Polenta is not exactly a summer food. I get that. But last night while I was doing intervals along the river I started craving polenta. I have no idea why, but I just did. So by time I got back home I needed polenta; badly.
I had eggplants and tomato sauce, so I created this simple yet wonderful polenta dish. Full of flavors and so Italian. To me any dish involving eggplant, tomato and basil deserves to be labeled as “Italian”. So here it is, a magnificent Italian Polenta Pie.
Many are intimidated to try polenta at home. You hear lots of things about how it can become rubbery, or you have to stir forever. It’s none of these things. You just have to nail the correct ratio polenta : water and you’re good to go. And trust me, the proportions I give you in this recipe work pretty well.
Polenta is a thicker cornmeal. It absorbs water and thickers as it cooks, just like oatmeal. No biggies. It cooks pretty fast and you don’t have to do anything besides stirring every now and then.
You might also need to dodge hot polenta splatters when it first starts to boil. But that’s about it.
Thing with polenta it’s that it’s gluten-free, pretty low calorie, almost fat-free and very tasty. When paired with ton a of veggies, it makes for a complete meal full of goodness. All in all this dish is winner. Yes, one more click to convince you: BAM!
Italian Polenta Pie Print this recipe!
Inspired by PinchOfYum
Few notes. This recipe makes for quite a lot of food, so cut quantities in half if you have to feed a smaller crowd. It may look like I used a ton of cheese but it was actually less than a cup, and you might as well skip it if you don’t feel like it.
1 ½ cups polenta
6 cups water
1 + 2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 large eggplants (about 2 ½ lb / 1.2 kg), cubed (not sure how to cube an eggplant? Look here)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 29 oz / 822 gr can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
½ cup water
Mozzarella cheese (or vegan cheese)
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Fill a large bowl with cold water, add 1 teaspoon of salt and stir until salt dissolves completely.
Place eggplant. Let eggplant sit at least for 20 minutes to draw out the bitterness. Drain eggplant cubes and pat them dry.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick pan (I used a non-stick wok) over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute’ for 1 minute, add eggplant cubes and saute’ for 10 minutes stirring every so often, making sure that the eggplant doesn’t stick to the pan.
Add tomato sauce, water, basil, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon of salt, turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.
In the meantime make the polenta. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large non-stick pan, add 2 teaspoons of salt and, using a whisk, add the polenta making sure no lumps form. Continue cooking stirring once in a while to prevent it from sticking all over the bottom (also be careful that the polenta tend to splatter so use a lid). Polenta will thicken as it cooks.
Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes for a soft polenta, adding a little more water if necessary.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Arrange the eggplant mixture in the bottom of a baking dish and spread polenta evenly over the top. Cover with mozzarella cheese (or vegan cheese) and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, turn on the broiler and bake for another minute until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Serve sprinkled with chopped fresh basil and a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes if you want to add a kick.
One serving scores 298 calories, 5.5 grams of fat, 51 grams of carbs and 8.1 grams of protein.