This wonderful vegetarian comfort food dish was warm, creamy, cheesy, and delicious! This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. It would also be nice as an indulgent side dish. A crowd pleaser!!
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
For the Polenta:
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup medium or fine cornmeal
- Parmesan for soft polenta, optional
- For soft polenta, use 5 cups water. Bring water to a boil in a medium-size heavy sauce pan over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Pour cornmeal slowly into water, stirring with a wire whisk or wooden spoon. Continue stirring as mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Turn heat to low. Cook for at least 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. If polenta becomes quite thick, thin it with 1/2 cup water, stir well and continue cooking. Add up to 1 cup more water as necessary, to keep polenta soft enough to stir. Put a spoonful on a plate, let it cool, then taste. Grains should be swollen and taste cooked, not raw. Adjust salt and add pepper if you wish.
To assemble the dish:
- 1 pound spinach
- 2 cups ricotta
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch cayenne
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 4 ounces fontina or Swiss cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Basic soft polenta (see recipe above), kept warm
- Blanch spinach briefly in a large pot of boiling water, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Squeeze all excess moisture from spinach and roughly chop.
- In a large bowl, combine chopped spinach and ricotta. Season with salt and pepper, then add cayenne, lemon zest, half the Parmesan and all but 2 tablespoons of the fontina and stir well.
- Butter a 9- by 12-inch casserole dish. Ladle in half of the warm, soft polenta and spread with a spatula to make a thin layer. Spoon spinach mixture evenly over it. Top with remaining soft polenta and spread to smooth the surface. (May be made ahead up to this point, then covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.)
- Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and fontina. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
One Year Ago: