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Polenta Lasagna with Spinach

No recipe image available.Traditional lasagna noodles are replaced with slices of firm polenta layered with a spinach-ricotta cheese mixture and an Italian tomato sauce.

Recipe Ingredients:

Polenta:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 cups vegetable stock
2 cups instant polenta (13.2 ounce box)
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dry basil leaves
Salt to taste

Spinach-Ricotta Filling:
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 (15-ounce) containers low-fat ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese - divided use
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese - divided use

Cooking Directions:

  1. Lightly spray a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. For Polenta: In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more, making sure it doesn't brown. Add salt and stock and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat.
  3. In a thin stream very slowly add the polenta stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly to be sure it doesn't stick, until it's thick and creamy. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese.
  4. Pour polenta into the prepared baking dish, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula if necessary. Let polenta rest for at least 2 hours. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead however.)
  5. For Tomato Sauce: Heat oil in a wide frying pan over medium heat; add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, wine, oregano and basil. Bring to a simmer; then simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Makes about 4 cups sauce.
  6. For Spinach-Ricotta Filling: In a medium bowl combine spinach, ricotta, egg and Parmesan, mixing well. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  7. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  8. Invert the polenta onto a cutting surface. Set the dish aside to use again. Cut the polenta rectangle in half to make 2 rectangles each measuring 9x6 1/2-inches. Slice each rectangle lengthwise in half again, using a long piece of dental floss or a serrated knife to make the job easiest, creating 4 layers (each 9x6 1/2-inches).
  9. Spoon prepared tomato sauce evenly on the bottom of the 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Place two of the polenta pieces in the dish to cover the bottom. Spoon half of the spinach ricotta mixture over the polenta, using the back of a spoon to spread it out, and then sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Spoon 2 cups of sauce over cheese.
  10. Top with remaining polenta pieces and finish with remaining cheese.
  11. Place the lasagna dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

Tip: To prepare in advance the lasagna can be assembled and held up to 24 hours before baking. To cook, remove lasagna from refrigerator 1 hour before baking then cook as recipe directs.