Polenta and Garden Vegetable Bake

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on March 15, 2013

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The husband has been traveling a lot for work recently.

That means a lot of eating out and running around, neither of which are very comforting or satisfying.

So when he came home from his latest trip, I wanted a dish that was the epitome of comfort food. I was thinking lasagna, but I wanted a slight twist on that recipe – to mix things up a bit.

After some extensive online searching for inspiration, I came across this great recipe from EatingWell.com that turned out to be exactly what I was looking for!

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I love polenta – I feel like it adds a great texture and flavor to dishes, especially when paired with cheese :)

For this recipe I used parmesan cheese, but you could also use mozzarella or maybe even goat cheese would be interesting. Either way, you will end up with a hearty, filling, lasagna-esque dish that takes about 45 minutes to make (including baking time!) I modified the EatingWell recipe, so my modified version is below.

The husband loved it. He said it was the perfect dinner to come home to after a long trip.

The Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 zucchini, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 8-10 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce (make sure to get one that’s all-natural, with no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 16 ounces prepared polenta, sliced lengthwise into 6 thin slices (I used Trader Joe’s organic polenta – picture below)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese, divided

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The Directions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 450 degree F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, red pepper, zucchini, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

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Step 2: Add spinach; cook until wilted, stirring once, about 3 minutes.

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Step 3: Stir marinara sauce into the vegetables and heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in basil.

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Step 4: Slice polenta, and place polenta slices in a single layer in the prepared baking dish, trimming to fit if necessary.

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Step 5: Sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese, top with the zucchini/spinach mixture and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup cheese.

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Step 6: Bake until bubbling and the cheese has just melted, 12 to 15 minutes. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

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Doesn’t that just look like the most delicious casserole ever?

This recipe makes 8 HUGE servings, and it’s a wonderful balanced meal with the fiber and healthy goodness from the veggies, the protein from the cheese, and the whole grains from the polenta.

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And when you serve it, all of that sauce and cheese creates this gooey, warm texture that just makes you want to go back for seconds.

Which we did.

We also had it for leftovers another night, and it tasted just as great reheated!

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Polenta and Garden Vegetable Bake

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Calories per serving: 215

Fat per serving: 8g

Makes 8 Servings. Nutritional Info Per Serving: 215 Calories, 8g Fat, 27g Carbs, 9g Protein, 6g Fiber

Ingredients

  • Modified from: EatingWell.com
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 zucchini, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 8-10 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce (make sure to get one that’s all-natural, with no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 16 ounces prepared polenta, sliced lengthwise into thin slices
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degree F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, red pepper, zucchini, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add spinach; cook until wilted, stirring once, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir marinara sauce into the vegetables and heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in basil.
  4. Slice polenta, and place polenta slices in a single layer in the prepared baking dish, trimming to fit if necessary.
  5. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese, top with the zucchini/spinach mixture and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup cheese.
  6. Bake until bubbling and the cheese has just melted, 12 to 15 minutes. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
http://pickyeaterblog.com/polenta-and-garden-vegetables-bake/

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

eatlivetravelwrite July 20, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Mmmm – I love the idea of this. Healthy AND delicious!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 21, 2009 at 10:54 am

Thanks so much! I’m sure you will love it!

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Mona July 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm

made this and loved how fast I could make this :)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 18, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Woohoo! so happy to hear that Mona!

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Sarah August 30, 2012 at 7:36 am

Anjali, thank you so much for posting all of your great recipes. I have made several, and they are healthy and delicious!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater August 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

No problem at all Sarah! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my recipes!

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Andy March 15, 2013 at 11:32 am

I have never cooked with polenta before but I am going to give this one a try!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 15, 2013 at 11:39 am

Awesome! You know, originally I was intimidated by cooking with polenta, but it is actually the easiest thing in the world. Let me know how this recipe turns out for you!

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Christine @ 24 Carrot Kitchen March 15, 2013 at 11:34 am

This recipe looks so good! I have used the exact polenta product and it is a time saver. Lots of great nutrition in this recipe. Thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 15, 2013 at 11:40 am

Thank you so much Christine!! And yes – isn’t that pre-made polenta amazing? It tastes so great too :) I’m sure you will love this recipe!

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Sue Kauffman March 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Looks amazing, I have to put in on my “to try” list. Think I will pin it right now :)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Hehe yay!! Thanks Sue!!

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Suzanne March 17, 2013 at 8:32 am

This looks really great! I wonder if my kids will eat it? Pinning now for a future meal. :)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Thanks Suzanne! I think your kids will like it! It kind of tastes & feels like lasagna, which I think is pretty kid-friendly :) You’ll have to let me know how it turns out and what they say!

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katie March 20, 2013 at 7:57 am

oh my… this looks so good. Must try soon.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 21, 2013 at 9:03 am

hehe yay! I’m sure you will love it Katie!

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Yvette March 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Hello, this looks so good and I plan to make it this weekend. Is there something I can use to replace the zucchini? Every time I use it in a casserole it produces so much liquid. Maybe it will be absorbed by the polenta. Your thoughts?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 31, 2013 at 10:36 am

Hi Yvette! I didn’t have any issues with the zucchini making this recipe too liquid-y, I think the key is to making sure you don’t cook the zucchini down too much. But if you don’t want to risk it, you can replace it with carrots, any other squash, or just more bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, green – any kind will work). Hope that helps, let me know how it turns out!

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Yvette April 3, 2013 at 8:40 am

Hi Anjali, I made the recipe this weekend and it was delicious!! I decided to try it your way first by using the zucchini and it worked out just fine. I added mushrooms and I also used a slotted spoon when transferring the vegetable mixture to the baking dish. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thanks for all you do!!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 4, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Oh that’s so great! I’m glad the zucchini worked out. And yes! Using a slotted spoon is a great tip :) Thanks Yvette!

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Tracy April 22, 2013 at 4:07 am

I made this receipe yesterday. I had never cooked with polenta before and have to say, it’s the best thing I have made in a very long time. I used homemade marinara sauce and it is absolutely delish!!!!! I’m on your sight now looking for my next cooking adventure. Thanks for blogging! :-)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 24, 2013 at 12:10 am

Hooray!!! I’m sooo happy to hear that Tracy :) Love the idea of using homemade marinara sauce with this as well! Thanks for letting me know!

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