Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pantry Purge: Easy Italian Polenta Bake

Pantry Purge challenges me to use up items that have been languishing in my pantry for a while. It's similar to Ingredient Elimination (see a few examples here, here, and here), except in ingredient elimination I develop/seek out recipes to use up a perishable, partially used ingredient in my fridge. In pantry purge, I scavenge through my pantry for items lurking in the dark.

                                                  Another Ugly but Goodie Casserole 

I located a package of sundried tomato & garlic polenta that was (ehem) past its sell-by date. Whoops. Since it still looked safe, I figured I'd give it a go. I put this together on an evening that I had just a little time, and I took some shortcuts (jarred sauce, pre-shredded cheese). The whole thing is put together in about 15 mins, then bakes. It's a great weeknight meal.

Italian Polenta Bake (serves 4)
  • 1 roll premade polenta (I used sundried tomato & garlic)
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 C chopped onion
  • 2 C fresh spinach, rinsed and drained 
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 small jar pasta sauce (I used Newman's Own Fra Diavlo)
  • 1 C shredded mozzarella
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly oil a small baking dish (I used a 9x9). Cut the polenta into 1/2 in rounds, and arrange in a single layer on the baking dish. 
2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions, and saute until lightly browned, about 7 mins. Add the spinach, a bit of salt and pepper, and saute til wilted, a couple mins. 
3. Spread the onion/spinach mix over the polenta. Pour the jar of sauce over the mixture and sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top. 
4. Bake, covered for 20 mins. Increase the heat to 375, uncover and cook for 15 more mins until the cheese begins to bubble. Serve hot. 

Kitchen Notes: While I think this will be good with any sauce, I think the spicy sauce gives it a little extra oomph. Crushed red pepper would also be good in the spinach.

Verdict? I'm decided that I love this as a quick weeknight meal. I'm looking forward to making it again and again. A fun alternative to spaghetti or eggplant parm.

1 comment:

  1. This looks and sounds really good and makes a quick easy meal. I love polenta. Have a great day.