This baked polenta dish is a great option as a substitute for a traditional lasagna, a favorite in our house. Anything loaded up with roasted vegetables is worth a try! However, buying corn products can be troublesome, as buying organic and non-GMO means a lot of label-reading. Luckily, I found a great option in a local market. It's organic Floriani Red Flint, a variety that was near extinction but re-discovered a little over a decade ago and is now grown in organically in Lodi, California — a relatively short distance away. Just the story of the source of this polenta alone made the bake a more interesting adventure. Plus the fact that it is grown fairly locally, milled fairly locally and distributed by a local company means it was a perfect option for this recipe.
 
Everything about this recipe is easy. The only trick is patience after it comes out of the oven. It needs to sit for awhile to let the polenta settle and firm up at the bottom. Cut into it too soon (like I did in my impatience to taste it) and you'll get a bit of a runny mess. So definitely do as step 5 says and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Don't worry, it'll stay hot. And the leftovers the next day — wrapped in parchment paper and foil and heated up in the oven for about 20 minutes — are just as delicious as when it's first baked.
 
This recipe is inspired by Two Peas and Their Pod.
 
baked polenta
 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 90 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Baked Polenta with Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 small carrot, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small bunch spinach, chopped
  • Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper to taste for roasted veggies
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 to 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, toss together the carrot, onion and red pepper slices with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread them out on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Stick them in the oven on the center rack and roast them for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, stirring every 10-12 minutes to evenly roast them.
  2. While the vegetables are roasting, put the water and salt in a large pot and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Add the polenta a little at a time, whisking constantly. As the polenta thickens, stir it with a spoon until it pulls away from the sides of the pot. Add in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, stir, then pour the mixture into a 2-quart greased casserole dish. Spread it evenly in the dish, and then sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top.
  3. Evenly spread the roasted vegetables, capers and olives on top of the polenta. Spread the tomato sauce over the vegetables and top with grated mozzarella cheese.
    baked polenta
  4. Place the dish in the oven and bake it for about 30-35 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browned, and the vegetables are bubbling at the edges of the dish.
    baked polenta
  5. Remove the dish from the oven and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes. This allows the polenta to firm up a bit.
  6. Cut into squares, plate, and enjoy!

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