It was a typical Tuesday: run Rue to swim class, volunteer in a classroom, then do the afternoon carpool. And I had to work that night. I supposed the family needed to eat, so I needed to squeeze in some cooking time. I was going to make the old standby–gluten-free spaghetti with meat sauce–when I spied some polenta in the pantry. It’s also gluten-free, which is good for Lupe. And I decided to try something new.
My other culinary “somethings new” have included delights such as salmon fettuccine, a garbled, creamy, pink mess that stank up the house for days. So, knowing my history, I was definitely taking a risk.
The cast of characters: one pound leanest ground beef or turkey you can find, one 18-oz container of polenta, two 14.5-oz cans of diced tomatoes (or one 28-oz can, half an onion, 2 cloves of garlic, chopped, mozzarella cheese to top (3/4 cup or so), basil for garnish, red pepper flakes for garnish (optional)
The garlic’s feeling left out. Add it to the pan and stir for about 30 seconds. If you like heat, this would be a good time to toss in a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Let them smoke in the bottom of the pan to bring out their flavor.
While the sauce is simmering, work on the polenta. In an 8×8 glass baking dish (you could also use a casserole):
Cover in foil and bake in a 375 degree oven about 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the cheese is completely melted and slightly browned.
At this point, I ran off to work for several hours. I was famished at the end of the night and wondered if I’d be coming home to an empty Pyrex. I was actually worried I’d be coming home to a full Pyrex because the concoction was deemed inedible by my family.
There were one and a half slices left.
As late as it was, Nacho Man came downstairs to compliment the chef. I was too busy tearing into a slice to say much.
Polenta Lasagna (4 hearty servings with leftovers)
one pound leanest ground beef or turkey you can find
one 18-oz container of polenta
two 14.5-oz cans of diced tomatoes, or one 28-oz can
half a large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 – 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
basil for garnish (optional)
red pepper flakes for garnish (optional)
1. Brown the meat in a large, deep skillet on medium-high heat.
2. Add onions and cook approximately 4-5 minutes, or until onions are opaque.
3. Add garlic. Stir constantly for approximately 30 seconds. You can also add red pepper flakes to taste.
4. Add tomatoes. Reduce heat and simmer approximately 20 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Mash polenta into the bottom of an 8×8 glass baking dish that has been lightly greased.
7. Spoon meat sauce over polenta.
8. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over meat sauce.
9. Cover dish with foil and bake approximately 25 minutes. Remove foil to allow cheese to melt and brown.
10. Garnish with basil or red peppers, if desired.
11. Eat fast so you can beat the rest of your tablemates to the seconds.