Traditionally, polenta is Italian peasant food. It’s extremely inexpensive to make, since all you really need for basic polenta is water, cornmeal, a pot, and a heating source. I love polenta because it’s so versatile. You can bake, fry, or grill polenta in a variety of shapes with different complementary ingredients. It can also be served soft.
This polenta cheese bake is derived from several different recipes around the Web. For this recipe, you will need:
- 6 cups of water
- 1 3/4 cup of corn meal
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 cups of shredded cheese
- 3 cups of ground hamburger or Italian sausage
- 1/2 jar of pasta sauce
Preheat oven to 350. Bring water and salt to a boil in a large pot. Whisk in corn meal, a little at a time. It’s very important to not add it all at once, or it will get lumpy. Turn heat down to low.
Let polenta cook until it thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir often to remove lumps. Once thickened, remove from heat. Add butter and cheese.
Mix polenta with meat and spoon into baking dish. Since it’s just the two of us, I actually only used half the polenta and a smaller dish. The rest I’ll freeze as cakes for a meal at a later date (see instructions at bottom of this post).
Pour pasta sauce over polenta and meat mixture.
Place pan in oven until sauce is bubbling (approximately 15 minutes).
Remove from oven, let cool, and serve!
- Use milk or cream instead of water
- Add caramelized onions
- Add garlic
- Add mushrooms
- Add mixed veggies
- Substitute ground chicken or turkey for beef