Lasagna is one of those Italian American comfort foods that has been reworked into a million different recipes over the years. When I visited Italy years ago I was surprised to find that the Italian version was very different from its American adaptation.
The lasagne that I find more often in the States is a towering wonder of cheese and meat-filled sauce, not to mention some noodles. In Italy, it’s a bit more refined and made more simply with super-tender, melt-in-your-mouth noodles and generally very little cheese, if any at all.
Here, I’ve decided to change up the idea of lasagna again with the recipe below using prepared polenta instead of lasagna noodles. Really, the only thing lasagna-like about it, is that it has some sauce and is layered… yet another version or interpretation of this comfort food dish.
Change it up by adding whatever veggies you might happen to have in your veggie drawer, such as broccoli, Swiss chard or even leftover cooked vegetables. Swap out the marinara for a meat sauce or for pesto. Add sliced prosciutto or oven-roasted tomatoes to the layers.
Prepared polenta is shelf stable prior to opening and can be found either in the produce section, the aisle where rice or cornmeal is found, or in the international section. Food Merchant and Frieda’s organic logs of polenta can be found in assorted flavors such as basil and garlic, or sundried tomato and garlic, or green chili and cilantro. Look for Food Merchant’s newest product that is organic quinoa polenta.
Instead of baking the polenta as in the recipe below you can also broil, grill, pan fry or even microwave the slices.
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Individual Vegetarian Lasagna
2 to 3 slices from a log of prepared polenta, any flavor
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 button mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper
3 ounces baby spinach
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup grated part skim mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange polenta in one layer on a small sheet pan coated with olive oil spray and bake, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and keep warm.
- While polenta is baking, heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over moderate heat and cook mushrooms, turning, until golden brown, about 4 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a plate. Add spinach to skillet in handfuls and cook with garlic, tossing, until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plate.
- Stack polenta on sheet pan alternating with sauce, cooked spinach and mushrooms and cheese. Bake in middle of oven until heated through and cheese in melted, about 7 minutes.
- Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
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