Polenta Lasagna

polenta lasagna casserole recipe ground beef tomatoes Italian

Polenta Pasticciata con Ragu di Carne, a dish from the Campania region of southern Italy. This is a polenta casserole with a typical Italian ragu di carne.  Polenta is made of coarse yellow cornmeal slowly cooked in water or stock until the desired consistency is met.  While polenta is more often served soft and creamy, the polenta in this dish is cooked for 30-40 minutes and left to firm up until it is firm and can be sliced.  .

Polenta isn’t very commonly known or eaten in the U.S..  It’s still mostly eaten in Italy.  Polenta has been around since Roman times and was originally a peasant food.   And though traditionally a poor man’s food, it is considered fine dining in the U.S. and is commonly served in more upscale restaurants.

This Polenta “Lasagna” is Italian comfort food at its finest.  Beautiful in presentation and delicious to the taste.

If you haven’t already, come connect with me on The Daring Gourmet’s Facebook Page.  Would love to have you on board!

polenta lasagna casserole recipe ground beef tomatoes Italian

 

Polenta Lasagna
 
A Polenta casserole from Southern Italy.
:
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the Polenta:
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • For the Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 cans (15 oz) petite diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ lb fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced, or 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
Instructions
  1. To make the polenta: In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Slowly add the cornmeal in a thin, steady stream while whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then add the salt. When the polenta begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, whisking steadily, until the mixture is thick and pulls away from the pot, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Oil two 8-inch square baking pans and pour the polenta into them, dividing equally. Use a rubber spatula moistened with water to spread the mixture and flatten it evenly. Once it has cooled, place it in the refrigerator until firm, at least one hour. The polenta can be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge covered with plastic wrap.
  3. In the meantime, to make the sauce, melt the butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the ground beef and stir to break up any lumps. Cook for 10 minutes until the beef is browned and no pink is remaining.
  4. Add the wine and bring to a rapid boil for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, herbs, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Return the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer, uncovered for 45 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a large rectangle baking dish.
  6. Cut the polenta into eight 4-inch squares and place half of the squares in the bottom of the rectangle baking dish. Spoon half of the sauce evenly over the polenta squares and top with half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan-Reggiano. Arrange the remaining 4 polenta squares on top and cover with the remaining sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan-Reggiano cheeses.
  7. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cheese melts and the sauce is bubbling. Let the casserole stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Inspired by Michele Scicolone, Williams Sonoma

 

 

37 Responses

  1. wrote on

    This looks delicious! I’m putting it on “the list.”

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thank you! So glad to have made your list and thanks for stopping by..

  2. wrote on

    WOW and YUMMMMMM! I need to try something like this, I heart polenta!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thanks for the compliment, Sophia, and for stopping by!

  3. wrote on

    Oh wow! What a yummy looking and creative lasagna. I hope you’ll consider adding this to my weekend link-up. We are featuring casseroles. -Savannah http://www.hammocktracks.com

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thanks, Savannah. I’d be honored to add it to your line-up, and thank you! How do I go about doing that? Off skiing now for the day with my hubby, but will be thrilled to add it this evening.

  4. wrote on

    This looks so insanely delicious. Just got back from Bologna- the ragu there was amazing! You haven’t lived til you’ve tried bolognese in Bologna!!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thank you! I’m confident you’ll find that this ragu as well as the Spaghetti with Authentic Ragu di Carne (http://www.daringgourmet.com/2013/01/08/36/) is as good as what you fell in love with in Bologna. Every time I make and eat it I reminisce about my time spent in Italy. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. wrote on

    This looks seriously incredible. Pinning because I really really want to try this! I LOVE Italian food and this is looking perfectly authentic. Thanks for the post!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thank you very much for your compliment, Jaclyn. I hope you do make it – and be sure to let me know what you think. If you love authentic Italian food, you’ll also love the Chicken Marsala, Ragu di Carne and Chicken Cacciatore (another polenta dish). Thanks for visiting – I hope you return! Happy Cooking!

  6. Anonymous

    wrote on

    I don’t know when the Italians started eating polenta, but since corn comes from the “New World,” it couldn’t have been before 1492.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Polenta dates back to ancient Roman times, was a staple in Roman cuisine, and was made with a variety of grains. When maize was introduced to Europe in the 15th-16th century, Italians started making polenta with cornmeal as well.

  7. annie

    wrote on

    i made this for supper and i love it very much! i was trying to find an alternative to lasagna and i found this! i have to tell you it was way easier to make than a traditional lasagna! thank you for a wonderful recipe!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Annie, I’m so happy to hear that! And you’re right, it is less work than traditional lasagna. I think many people look at the picture though and feel a little intimidated by it, not taking the time to read just how simple it is to make. It looks impressive, tastes impressive, and is impressively simple! Thanks so much for your feedback!

  8. julia

    wrote on

    can’t wait to make this!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Julia! Let me know how it goes!

  9. Jerms

    wrote on

    1)love this recipe 2)not to be a jerk, but…here was *no corn* in ancient Rome, folks, though they did make polenta-like things out of chestnuts and farro. Sorry, anthropology and history-minded person can’t let that slide.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Jerms, no one said there was corn in ancient Rome, so no argument there. As I said in a previous comment, “Polenta dates back to ancient Roman times, was a staple in Roman cuisine, and was made with a variety of grains. When maize was introduced to Europe in the 15th-16th century, Italians started making polenta with cornmeal as well.” I can imagine that a chestnut-based polenta would taste pretty amazing! I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe, thanks. Best, Kimberly

  10. Tammi

    wrote on

    We really enjoyed this Kimberly! I used a sheet pan to cool and chill the polenta, resisting the urge to add parmesan which in retrospect was a good thing as I think it would have made the polenta too salty. Have you ever frozen this? We go for our annual week in the Poconos next month and I try to make things ahead of time so that I don’t have to do much while on vacation. Oh, and I’m waiting for my Essig Essenz to arrive. Harry is quite impatient to try it, he will practically drink vinegar straight!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Fantastic!! I’m glad you enjoyed it, Tammi, and appreciate the feedback! No, I haven’t tried freezing it but polenta is supposed to freeze very well. From eHow: “Polenta freezes wonderfully and the flavor can actually improve with time. Frozen polenta is ideal for a quick lunch or dinner.” If Harry can comfortably handle drinking even a tablespoon of Essig Essenz straight then the man’s stomach is made of steel! Wow, the stuff is potent!
      Have a wonderful vacation in the Poconos!

  11. Tammi

    wrote on

    Oh, also meant to tell you that I got a great deal on the Dusseldorf mustard from World Market. I had checked on Amazon and the shipping price was horrendous so I did some searching. Check them out, lots of interesting stuff!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      That’s great to know, thanks for the tip, Tammi! We have a local World Market and always find some great things. We have a local German grocery store where I usually buy the mustard. I’ll need to check World Market to see if they’re cheaper ;)

  12. Beth

    wrote on

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I have been searching for it and couldn’t remember where I had seen it last (Williams-Sonoma website years ago). Anyway, it is fabulous. I don’t bother to cut it into squares. I just layer the top piece right on the bottom one and bake it like lasagna and cut it into squares after baking. I have also tried it with smoked mozzarella which was interesting as well.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Wonderful, so glad you’ve found it, Beth! I’m pretty sure the WS version is available online and you can compare it to this one. I’ve made several alterations and am very happy with the results. Happy cooking!

  13. MD

    wrote on

    Has anyone made this? A tablespoon of salt? It is WAY too salty…..

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Have you actually tried it, MD? 2 cups of cornmeal to 1 tablespoon of salt is pretty standard. Do a Google search and you’ll find it’s the common ratio across a variety of polenta recipes. As with any recipe though, the salt content can be tailored to your own preferences.

  14. wrote on

    Love your recipes. I know this site is all about traditional Italian recipes, but I just wanted to let you know that this lasagna recipe worked out wonderfully with some locally available southeast Virginia ingredients. I found your site when looking for ways to use leftover cheese grits after I cooked way too much for company. I utilized the cooled grits in the manner in which you used the polenta, and subbed ground venison for the ground beef in the sauce. It was really good, and a neat change of pace. For my next experiment I plan to recreate your braciole with venison. I have a nice roast cut from a doe that should do well. I don’t know how you feel about wild game, but I appreciate you sharing your recipes. Many of them translate well to what I have available.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      That’s fantastic, chameleon! I’m thrilled to hear you enjoyed this and I’ve no doubt the venison worked beautifully. How I feel about wild game is that I wish I had access to some! :) My husband has talked about trying his hand at hunting but neither of us can muster up the courage to do it. I would bawl my eyes out and he’s too much of a softie himself. So we really wish we had some friends who hunt who were willing to share! ;) Please let us know how the braciole turns out. Happy cooking!

  15. Heather

    wrote on

    I made a version of this the other night. Just a tip – it’s actually pretty quick meal if you already have the polenta made. We had polenta with a turkey stew one night and I made a double batch, poured the leftovers onto a baking sheet to cool and harden, and then sliced them up, stuck them in the fridge until the end of the week when I made this. I already had meat sauce in the freezer, so voila!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thanks for the feedback, Heather! It is quick indeed. I think I make a note of that in my post that this dish lends itself perfectly to a make-ahead meal. And it looks like the kind of meal you’ve spent hours on! ;)

  16. wrote on

    Questions… You use two 8 inch square pyrex to harden the polenta. Then do you use a 9 x 13 inch pyrex to
    bake the Polenta Lasagna? Thanks a bunch!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi JoAnn! Yes, or whatever baking dish you have that will fit the lasagna. Keep in mind that they’re initially in one layer as they’re firming up, so they take up more room. When you assemble the lasagna they will be stacked.

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