This is a recipe devised by my college-going daughter. She prefers to eat vegetarian and found that there were very few vegetarian choices in the college’s cafeteria. Also, they tended to repeat the same old same stuff every day and she longed for something different. So she threw in a few ingredients she had in her pantry and refrigerator and found that she actually liked the combination of polenta with the veggies she threw together. So she gave it a name and it has now become a standard recipe among her house-mates. On her trip home this winter break, she made her Polenta Casserole for the family and since it was so popular with everyone at home, I have added it to my repertoire.
1. One tube of pre-cooked polenta (I used the sun-dried garlic kind available at Trader Joe’s)
2. 3-4 ounces of bottled or home-made basil pesto
3. 5-6 ounces of jarred or home-made marinara sauce
4. One medium sized eggplant
5. One large green onion
6. 10-12 stalks of fresh asparagus
7. 3-4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8. Some parsley for garnishing
1. In a large non-stick pan, warm up a table spoon of olive oil.
2. Slice the polenta into 1/3 inch thick slices and cook each side for 4-5 minutes on each side in the hot pan. When all the slices are cooked, set them aside.
3. Slice the eggplant into circle about the same thickness as the polenta and cook them in the pan, adding a bit of olive oil at a time to prevent the eggplant from getting stuck to the bottom of the pan. When all slices are cooked, set them aside.
4. Cut the onion into thin slices and also cook them in the pan with a little bit of oil at the bottom.
5. Cut the asparagus in pieces about 2 inches long and stir fry them with the onions for 3-4 minutes.
6. In an 8X8” Pyrex baking dish, place the cooked pieces of polenta as a bottom layer.
7. Place the cooked slices of eggplant on top of the polenta and then spread a little bit of the pesto on each of the pieces of eggplant.
8. Then stack up another layer of the polenta on top of the eggplant, followed by another layer of cooked eggplant and then some pesto. This layering is similar to that of lasagna.
9. On top add the semi-cooked onion and asparagus and then finally top the veggies with a layer of tomato marinara sauce.
10. Cover the dish with a piece of tin foil (sealing the sides by folding the tin foil around it) and bake in an oven for 20-25 minutes at 350 degree Fahrenheit
11. Sprinkle a little bit of chopped fresh parsley on top and serve with a chewy piece of bread or by itself.