Much of yesterday I spent in the garden, where I cut back shrubs and bushes, raked up an incredible amount of fir branches which had come down during the ice storm and stuffed our green cans fuller than my suitcase for a trip. There’s only so much yard waste we can dispose off per week, so I’m trying to be strategic. It will be an ongoing project!
Now to the Tasty Tuesday part! I love lasagna, always have. I don’t make it very often and can’t remember the last time I ate it at a restaurant. Restaurant lasagna is usually way to cheesy for me or contains meat. So when I came across this recipe in the NYT, I just had to try it. It’s more work than using no-boil noodles, but oh … it is sooooooo incredibly delicious. Next time I go grocery shopping I will make sure to get everything I need to make it again.
This recipe yielded a large amount and filled up a 9×13 inch baking pan. We ate it five nights in a row (reheating it covered with foil in the oven) and both of us were sad when we ran out of this dish. The next batch I’ll divide between two 8×8 inch pans and freeze one for a “Take-in Dinner”.
Creamy Polenta Lasagna
- 4 tablespoons butter, plus a little extra
- 2 cups regular (not instant) polenta
- 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 2 cups grated parmesan ( I used less)
- 2 cups whole-milk ricotta or 2 cups cottage cheese ( I prefer cottage cheese here)
- 3 tablespoons minced parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced basil (or more parsley)
- 1 egg
- a little freshly ground black pepper
- a little freshly ground nutmeg
- about 3 cups of quality marinara sauce (I made mine with canned tomatoes and chopped shiitakes)
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella (I didn’t have any. It was delicious anyway!)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Butter a rimmed 13×18 inch baking sheet.
Rub a little butter onto a rubber spatula.
In a large pot bring 6 cups of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil.
Turn down the flame to medium and start to slowly whisk in the polenta.
Keep whisking away until the polenta starts to get thick.
It’ll take about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add 4 tablespoons of butter and whisk it in until it’s melted.
Now whisk in the baby spinach until it is wilted.
This should take around a couple of minutes.
Take the polenta off the flame and stir in 1 cup of the parmesan.
Spread the polenta out on the buttered baking sheet using the greased spatula.
Sprinkle about 1/2 a cup of the grated parmesan over the top.
Bake the polenta for about 12 to 18 minutes until it is firm and the parmesan is melted.
Then remove it from the oven and let it cool completely.
At this point you can refrigerate the polenta for a day if desired.
When you are ready to assemble the lasagna, preheat the oven again to 400°.
Butter a 9×13 inch casserole dish.
Cut the cooled polenta in half and carefully transfer one half into the buttered pan.
In a separate small bowl whisk together the ricotta or cottage cheese, the egg,
black pepper, parsley, basil, nutmeg and a pinch or two of salt.
When well combined spread half of this cheese mixture over the first polenta layer.
Cottage cheese adds a delightful tang to this concoction!
Top the cheese with about half of the marinara sauce and spread it out evenly.
If you’re using the mozzarella, spread half of it evenly over the sauce.
Place the second layer of polenta on top of the marinara sauce and repeat the process:
Cheese blend, marinara sauce, mozzarella.
Lastly sprinkle the rest of the parmesan over the lasagna.
Put the baking dish on a larger baking sheet in case it bubbles over during baking.
Bake the lasagna for 30 to 40 minutes until the cheese is melted and the dish is piping hot.
Take the pan out of the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
The leftovers can be kept for about a week or frozen for a few months.
Just reheat it in the oven until it’s thoroughly hot.
We absolutely loved this creamy, meltingly delicious lasagna!