The scariest thing about moving out to Seattle was not knowing anyone out here. Yep, that’s right. I moved 1700 miles away from home to a city that I don’t know a soul. Luckily there are a couple of guys from my class that are within an hour from Seattle, so when the weekend comes around I’ll have some buddies to explore with. We planned to get together Sunday night to do some walking around Seattle, and then go back to my apartment for dinner. However, one of the guys had a bad experience with the fast food he had for lunch and wasn’t feeling too hot. So, dinner was canceled…at least for them. Hey, I’ve gotta eat too!
I can’t even tell you how delicious this lasagna is. It was 1000 times easier to make than regular lasagna, and besides letting the polenta harden in the fridge for a couple of hours, this was a pretty quick meal to whip up. The only problem I had with it was that it ended up being a little runny. I’m guessing the excess liquid came from the mushrooms which might not have been fully cooked before I added the marinara sauce, so they released liquid while baking. Aside from being watery, the end result was hearty, cheesy, and a true comfort away from home. Those guys really missed out…
Vegetable Polenta Lasagna
1 cup polenta
3 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
12 oz marinara sauce (approximately half of a large jar of sauce)
3-4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup basil pesto, you can use pre-made, I used this recipe
8 oz fresh mozzarella balls, cut into half
2-4 hours in advance (or up to 2 days in advance): To make the polenta, bring 3 cups of vegetable stock to a boil. Slowly add in dry polenta and salt, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook polenta about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add butter and parmesan cheese, and stir to combine. Pour polenta into 9×13″ baking dish, and refrigerate 2-4 hours. Polenta can be made up to 2 days in advance.
To make the sauce: heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic, and cook until the mushrooms are done and have released their moisture. Season with salt. Add marinara sauce, and cook a few minutes until heated, then add the baby spinach. Stir mixture until spinach has wilted.
To assemble lasagna:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. You will need an 8×8″ baking dish.
Spread 1/2 cup of marinara sauce onto bottom of baking dish. Cut the polenta in 6 even strips. Place 3 strips on top of marinara layer. Spread the presto on top of the polenta, followed by 1/2 of the remaining marinara sauce, and half of the mozzarella cheese. Top with 3 remaining strips of polenta, placing them the opposite direction as the first layer (so they are at a 90 degree angle). Top with remaining marinara.
Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Put lasagna back in oven, turn on the broiler, and heat until cheese is melted and golden brown. Remove from oven, and let sit for 10 minutes. This step is crucial!! I didn’t do it because I was seriously hungry, but it turned out a sloppy mess (still tasty though!) so definitely try to restrain yourself and wait at least 10 minutes before cutting it.