I don’t think I have ever tasted a lasagna I didn’t like. This polenta lasagna is no exception. I am half Italian so I was raised on a lot of lasagna! Since going vegan and also eliminating gluten from my son’s diet, I have revamped several lasagna recipes and created a few new ones. Today’s Polenta Lasagna is one of them!
I was brainstorming some ways to use polenta, as it is super low fat and low calorie. I am trying to lose a few pounds (some indulgent ones from summer partying + some stubborn ones that haven’t wanted to come off for a couple of years.) I am super motivated right now because my eldest daughter is becoming a bat mitzvah at the end of next month and I want to rock my dress for the pictures! In my effort to cut back on some of my favorite foods (that’s right, pasta!), I have been getting creative with what I can use to replace my favorite carbs. You can buy a roll of polenta at Trader Joe’s at a very affordable price, so that makes it cheap, along with all of the lo-cal health benefits above. Plus, it is cornmeal, which makes it gluten-free, so my whole family can eat it. Hence, my Polenta Lasagna was born!
The Secret Sauce
The meatless “meat” sauce in this recipe is E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. I could eat a pot of just the meat sauce! That is how much I love this meat sauce. It is a bit of a time commitment and labor of love, but it is SO worth the time and effort. My advice is to make a double batch and freeze half for another time. The good news is that the meat sauce is the most laborious and time consuming part of the whole recipe. The rest of the polenta lasagna uses store bought ingredients – dairy-free ricotta, canned marinara sauce, and the polenta (Trader Joe’s roll).
A Word About Ricotta and Marinara
A lasagna is only as good as the ingredients that you layer into it. Therefore, the quality of dairy-free ricotta and marinara sauce is critical. I am partial to the canned marinara sauce at Trader Joe’s. If money were no object, I’d splurge for the really good stuff – San Marzano’s or Victoria’s marinara sauces available at Whole Foods. If you want to spend the extra time, make your own! For ricotta, Kite Hill’s ricotta is hands down the only cheese I use in this recipe. It is salty and creamy and everything ricotta should be. It is amazing. Allison Rivers Samson has a recipe for a homemade ricotta that is also very tasty.
Putting It All Together
Once you have all your ingredients, this polenta lasagna recipe comes together very easily and quickly. Start just like you would any lasagna by pouring a layer of marinara sauce in the bottom of your pan. Next, add your polenta slices, followed by your meat sauce and ricotta. Follow with another layer of marinara sauce and repeat two more times, ending with marinara sauce.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3-4 slices of tempeh bacon (such as LightLife)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 packages of vegan ground “beef” (such as Beyond Meat)
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- One 28-ounce can tomato puree
- 2 28-ounce cans marinara sauce
- 1 package Kite Hill ricotta
- 1 1/2 packages polenta rolls
- 1/4 basil, sliced in a chiffonade
- 1. In a large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the “bacon.” Cook for 1-2 minutes and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until softened, about 8 minutes and add the garlic. Cook it until it smells really good (about 1 minute!)
- 2. Add the “beef” and cook about 3-4 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the liquid is cooked off, about 5 minutes.
- 3. Stir in the tomato puree and 1 cup of water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and cook over low heat for about 30-45 minutes, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
- 1. Pour about 1/4 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a lasagna pan or casserole dish.
- 2. Lay 1/3 of the polenta slices down over the marinara sauce.
- 3. Pour 1/3 of the "meat" sauce over the polenta.
- 4. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the "meat sauce."
- 5. Pour 1/3 of the remaining sauce over the lasagna and continue steps 2-4, ending with the remaining marinara sauce on top.
- 6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Top with freshly topped basil and more marinara sauce.
My family loved this lasagna, as did I! My husband claimed it as, “Delicious,” which is always a big win for me as he still eats meat. If he loves it, I know I did good! Serve this with a simple side salad and dinner is served. It really comes together quickly if you make the “meat sauce” ahead of time.
Tell me, how do you eat polenta? I’d love to learn some more ways to eat this figure friendly food!