Baked Cheesy Polenta with Greens and Spicy Tomato Sauce

24 02 2010
I made this for a dinner party and it was a huge success. The sauce is particularly yummy and very easy to make. I use it on lots of dishes besides polenta, like pasta and pizza. The other great bonus to this recipe is you can make it 24 hours in advance. I love that particularly when I am too busy the day of a party to get all the cooking done.
Serves 4


1 tbsp olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

8-10 cups of chopped greens; Swiss Chard, spinach, kale, broccoli rabe

Butter for greasing dish, plus 1 tbsp butter

2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups water

1 tsp salt

1 cup cornmeal, coarse grained polenta (also known as grits)

3 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup sour cream


2 tbsp olive oil

8 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 (28 ounce) can plum tomatoes, drained and finely diced

2 tbsp mixed chopped fresh herbs, like basil, rosemary, and parsley

salt to taste

squirt of agave, to blend flavors

freshly ground black pepper

To make the sauce:

Heat the oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, herbs, salt, agave, and pepper. Simmer just until the juices thicken, about 10 minutes. (The sauce can be prepared in advance.)


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, then stir in the greens. Cover the pan and cook until the leaves wilt, about 3 minutes. Uncover, stir and then remove the pan from the heat and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 2 to 2 1/2 quart shallow baking dish or a 9×13 inch glass baking dish. Combine the milk, water, and salt in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly drizzle in the cornmeal, whisking all the while with a wire whisk. Continue to cook and whisk the polenta until it begins to thicken. Then switch to a wooden spoon and continue to stir until the polenta thickens fully and pulls away from the side of the pan. This may take up to 15 minutes. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, the 1 tablespoon of butter, and the mozzarella cheese.

Spread half the polenta in the baking dish. Spoon on the greens and distribute evenly. Drop on small spoonfuls of the sour cream and spread it. Spoon on the remaining polenta and spread it out. Sprinkle on the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. (The polenta can be made up to this point 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate then bring to room temperature before baking.)

Bake the polenta for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden on top and sizzling. Cut out pieces and place on plates then top with the tomato sauce and maybe a basil leaf for garnish.




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