Gluten-Free Easy Polenta Lasagna Recipe

August 4th, 2009 yum Posted in Corn, Easy, Italian, Polenta, Vegetarian, cheese, leftovers 7 Comments »

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In my menu of the week post I mentioned that a friend had brought over a bunch of yummy gluten-free dishes for my freezer. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as I’d been eating frozen Amy’s meals for almost every meal at that point and was going slightly insane over the lack of variety. I missed home cooked meals desperately, but it’s hard to find time to make them with a newborn vying for your attention. (And so adorably, too!) Among many other things, she brought me some frozen polenta squares, which still was a world of flavor better than the nasty processed kinds in the tube… and they reminded me of a dish I’d enjoyed at a fancy restaurant in Boulder, Colorado with layers of tomato sauce, melted cheese, and spinach in a cheese sauce. I made a busy momma’s version of that dish using the polenta cubes for dinner, and the DH and I enjoyed them greatly. Why not try some yourself on a busy weekday? This recipe comes together really quickly with the polenta prepared the night before (or week! or month, if frozen). I wouldn’t have thought to freeze polenta, but it is a very nice way to extend the polenta’s life. Just defrost in microwave (carefully) and drain any liquid that seeps out. You will have to handle the polenta carefully as it will be softer after being defrosted than if you had just taken it out of your refrigerator when firm.

Polenta Spinach Lasagna Square Recipe
Ingredients
1 recipe prepared polenta, chilled until firm and cut into thin, 1/4 in. thick, 3 inch wide cubes. (Prepare according to box instructions, using veg broth instead of water if desired, and spices to taste)

1/2 tbsp. olive oil
Your favorite grill seasoning (gluten-free)
small bowlful of fresh spinach
marinara sauce (gluten-free, of course- most are, luckily)
Organic cheddar or feta cheese

Directions
Heat olive oil in nonstick pan on medium and swirl to evenly cover surface. Add your polenta squares and season generously with grill seasoning. Let brown and then turn. Season browned side and turn once more to set in the spices. Add spinach to one side of the pan and let wilt. To assemble, heat oven to broil. Place browned polenta squares on cookie sheet and top with wilted spinach. Drizzle with marinara sauce and top with organic cheese. Place under broiler and let cheese get melted and golden brown on top. Enjoy!
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Gluten Free Vegetarian Soups: Chard Tomato Soup Recipe

October 24th, 2007 yum Posted in Party Food, Pasta, Polenta, Soup, Vegetarian, tomatoes 5 Comments »

soup5.jpggrapechaipizza3.jpgIt seems to be the season for soups. First I made a peanut sweet potato soup, and then a mere week later I found myself inspired when thumbing through a supermarket sponsored cooking magazine. You never know when or WHERE you’ll find an intriguing recipe… I found not one but several recipes that I decided to incorporate into the menu this week. The soup was the star of the show. I had feared it would be plain and watery, but I reduced the amount of broth called for (converting it to be vegetarian, of course), omitted the suggested celery (icky), and added some fresh tomatoes (the last of the harvest, sniff) for added oomph. The polenta cubes were just plain genius, adding flavor, texture and interest to the soup, the chard gave it extra flavor AND nutritional value, and all in all it was a perfect soup for a cool fall night. Unfortunately the night I happened to make it was a warm fall night, but such is life in sunny northern California.

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spaghettitwirls.jpgAs an accompaniment, I made the intriguing recipe for Spaghetti Twirl Bites found on the same page. These clever little bites involve half a package of boiled spaghetti mixed with 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, crushed red pepper flakes and two eggs. You mix them all up together, then spray two mini muffin tins with nonstick coking spray and twirl little spaghetti “muffins” into each tin. A little time intensive, but the results are tasty and interesting. It would be a good way to use up some leftover cooked spaghetti, and fun for parties.

grapechaipizza.jpgOf course dinner wouldn’t be complete without dessert, and so I threw together one of Carol Fenster’s basic recipe for fruit pizza. To change it up a bit, I altered the toppings drastically, following a recipe for “Sweet Grape Focaccia” found in my Nob Hill magazine. I sprinkled the dough with brown sugar mixed with chai spices, and then topped it with fresh, halved grapes and pecans, sprinkled it with some more of my “chai sugar” and then baked it for 25 minutes at 350. It was very good, but needs some tweaking, so I am not ready to post the recipe just yet. If you’re wondering… something unfortunate happened to the toppings when I, um, dropped half of the pizza in the cat’s water dish (not good for desserts- who would have thought) so, um, these photos have some fresh grapes placed on the sad little spots where grape used to be. And yes, I’m a little bitter about the whole sordid affair. (I threw away the half that snuggled the water dish. Too bad cats don’t care for sweet chai pizza.)

Savory Chard and Polenta Soup
Ingredients
5 cups vegetable stock (or no-chicken broth: I used Edward and Sons bullion)
1/4 cup polenta meal
2 tbsp parmigiano-teggiano cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, halved
1 large fennel bulb, sliced and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 cups chopped assorted mushrooms
1 28 oz. can tomatoes
1 cup or so fresh chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp of basil, 1 1/2 tsp marjoram
1 parmigiano-teggiano cheese rind OR thick slice of cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 cups chopped red chard

balsamic vinegar, to taste

Directions
Lay wax or parchment paper on a baking sheet or square plate.

Put 1 cup of stock into a pan and bring it to a boil, gradually stirring in polenta. Let it thicken and simmer until you have a good consistency. Remove from heat and stir in shredded cheese, mixing thoroughly. Then spread your polenta on the wax sheet evenly, creating a thin polenta “cake”. Reserve and let cool.

Meanwhile, heat you oil in a large soup pot. Throw in the onion, fennel, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or so. Then add your carrots, mushrooms and cook for another 5 to ten minutes. Stir as needed. When onion look translucent and lightly browned, add your broth, tomatoes, herbs and cheese rind or cheese slice.

After bringing to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper! Next, cut your polenta into cubes and put them in the soup, being careful not to break them, and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

To serve, drip a little balsamic vinegar into each individual serving soup. Yummy!

Notes
DH, who hates chard, ate it with gusto and pronounced it “very good.” Whahahahah.
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