I don’t know about you, but I never really knew what polenta was until recently. It’s not very prominent in the grocery store and I’ve only seen it make an appearance on a restaurant menu a handful of times. And you can buy it one of two ways-cooked, in a log (usually in the produce section) or in its granular form in a box, which we found near the boxed rice and potatoes. The kind that comes in the box is the best because you can customize the flavorings and measurements to suit your recipe. When Maria posted a vegetarian polenta pie, I was intrigued. So I set out to make my own version that includes ground chicken + quinoa so that I can make sure I get my daily dose of protein and fiber The result was a delicious, cheesy pie reminiscent of a lighter and tastier version of lasagna.
Now don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list for this recipe. All the different layers come together easily and simultaneously-I cooked the quinoa the night before and everything else was cooked in 30 minutes before popping it all into the oven for another 30 minutes. It’s easy and delicious and reheats beautifully!
I started out by slicing and quartering an eggplant, a zucchini and a red pepper. Roasted with salt, pepper and olive oil at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes and they were perfectly tender.
While that was in the oven, I sauteed a package of mushrooms, the ground chicken and a little garlic until the chicken was cooked through.
Lastly, I cooked the polenta with a little milk, butter, sugar, salt and Parmesan cheese. It cooks extremely quickly-about 5 minutes from start to finish. I added in the quinoa that I had already prepared and mixed it all together to form the bottom layer of the pie.
On top of the polenta went the ground chicken….
Then the roasted vegetables followed by a jar of tomato sauce. Now you could certainly make your own sauce as well, but I decided to take advantage of the convenience of store bought sauce since I was cooking each of the other layers.
Finally, cover the entire thing with a whole bunch of mozzarella cheese. Cook it for about 30 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble and slightly brown.
Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it. The layers of flavor in this dish are so amazing-creamy and cheesy polenta, the delicious combination of garlic and mushrooms sauteed with the chicken, and the tender texture of the roasted vegetables. I officially love polenta after using it in this dish and have been purposefully looking for other ways to use it in our meal rotations. This could easily be prepared the night before and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake it. Just like a regular lasagna, it would be great for a crowd. Enjoy
- 1 zucchini, cut into slices and quartered
- 1 small eggplant, cut into slices and quartered
- 1 red pepper, cut into slices and quartered
- 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 pound of ground chicken
- 1 small package of button mushrooms
- 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa, cooked
- 1/2 cup polenta
- 1 1/2 cups of skim milk
- 1/2 Tablespoon of butter
- 1/2 Teaspoon of sugar
- 1/2 Teaspoon of salt
- 1 Can of your favorite tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
- Cook quinoa according to instructions. Set aside
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Layer vegetables on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes.
- Once vegetables are done, lower oven temperature to 375 degrees
- Meanwhile, add ground chicken, mushrooms and garlic to a sauté pan and cook until chicken is done. Set aside
- In a pot, bring milk, butter, sugar and salt to a light simmer. Add in polenta, whisking constantly. Once the mixture starts to thicken, use a wooden spoon and continue to stir until the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the pot and forms a thick ball. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
- Pour polenta in with the quinoa and mix until both are well combined
- Pour polenta/quinoa mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 casserole dish
- Place meat and mushroom mixture on top of polenta, evenly distributing it
- Next, layer the roasted vegetables on top of the meat
- Pour entire jar of sauce over the roasted vegetable layer
- Cover sauce with mozzarella cheese
- Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until the cheese begins to become bubbly and brown
- Let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting