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Polenta Vegetable Lasagna

Polenta Vegetable Lasagna


For the red sauce:

  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 can Italian San Marzano tomatoes (28-32 ounces), crushed

  • A few leaves fresh basil, torn

For the bechamel sauce and ricotta:

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 3 rounded tablespoons flour

  • 2 cups milk

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1 box frozen spinach (10 ounces), defrosted

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese

For the polenta:

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water

  • 2 1/2 cups quick-cooking polenta

  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen or ground fennel (optional)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  • 4 tablespoons butter, plus some for greasing the casserole

  • 2 cups shredded provolone cheese


For the red sauce: Place a rack in the center of the oven. Heat some EVOO in a medium size Dutch oven or saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and onion to the pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; add the bay leaf and thyme and cook to soften, 5-6 minutes. Next, stir in the wine and the tomato paste. Add the tomatoes and crush with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Bring the sauce to a bubble and reduce the heat to a simmer and thicken, 15 minutes. Pre-heat the broiler. For the bechamel and ricotta: Melt the butter in a saucepot over medium heat and whisk in the flour for 1 minute. Then whisk in the milk and bring to a bubble. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Thicken the sauce and keep warm over low heat. Drain the spinach well and separate it into small pieces. Mix together the fresh ricotta and spinach in a small bowl. For the polenta: Bring the milk and chicken stock to a low boil. Add the polenta and season with the fennel, if using, salt and pepper. Whisk the polenta to mass, 3 minutes. Finish the polenta by stirring in 1/2 of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and the butter. Butter a casserole dish. Add half of the red sauce and top with half of the polenta. Pour the bechamel sauce over the polenta and dot with the ricotta cheese and spinach. Top the bechamel layer with the remainder of the polenta. Top the polenta with more red sauce and the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano and provolone. Reserve theremaining red sauce, if any, to serve on the side. Broil to set and brown, 5 minutes.