Friday, March 6, 2015

Vegetable Polenta Bake

Hi, friends. I hope all of you are having a great week.

Life of voluntary unemployment is fun so far. I've been spending the week in a Substitute Teacher training class (because it could be useful someday) and doing all sorts of things I never got around to doing, like visiting the gardens again, painting pottery, and spending afternoons taking pictures. Here's to bigger and better adventures!

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the "Casserole Club" at my local Whole Foods. I've been in a dinner rut lately and desperately needed some new ideas, so when I saw that I would be coming home with three meals I just had to sign up. The woman who led the class, Leilani, is the Demo Specialist at Whole Foods Wilmington. Along with the other ladies in the group, she was so welcoming and fun to work with. It was nice to spend the evening sipping on a glass of wine and playing with food!

The meal I'm sharing (with Leilani's permission) today is a super easy Vegetable Polenta Bake. I totally admit that I didn't know what the heck polenta was before this class. FYI: It's basically grits made from cornmeal.

If you're looking for something new to try for dinner, look no further. This dish is full of veggie goodness and hello, it's topped with cheese... my favorite food group :)

Vegetable Polenta Bake


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
26 ounces diced tomatoes in their juices
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish if desired
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bunch kale, center stems removed and roughly chopped
1 (18-ounce) roll precooked polenta
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms and saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add the tomatoes, spices, and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, Simmer over low heat until thickened, about 20 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil and garlic in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the chopped kale and a pinch of salt and saute until wilted and softened, about 5 minutes.

Cut the polenta into 10 rounds. Arrange 9 slices on the bottom of an 8" baking dish, cutting the remaining round to fill in gaps. Top with the kale mixture, then top with the tomato sauce mixture. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake until the cheese has melted, about 20-30 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.

What are your plans for this weekend?
Do you like polenta?

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