italian polenta casserole

Since the new year began, I’ve been a little less than adventurous in the kitchen. Between traveling and social obligations, I really have been sticking to a chicken or fish, vegetable and starch, with an occasional soup or pasta dish thrown in.

Fancy.

A friend posted a recipe for a Mexican polenta pie (similar to this), which sounded absolutely divine, especially for polenta-lovers like yours truly. Unfortunately, Mr PugRunner gets burned out on Mexican food and we were coming off a quesadilla night, so I decided to rework the idea.

It came out so well that I suggested it to my sister-in-law for Easter dinner when she asked me for suggestions. Neither of our families aren’t big lamb or ham eaters, so we struggle for “traditional” menus at this time of year. She thought it sounded great so I am going to create a meatless version for the big day.**

You’ll need the following:

  • 2 tubes of premade polenta (our grocery store was surprisingly lacking, so I got one plain and one with Italian seasoning)
  • 1 pound mild or hot Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 1/2 white or red onion, sliced
  • 2-3 bell peppers (red and green), sliced
  • 1 block part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 pint part-skim ricotta
  • 2-3 cups of marinara
  • pepper & salt to taste
  • grated parmesan to garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375 and lightly spray casserole dish with cooking spray.

2. Brown uncased sausage in a large pan, then set aside on paper towels to drain.

3. Sautee peppers and onions in a small bit of olive oil.

4. While the vegetables are cooking down, cut one tube of polenta horizontally down the middle, then in 1/4″ slices. Line the bottom of the casserole dish with the slices, filling in all the cracks.

5. Cover polenta slices with about half the shredded mozzarella, and then layer with sausage, then peppers and onions. Drizzle with half the marinara sauce and then dollop with about half the ricotta.

6. Slice the remaining tube of polenta the same way as the first and cover the top of the casserole. Layer with remaining mozzarella, sauce and ricotta.

7. Bake, uncovered, for about 35-40 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving. Garnish with parmesan if desired.

 

* I will post pictures of this the next time I make it. It was late and I didn’t have decent light, so the photo I have does not do the dish justice.

** In my head, the meatless version will have more peppers and onions, as well as sauteed mushrooms and black olives. I’m also envisioning making it with browned ground beef, spinach and cannelloni beans. The options are endless, really. Just play and have fun.

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