This was killer. I never thought to do this before, but when I made that loaf of polenta from my birthday dinner, the idea slashed across my brain like a green light saber...
Slice this and layer it with sauce and fillings, you will! Bake it, you will!
Bake it I did.
And Polenta Lasagna was born. Though many have come before, this One was made with The Force.
VF's Polenta Lasagna with Sauteed Artichokes, Toasted Pine Nuts, Roasted Peppers and Cashew Ricotta (oh, and giant capers!)
One Loaf Organic Polenta (homemade, please, it doesn't take long! Here's the recipe!)
One-half recipe Cashew Ricotta (again, freezer pantry score!)
One jarred organic, red pepper (mine are in water) or one fresh red pepper, peeled & sauteed
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2, 6oz jars of marinated, quartered artichoke hearts, or a larger 14 oz jar if you want, or canned in water are also fine
1 tablespoon capers (the big ones are fun)
6 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed in your fingers
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp or more if you like ground red pepper flakes
28 oz Organic Crushed Tomatoes (I used Wegmans), this is one large can, usually (get BPA free if possible!)
3 cubes of frozen garden fresh basil or pesto (my freezer pantry came through big time on this one!)
OR, 1/4 cup packed fresh basil, chopped.
1 tablespoon (or more if you want) Nutritional Yeast
Olive oil for cooking the artichokes and sauce and for coating your baking pan
Salt & pepper to taste
About 1/2 cup Daiya Mozzarella (if you like)
Toast your pine nuts in a big, deep saute pan (and just use this pan for everything else, too) on low heat. I use a non-stick pan which doesn't get as hot so it's insurance against burning stuff (especially pine nuts and garlic) badly, but it also takes longer to cook everything else (like the artichokes), a trade-off like any other in the kitchen! Cook pine nuts about 4-6 minutes total, checking frequently. Don't burn the pine nuts! You just want some of them to be light brown, once they are fragrant, they are done. Remove from pan and set aside.
Drain your quartered artichoke hearts (or pick them out and save the marinade!). Heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan on medium heat, and add all of the drained artichoke hearts and the capers. Or, use some of the oil from the jar marinade to fry them up! Cook until light brown on at least two sides. This takes a while, like 12-15 minutes total. Set a timer to go off every 3-5 minutes so you can do other tasks and still check your artichoke hearts! This also ensures you will leave them to cook long enough on one side so they actually brown. In my non-stick pan it takes forever.
While you are sauteeing your artichoke hearts, peel & chop your garlic and slice your jarred red pepper.
When the artichokes and capers are done, remove them from the pan and set aside. Add 1-2 tablespoons more olive oil to the pan and saute all your chopped garlic, one teaspoon of Kosher salt, one tablespoon of dried oregano crushed in your fingers, and a dash of ground red pepper flakes, and saute on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Don't burn the garlic!! Add the can of tomatoes, basil ice cubes (:-), and nutritional yeast and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly until sauce is reduced, thicker and no longer raw and liquidy. Add about 1-2 tsps of Kosher salt, but taste as you go to make sure not to over salt.
While your sauce is cooking, oil a baking dish (I used a 9x13 Pyrex baking dish) and slice and arrange about half of your polenta in one layer on the bottom of the dish. It will fit together perfectly like a puzzle if you invert the center pieces in the rows. Add the artichokes & capers, pine nuts, and roasted peppers (arrange however you like) and top with cashew ricotta.
Now, add your sauce:
I put some Daiya mozzarella on top of this, too, but you don't have to.
Now, add your second layer of polenta.
Look at the bottom row to see how the slices fit together magically when you invert the center slice (at least with my loaf pan, which has high, angled sides).
Cover with sauce, more Daiya if you want, and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes (or at 375 for 30 minutes, or around there, you are heating it through and melting the cheeses, so the exact time & temp doesn't matter that much).
All melty and delicious!
Slice and serve!
Ate almost half of it, we did! :-)