My vegan lasagna was a real treat the other night. I remain committed to incorporated a bit of veganism in to my diet, for no other reason than it can do me no harm and I love a bit of a challenge!
However, my deconstructed polenta lasagna was topped off with a generous amount of fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese and I can’t say I didn’t love every gooey cheesy mouthful of it! The vegan lasagna was in a strange sense more traditional that this one which incorporated cheese.
I made a base from herbed polenta, allowed to chill and set and then bake in the oven to crisp up on the outside. The most simple lasagna ever and one that could be recreated in a number of ways, topping the polenta off with your favourite goodies or slicing it more thinly and layering it up in a more comparable fashion to the layers of pasta lasagna sheets in a customary lasagna.
The herbed polenta as a base was absolutely delicious. Soft on the inside and perfectly crisp on the outside…I lay some roasted eggplant on top, followed by some homemade tomato sauce, and finished it off with a few slices of the fresh mozzarella. Perfect way to use up the leftover eggplant and tomato sauce (as always I made two much for the lasagna the other night but the recipe reflects the required amounts); not forgetting the generous handful of spinach that went on first.
Baked in the oven and then placed under a preheated grill to allow the cheese to brown ever so slightly on top. I probably could have let it go a bit longer but fear of burning got the better of me. The edges of the polenta were quite crisp enough.
Garnished with yet more fresh basil (I’d used a generous helping in the polenta base itself)…it’s best served up immediately, straight from the oven or from under the grill; though allow it cool for a few minutes before digging in as you will burn your mouth!
Even after taking a few shots, when I dived in with a little bit much enthusiasm, cutting in to acquire a generous mouthful, I still managed to burn my tongue. Small mouthfuls are saved for restaurants when I have both the time and manners to savour my food!
Polenta has got to be one the handiest quick and easy things to prepare- that is if you buy the quick cook variety! For some strange reason I always forget just how good it is; I’ll definitely be using it more this year!
Servings – 1
Preparation Time – 5 minutes
Cooking Time – 30 minutes
- 50g (1.7oz or approx. 1/3 cup) quick cook polenta
- 200ml ( ¾ cup +1 tbsp) soy milk
- ½ tbsp fresh basil finely chopped
- 1 small clove of garlic minced
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 serving of polenta base above
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 40g (1.5oz) fresh buffalo mozzarella
- 250ml (1 cup) fresh tomato sauce (or you can use the same quantity of your favourite good quality jar)
- ¼ small eggplant – 1 inch slices roasted as with vegan lasagna
- 1 generous handful of spinach
- ½ tbsp fresh basil for garnish
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
For the Polenta Base
- Add olive oil and garlic to a pan a cook for about 3 minutes. Add in milk, bring to the boil and add in basil, salt and black pepper.
- Remove from the heat and add in polenta. Whisking continually place back over a medium heat and cook polenta for 2-3 minutes.
- Place polenta on a baking tray or in small non stick rectangular oven proof dish where you can leave it to set. The polenta will be thick enough to place in or on a larger baking tray and mould in to single rectangle without it spreading too thinly. Ideally it should be between 1 inch – ½ inches thick.
- Set polenta aside in the fridge to set for at least one hour.
- Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
- Place now set polenta on a non stick baking tray, drizzle with teaspoon of olive oil and rub around the underside to coat. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes (until crisp and starting to brown).
For the Lasagna
- Once polenta has been baked place spinach, eggplant and tomato sauce on top and finish by laying your mozzarella over the mound. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and the spinach wilted.
- Turn your oven to grill/broil or place lasagna under a preheated grill to allow the cheese to brown slight on top for about 3-5 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh basil and serve immediately.