Pesto Spinach Polenta Lasagna

By March 15, 2010 April 20th, 2011 Food, Kitchen, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegetarian

Surprisingly until now, I’ve never had polenta. Never tried it, never experimented with it. If you’re not familiar with polenta, it’s essentially boiled cornmeal. It is a popular choice in vegetarianism because it is relatively easy to make from scratch and incredibly adaptive and versatile. For me as a first timer, I picked it up pre-prepared on sale at the grocery store but after reading more about it, I’ll definitely be making my own next time. This lasagna recipe is super-easy and a great way to use polenta if you’re relatively new to the idea. Layered with marinara, spinach, ricotta and pesto, and topped with cheese, it is super creamy and definitely comfort food.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (18 ounce) package polenta, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1/2 (24 ounce) jar bottled marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, de-stemmed
  • 1 cup (8 ounce) partial-skim ricotta cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Oil an 11x7x2 inch baking dish. (Note: We only had a 13×9, but I definitely advocate a smaller size as your finished product will be taller, albeit with less servings.)

2. Arrange a single layer of polenta in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread a thin layer of pesto over the polenta. Spoon half of the sauce over the polenta then half of the ricotta. Top with a layer of de-stemmed spinach and repeat for second layer.

3. Top with a final layer of de-stemmed spinach.

4. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Turn on the broiler. Top lasagna with cheese, and broil until cheese browns and nuts are toasted.

How does this recipe differ from traditional lasagna? It’s a lot lighter. Polenta layers are thinner than traditional lasagna noodle layers. When polenta cooks it melds with the other ingredients, and the finished lasagna eats more like a casserole than a traditional lasagna. The flavor? Way better. The rich combination of the polenta, spinach, and pesto is phenomenal. We couldn’t get enough.

Conclusion: I will definitely be canning pesto this fall!

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