Vegetarian Polenta Pie
There are lots of reasons to make vegetarian dishes for a meal. There’s the health aspect of eating more vegetables, there’s the lower impact on our environment of eating less meat, but to me, one of the primary reasons is to make a vegetarian guest feel welcome at my dinner table. I hate having something on the side for anyone with special dietary needs – I’d rather just make something we can all enjoy together. And boy, did my family all enjoy this!The technique couldn’t be simpler, really. First make a simple polenta base to form the “crust” and top that with some parmesan.Top that crust with some sautéed vegetables that are tossed with marinara, some hunks of fresh mozzarella cheese……and a sprinkling of pine nuts. Bake the whole thing until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes.This is hearty enough for a vegetarian entree, or can be served as a vegetable side dish. It works equally well for dinner or a Sunday brunch. Cut leftovers into single servings, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze.
- 3 cups water or stock
- 1 cup coarse grain polenta
- ¼ cup pesto, divided
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium eggplant, cubed
- 1 fennel bulb, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cubed or grated
- Bring the water to a boil and whisk in the polenta, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken. Stir in half of the pesto, cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the polenta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the eggplant, fennel, onion and zucchini. Season with salt and pepper and cook until just tender, stirring often. When cooked, remove from heat and stir in the marinara sauce and the remaining pesto.
- Spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch casserole dish with cooking spray, and spread the cooked polenta into the bottom, using a spatula to spread it evenly. Sprinkle some of the parmesan over the top. Pour the vegetables over the top and spread into an even layer. Top with the mozzarella cheese, remaining parmesan cheese, and pine nuts.
- Cover with foil and bake at 375 until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before slicing and serving.