3 Cheese Baked Polenta


I use slow cooking polenta from Italy to ensure I am not using GMO corn. This is a hearty and luxurious dish that is great with just a simple green salad, let alone whatever gussied up sides you want to have. It makes a full 3Qt baking pan (13 x 9 x 21), is great for a dinner party and makes fabulous leftovers for the following day.

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups medium or coarse-grain polenta (I prefer medium)
  • 9 cups water
  • 1 TBS & 1 tsp salt
  • 2 ½ oz organic butter

Tomato sauce

  • 3-4 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½  TBS fresh rosemary & thyme, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb 12 oz can of  crushed tomatoes
  • 3-4 TBS of your favorite pasta sauce (optional)

 

  • 8 oz Taleggio cheese
  • 5 oz Gorgonzola dolce cheese (optional)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bring 9 cups water to boil with salt in a large heavy bottomed pot. Add polenta to the water in a gentle stream, whisking continuously as you pour it in. Reduce the heat immediately to the lowest possible flame, so the water is just simmering. Stir continuously for about a minute, to avoid any lumps appearing in the polenta. The more you stir, the better the texture will be, and that combined with slow heat in a heavy bottomed pan is the secret to making great polenta. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until polenta comes away from the sides of the pot easily. (Note: defer to the cooking time on the back of your package!) Add butter and mix well.

     

Golden Polenta

To make the sauce:

Heat olive oil in a saucepan and cook the garlic until light brown and fragrant. Add half the rosemary and thyme and then the crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, and add a few TBS of your pasta sauce if you desire. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick tomato sauce.

Cut the Taleggio and blue cheese into 1/2″ cubes, as shown in the picture below.

Cutting the cheese into cubes

To assemble:

Preheat oven to 350. Pour half the tomato sauce into the bottom of the baking dish and spread evenly. Wet a large serving spoon or spatula (if you happen to have a wooden spatula, even better.) Scoop half of the polenta in spoonfuls out into the baking pan. With the back of the utensil, or with wet hands, gently pat down the polenta into a flattened layer. The polenta sticks together like clay, and can be easily formed.

 

Assemblying the first layer of polenta

Scatter the Taleggio and Gorgonzola cheese over the first layer of polenta. I press them into the polenta slightly, and evenly space them. Sprinkle with half the Parmesan cheese. With wet spoon, or hands form out the top layer of polenta. Sprinkle the remaining fresh herbs over the polenta.

Pour rest of sauce over the polenta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese.

Ready to bake

(I had leftover cheese in this picture…the recipe above calculates less cheese than I had.)

Bake for 30 minutes. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

VARIATIONS: You can easily embelish the polenta with adding spinach leaves, roasted vegetables, and /or sauteed mushrooms into the center.

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