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Baked Cheese Polenta with Tomato Sauce

[1]

This recipe came from Mediterranean: A Taste of the Sun in Over 150 recipes [2]. This recipe can be simplified by slicing pre-made polenta and using sauce from a jar. The longest part of this recipe was waiting for the polenta to cool. But, making the sauce by scratch was very easy and meant I could flavor it how I wanted it.

Baked Cheese Polenta with Tomato sauce

1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups instant polenta (I used organic corn grits.)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion (I used several spring onions using only the white parts.)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 14-ounce cans chopped tomatoes (I used organic diced tomatoes with garlic and basil)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and ground black pepper
3 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (I used robusto cheese with some grated parmesean.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (I waited to preheat when creating the layers below. No sense having the oven going for over 20 minutes while the sauce is cooking.)

Line an 11 x 7-inch baking pan with plastic wrap. (I used a 9 x 14 inch baking pan.)

Put 4 cups water into a pan and bring to a boil with the salt.

Pour in the polenta in a steady stream and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.

Beat in the paprika and nutmeg… (Not sure what they meant by “beat”, the polenta was pretty stiff at this point.)

[3]

…then pour into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Let cool. (Because I used a larger baking pan, the polenta did not spread all the way to the edge.)

Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion and garlic until soft.

Add the tomatoes, pate and sugar. Season. Simmer for 20 minutes.

[4]

Turn out the polenta onto a cutting board and cut into 2-inch squares.

Place half the squares in a greased ovenproof dish.

Spoon on half the tomato sauce, and sprinkle with half the cheese.

[5]

Repeat the layers.

[6]

Bake for about 25 minutes until golden.

[7]

This is a very hearty recipe perfect for a cold day. It’s a nice alternative from a lasagna or ziti if you are faced with feeding a lot of people. As I mentioned above, by using pre-made polenta you can save half of the prep time but just slicing the polenta. I would suggest bringing the pre-made polenta to room temperature before using to save on some of the baking time.