Poor, poor little polenta dish. You taste much better than you look. Ah well.
This recipe is sort of the last hurrah of winter meals, even thought winter officially ended a month ago. It’s the kind of dish that fits into the winter rotation admirably. The household where this was tested accepted the dish with joy and compliments.
But why a winter dish? Consider the primary ingredients – Corn meal, onions, cheese. All of these ingredients are ones that store quite well, and can last for several months in the proper storage conditions. Hence it is the type of recipe that one would pull out when trying to make up for the lack of fresh meats and vegetables.
However, polenta is a temperamental creature, and the less you handle it, the better. Because it is moisture laden, it can fall apart the more it is manipulated. I should have cooked the polenta a little, which would have resulted in a firmer slice, which would have then resulted in a better picture. Ah well.
- 6 cups of water
- 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups of coarse grain polenta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 large red onions (sliced and quartered)
- 2/3 lb baby spinach, destemmed
- 1 Tablespoon oregano, minced
- 10 oz Asagio cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the water and salt to a rolling boil. Slowly pour the polenta into the water, stirring continuously. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to bubble and sputter, which is when you should lower the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking the polenta for 45 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so. The polenta should be thick and unclumped at the end of the 45 minutes.
Pour the polenta into a 9 inch loaf pan. Allow to cool for two hours.
Set your oven to broil. Turn the polenta out onto a cutting board and slice it into 1/2″ thick pieces, and then cut each slice in half (which should result in polenta “squares”).
Place the squares on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Place in the oven broil for 5-7 minutes, allowing the polenta to become golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
Set the oven for baking at 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9″x13″ casserole dish.
Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry for 10 minutes. Then add the oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Fry for another 5 minutes and then remove from heat.
Place half of the polenta slices on the bottom of the casserole dish. Cover the polenta with spinach leaves. Layer the spinach with 1/2 of the cooked onions, and top with five ounces of the grated asagio. Repeat the polenta/spinach/onion/cheese layering a second time.
Place the dish into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the top layer of cheese is completely melted, which even comes first. Remove from oven and allow to set for five minutes. Slice and serve.
Garnish with oregano and grated Parmesan cheese.