Cheers to local vegetables! Okra, spinach, fennel, onion, and mushrooms. All baked on polenta topped with ricotta cheese and a fennel onion puree. We can call this a lighter modified version of lasagna. No noodles or mozzarella or tomato sauce added in the mix. For the polenta I was lazy and used one of the polenta rolls you see in the grocery store. In the past I’ve never been too thrilled with these, normally sautéing slices, but baking is definitely the way to go. The texture turns soft but not mushy. Anything to save me some energy and time in the kitchen these days.
Polenta Vegetable Bake
- 1 roll polenta, I used Food Merchant’s Basil Garlic
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine, separated
- 8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup okra, chopped
- small bunch of fresh spinach, chopped ~3 cups
- 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon chicken base
- 8 oz ricotta cheese
- olive oil
- fresh basil
- fresh thyme
- Make ‘sauce’: saute onion and 1/2 the chopped fennel over medium high heat. Season with s&p. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup white wine. Add 1 teaspoon bouillon and 1/2 cup water. Season with s&p. Simmer over low heat until fennel is super tender. Blend until a sauce is formed, somewhat thick. Set aside.
- Over medium high heat saute the remaining fennel in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the mushrooms and okra. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup white wine. Add spinach to wilt and remove from heat. Toss in fresh basil and fresh thyme (or any other herbs) and season with s&p.
- Slice polenta into 1/2 inch rounds and layer all in the bottom of an oiled 8×8 pyrex dish. Top with 1/3 of the sauce. Layer in all the vegetables packing them down. Top with ricotta cheese and lastly pour the rest of the sauce on top.
- Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, until sides are bubbling and top is starting to brown.