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Baked Polenta Lasagna

Was playing around in my kitchen the other day. I love layering and baking and I wanted to try something new. Does anyone else have a thing for polenta? I swear…it is the ultimate comfort food. My grandmother was Roumanian so I grew up eating it. The dish we ate was called mamaliga (how crazy is that name?!) It is a boiled polenta dish served with some cottage cheese. mmm…

Here is what I did:

I started with the sauce, I made an eggplant based sauce. It was hearty and tangy. You can literally use any kind of sauce you want. 

2 large eggplants, roughly chopped

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon capers

1 bunch of fresh basil

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp red chili powder

2- 14 ounce cans of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed

2 teaspoons, brown sugar

Directions:

In a large pot, heat up 3 tablespoons of the oil and fry the eggplant all over until slightly golden. Remove the eggplant and heat up the rest of the olive oil. Toss in the onions, red bell peppers, and garlic, then season well with salt and pepper. Sweat for 5 minutes, then splash in the balsamic vinegar and add in the capers. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add the eggplant back in with the crushed tomatoes, basil, smoked paprika, chili powder and the brown sugar. Season again, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 1 hour. Don’t forget to stir. You can make the sauce a day or two in advance.

Polenta:

6 cups of water

2 cups of polenta

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup freshly grated parmesan

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions: Season the water with the salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling stir in the polenta and continue mixing until it thickens up. Add in the olive oil the parmesan and the salt and pepper.

For the layering of the lasagna

2 large balls of fresh mozzarella or 1 1/2 cups small mozzarella balls

1/2 cup fresh basil

1 cup freshly grated parmesan

3 small eggplants, sliced lengthwise and either grilled with olive oil or pan fried with olive oil until golden.

In a large square pan, place a little sauce on the bottom, then ladle a layer of polenta on top until is covers the entire pan, then ladle a nice amount of sauce on top of the polenta, place some grilled eggplants on top of the sauce, mozzarella, a generous sprinkle of parmesan and then another layer of the polenta. Keep doing this until you are out of ingredients. Top whatever your last layer is with mozzarella and parmesan and bake at 350 degree F for 45 minutes. Serve hot! 

CHEERS GUYS!