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I’m a college student so I went to quick route for this recipe. As wonderful as homemade polenta sounds, I had a tube of pre-cooked polenta in the cabinet so I used that. I mushed it up before hand so that I could sprinkle it into the casserole and pretend it did not come from a tube.
I didn’t wait 2 hours after I assembled it. (I was lazy.) The layers blended together a bit, so it wasn’t pretty like the picture, but it tasted great anyways!
I also needed to get rid of some romana tomatoes and zucchini. I sliced them both up and sprinkled them on top with a little extra mozzarella.
It was a pretty easy dish, and didn’t take that long (considering I skipped making the polenta and didn’t let it sit for 2 hours). I now have food for an entire week!
I tried making the Monday-night version of this recipe tonight. I whipped up the polenta first, then refrigerated it while I prepared the rest. It was close to room temp and feeling “set” when I pulled it out of the fridge. After baking and cooling, everything was very tasty, but also very runny. Thought I’d post this for those who cook late like me — save this for the weekend. ;-)
I made this the other night and added some cooked hamburger. I also used cornmeal. I noticed that when using cornmeal you have to bake it and refrigerate it overnight to let the cornmeal set up otherwise it is runny. I, myself, think this would be kind of bland without adding some ground beef. We thought this was sooooo good!
Could you use cornmeal instead?
You could use coarse cornmeal. ~Elise
I wonder if you could use masa harina instead of the polenta?
Interesting idea. It does have a slightly different taste. Might work better with Mexican cheeses. ~Elise
This was pretty tasty with just a few modifications to add more flavor. I added red pepper flakes, dash of cinnamon and chopped kalamata olives to the sauce. Otherwise, made everything per the recipe. Really looking forward to the leftovers!
Do you think it would be good to try this with some autumn flavors for Thanksgiving? Like, perhaps, butternut squash, sage, and bechamel? Thanks!
Sure, why not? ~Elise
I have made this dish several times, and it is always a hit. Even my particular sister-in-law loved it! I am a huge fan of Simply Recipes- thanks for sharing your family recipes.
I really didn’t like this. The polenta had a weird watery flavor, the texture was mushy, and the cheese didn’t pack enough punch. What was I doing wrong?
Could be you just didn’t like the flavors. Fontina is rather mild. ~Elise
you can use part chicken stock for the water and cut it back to 3 cups. And stir constantly . If your stock doesn’t have a lot of salt make sure you add salt to the cornmeal while cooking.
This was a fantastic recipe. I added some olives to the tomato sauce and used a mix of cheeses that I had on hand (feta, parmesan, and gorgonzola…) which was a great way to get rid of some odds and ends. Thanks for sharing it, Elise!
Is the 2-hour wait at the end of step 3 necessary? I’m hoping to speed up the total required time…
I’ve only made it as prescribed by the recipe. If you skip that step, please let us know how it turns out. ~Elise
I made this recipe for supper tonight and it was awesome. I have become a real fan of polenta. I will make this again for sure!
Made it for dinner and it was wonderful. I never made polenta before and learned how important it is to add the cornmeal slowly. I didn’t and my polenta was very lumpy. The lumps didn’t cook evenly and had a real earthy/dirt flavor. I’m eager to try it again, whisk and patience in hand.
Baking polenta, tomato sauce and cheese together is a sure winner. For even more excitement, I like to add some Gorgonzola cheese (part in the layers, part on top).
I did a variation on this tonight and it was very good. Thank you for the idea and the inspiration.
I make this basic dish once or twice a month. I have found that is is very forgiving & tasty casserole. Sometimes I use meat sauce, and/or add a layer or eggplant or zucchini (slice, bake or broil first), or add any left over cooked meat like cubed/ shredded chicken, turkey or meatloaf. The leftovers are a much coveted lunchbox treat, eaten cold or reheated.
YUM! I’ve made a dish similar to this – it’s in the 1995 edition of the Joy of Cooking. Nikki, if I remember correctly, that recipe does call for the polenta to be refrigerated instead of letting it stand at room temperature. I believe it’s just for 30 minutes before the casserole is actually assembled, but I’m sure it would be fine in the fridge overnight too, assembled or not.
Do you think I could refrigerate it after step 3 and heat the caserole the next day?
Can I use ground beef / turkey in this recipe? I think I would like it, but my carnivorous family might not approve.
Hi Al, I would suggest adding Italian sausage, browning it first of course. ~Elise