Dinner with Kirsten

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Easy as Polenta Pie

August 2nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

Polenta Pie

I’m so proud of this dish that I’ve rattled off instructions on how to make it to a handful of people, including the check-out guy at Trader Joe’s. It’s one of those golden main courses that can be made a million different ways, depending on the ingredients you have handy and what you feel like eating. With a little bit of chopping, a little bit of sautéing, a little bit of baking, it’s done and delicious.

Any combination of veggies, cheese and meat would do for the pie filling. I used spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, and a mix of cheeses I had in my fridge—sharp cheddar, Colby-Jack and Comté.

The Comté was an unexpected jewel of a cheese that added a sweet nuttiness to my polenta pie. A firm cow’s milk cheese similar to Swiss Gruyère, more Comté is produced in France than any other cheese. It’s made in the French Alps, with the milk from small scattered herds being pooled to create massive 90 pound cheese wheels that are aged for months, sometimes years, before being sold. It was good on crackers, but I was amazed by the round depth of flavor it added when baked.

Geoff and I ate this entire pie for one dinner, and I bought more pre-cooked polenta at Trader Joe’s the next day. This is going to be a staple weeknight main dish for me. It’s quick, easy, versatile, somewhat healthy and I love it. And now, when I catch myself gushing about the virtues of polenta pie to unsuspecting strangers, co-workers and family members, I’m glad I’ll be able to refer them to DWK for an actual recipe.

Kirsten’s Polenta Pie
Adapted from Gourmet

For Filling:
You can use whatever combination of veggies or meat you want. Just make sure everything is fully cooked before adding it to the pie. This is what I used for this particular pie and it turned out great.
Bunch of Spinach
1 zucchini, sliced into half moon pieces
1 yellow squash, sliced into half moon pieces

For Pie:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (16- to 18-oz) ready-made plain polenta roll (plastic-wrapped)
1 cup jarred tomato sauce (just enough to layer on top of the polenta)
Cheese – Use a couple handfuls of good melting cheeses. I used a combination of Sharp Cheddar, Colby-Jack and Comté.

Heat a little olive oil in a sauté pan and throw in the zucchini and yellow squash. Cook until soft and a little browned, but still somewhat crunchy. Add spinach and stir until wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Oil a 9-inch pie plate or large gratin dish with 1 teaspoon oil. Cut polenta roll crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and line pie plate with half of slices, overlapping slightly to cover bottom of pie plate. Spread tomato sauce over polenta, then scoop in the pie filling mixture and sprinkle with half of your cheese. Top with remaining half of polenta slices, then spread the rest of the cheese over the top.

Bake until bubbling and golden, about 20 minutes. Let pie stand 5 minutes to firm up and cool, then dig in!

Tags: cheese log · dinner · italian · quick fix · recipes

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