Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Polenta Layered with Bocconcini, Artichokes, Basil and Tomato Sauce

A new twist on an old favourite...baked polenta. This was my way of using up 3 artichoke hearts, some sliced bocconcini and half a can of tomatoes...a very tasty way to do so, if I may say so! We finished the rest off for lunch today, and it was even better than it was last night. This is a good sign, as it means making it ahead works, which can be a great time saver.

I used the canned tomatoes to make a quick tomato sauce, with onion, garlic, tomato paste and oregano. I also added a bit of sugar to counteract the acidity. 

The bocconcini on the top melted and crisped up, the cheese inside stayed nice and gooey. I kept the polenta layers thin, so the overall effect wasn't too heavy.

Start off by making a batch of polenta as shown in the post Polenta Baked with Italian Sausage and Tomatoes. 

Line a 10" square pan with plastic wrap and spread the polenta evenly in the pan. Wrap and allow to cool in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight.

Tip the cooled polenta out of the pan, unwrap it and cut it into 3 equal pieces.

Line a loaf pan with foil, and lightly grease the foil.

Place one of the pieces of polenta into the pan.

Place on top of the polenta:

2 bocconcini slices, torn into smaller pieces
1 1/2 artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Ground black pepper

Cover this with:

1/3 cup tomato sauce

Repeat these layers with the second piece of polenta, and then finish off by placing the last piece of polenta on top.

Cover the polenta with:

1/3 cup tomato sauce
4 slices of bocconcini

If you have tomato sauce left over, spoon it down the sides of the pan. I had about 1/2 cup left over to use in this way.

Place into a pre-heated 350F oven, and bake until it is hot in the middle, the sauce is bubbling and the cheese on top is golden.

This should take between 30 - 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to set for 5 minutes, before serving.

I used each piece of cheese on top as a portion guide, so we each had a piece for dinner, and another for lunch today! Cut it into smaller pieces if that is what you would prefer.

  • You can make a larger amount of polenta and layer this in a square pan if you choose; I made 2/3 of the recipe and used an 8" pan to spread the polenta and an 8" X 5" loaf pan. Try and keep the polenta no more than 3/4" thick if you can.
  • Lining the loaf pan with foil makes serving easy...simply lift the foil out of the pan, gently push the sides down and slice.
  • As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, this can be assembled a day ahead.
  • I served this with pork, but it can be the main meal, especially if you add more vegetables or meat to the layers.
  • Vegetables that can be added include: spinach; grilled peppers, zucchini, mushroom, eggplant; cooked leeks; olives; asparagus.
  • Meat that can be added: any leftover cooked meat, diced or thinly sliced; cooked and crumbled sausage; ham, prosciutto or bacon.
  • Use a purchased tomato sauce to save time, or Basic Tomato Sauce if you have some in the freezer.
  • Pesto or tapenade can be used instead of fresh basil.
  • Grated mozzarella, feta cheese or soft goat cheese can also be used.

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