I have had this wonderful layered polenta dish three times and every time I want more. It is like a lasagna but made with polenta and filled with healthy and savory ingredients. If you want to bring a dish to a pot luck this one is a winner.
Herbivoracious Stuffed and Baked Polenta
3 T olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp Kosher salt
Hot red pepper flakes
2 # mushrooms, sliced 1/4″ thick
1 bunch kale, stemmed and thinly sliced (about 4 cups packed)
Grated zest of a lemon
9 cups cooked polenta (3 cups uncooked, prepared to package instructions)
2 cups tarragon bechamel (see below)
3/4 c Asiago Fresca or provolone, freshly grated
1/2 c Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
- Make bechamel first, then filling, then polenta and assemble while the polenta is still hot and fluid
- I used chard, kale and beet greens, singly or in combinations, for the greens. I included the stems, ends trimmed, finely sliced and sautéed with the onions
- I liked a combination of grated fontina and Parmigiano cheese
- Cook the vegetable filling until it is quite dry, this helps keep the bottom layer of polenta from getting soggy and falling apart when served
- Add a big pat of butter to the polenta after it is cooked and a handful of grated cheese before spreading in the casserole
Preheat oven to 425 F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ casserole with 1 T olive oil.
Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add salt, red pepper flakes and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are browned and all their liquid is cooked out. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is wilted and tender, about 10 minutes. Add the lemon zest and taste for salt, pepper.
Spread half of the polenta in the bottom of the greased casserole pan. Top with the vegetable mixture, then the bechamel and the remaining polenta. Be sure to get everything evenly distributed into the corners. Smooth over the top layer of polenta, squashing the polenta into place if it has cooled and is no longer spreadable. Sprinkle cheeses on top.
Bake until the cheese has browned well, at least 30 minutes. Allow the dish to rest for 10 minutes minimum before cutting into squares for serving.
Herbivoracious Tarragon Bechamel
4 T unsalted butter
3 T flour
2 cups whole milk (I use 2% milk)
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 T minced fresh tarragon or 1 mounded tsp dried if no fresh is available
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk well and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the milk while whisking and bring to a boil, stirring well to remove any lumps. Add salt and tarragon and bring to a boil.
This can be made a day ahead and reheated adding more milk to thin the mixture.
Or, you can use my my mother’s wonderful bechamel and add tarragon to it – this is what I always do for any dish calling for bechamel.