Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Polenta lasagna with roasted veggies and gorgonzola recipe
When I'm asked to create a recipe, I often have what I call a vision of a dish. I know it should work because I've done something similar before and I'm generally good at putting flavors together.
For a dish for the CUESA Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market Food Wise booth (Tuesdays at 12:30), the only requirement is to use something from the Tuesday Farmer's Market. That picture is from last month when I served a delicious strawberry tart.
In the summer, there's such a nice variety of vegetables from which to choose, it is a hard decision. Initially I was going to do a Polenta topped with Roasted Vegetables but it would be hard to serve in little cups. Then I thought to put the vegetables between the polenta to make it more of a lasagna. I've made something like this before, layering it with bleu cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.
However, there's nothing like a strong cheese like gorgonzola with roasted vegetables so that became my inspiration. With Cow Girl Creamery located inside of the Ferry Building, the choice was easy. If you don't have access to a creamy gorgonzola or bleu, use any cheese that you like. As we were walking around the market, the basil looked so nice I thought to incorporate that as well. If you don't have fresh basil you can either skip it or use pesto.
Although I had tasted each of the components (an absolute must in cooking), after serving a tray of it, I realized I hadn't tried it all together. I was so happily surprised! I expected it to be good but it was really good. When we ran out at 45 minutes later, I knew it was a hit. People liked the fact that it was also vegetarian and gluten-free.
As always, I encourage you to try something new. Someone asked if you could use pre-made polenta. The look on my face must have been priceless. If you've never made polenta before I encourage you to try it. Follow the instructions below and you will see how simple it really is. And notice I don't label this dish with summer veggies. You can make it all year round. Enjoy!
Polenta Lasagna with Roasted Veggies and Creamy Gorgonzola
3-4 cups assorted vegetables, chopped in bite size pieces, for example: onion, pepper, zucchini, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, grape or cherry tomatoes (keep whole), eggplant, sweet potatoes, etc.
1-2 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Seasonings like thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, and herbs de Provence (1/4 - 1/2 tsp of each)
2 cloves or minced fresh garlic
1. Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
2. Place veggies on a bowl with oil and seasonings and toss. Taste one of the vegetables, for example zucchini, to make sure it's seasoned well.
3. Place in roasting pan and bake about 15-20 minutes or until softened and golden, stirring once. Taste one of the vegetables to make sure they are done.
Polenta and Lasagna Assembly
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 c polenta
1/2 c grated Italian cheese like Parmesan or Peccorino Romano
1/2 c milk or broth (vegetable or chicken)
2-3 Tbl unsalted butter
1/4 tsp ground pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, couple of pinches of crushed red pepper.
Other ingredients: 8 oz creamy gorgonzola or bleu cheese
2-3 thinly sliced tomatoes (patted dry)
Few basil leaves, torn into pieces
Few pinches of salt
1/4 c grated parm cheese
1. Bring water to a boil in a medium to large pot. Add salt. While water is boiling, slowly add polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Lower heat.
2. Add cheese, milk, butter and seasonings. Simmer until thickened, whisking occasionally. If bubbling, lower the heat; polenta will be very hot and can burn you.
3. Continue to cook for about 15-20 minutes or until thick and pulling away from the sides. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. If the polenta tastes flat, add more salt, garlic powder, crushed red pepper and parmesan cheese.
4. Pour half into a greased baking pan, no larger than 13"x 9", and spread with a spatula to make flat. Top with roasted vegetables and the gorgonzola or bleu cheese. Spread remaining polenta on top. Top with tomato slices, basil pieces and sprinkle salt on top.
5. Bake in a 375F oven for 25 minutes. Add more cheese. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes or more before cutting.