April 3, 2010

Herb Polenta Vegetable Bake, Italian stuffed Foccacia Bread

Polenta and Vegetable Bake
Cheri Swoboda

Makes 8 servings

    * 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    * 1 medium eggplant, diced
    * 1 small zucchini, finely diced
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    * 1/2 cup water
    * 1 10-ounce bag baby spinach
    * 1-1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce, preferably lower-sodium
    * 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
    * 1 14-ounce tube prepared polenta, sliced lengthwise into 6 thin slices
    * 1-1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (divided)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant, zucchini, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add water and spinach; cover and cook until spinach is wilted, stirring once, about 3 minutes. Stir marinara sauce into the vegetables and heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in basil.

Place polenta slices in a single layer in the prepared baking dish, trimming to fit, if necessary. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese, top with the eggplant mixture and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake until bubbling and the cheese has just melted, 12 to 15 minutes. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
I posted this recipe on my blog this morning and I will tell you how I made it today. It came out very nice. It's kind of like a lasagna with lots of roasted vegetables.

I added a chopped portabello mushroom to the vegetables, I didn't have spinach, but I did have some nice collard greens I got at the farmer's market today from Eva.

I made my own Polenta instead of buying that tube of Polenta. There is a good brand in the market, but it is still processed food and contains some kind of preservative. If you notice, it's on the shelf, not in the cooler. Hmmm. It also cost about $3.99 for one of those tubes. I made this for about $1.50. Dry polenta is about $2.49 lb. I used 2 cups, some water, sea salt, a little sunflower oil, and fresh herbs.

I used some Mama Nano's Caponata Sauce, vegetarian style, from our farmer's market. This sauce is made with whole, fresh vegetables: green beans, onions, cauliflower, carrots, cucumber, celery, two kinds of olives, and herbs. The vegetables are really chunky so it adds to the texture.

My version of the Polenta Vegetable Bake

I also made some stuffed foccacia bread. Yes, from scratch and dairy free. It is an easy recipe using whole spelt flour. This is the same recipe I posted a couple days ago with different stuffing. After the second rising I stuffed little rolls of dough with the Mama Nano's sauce, about 1/3 cup each. They can be served as a meal themselves. This stuffed bread was a very good idea.


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