Polenta Cheese Bake – Polenta Pasticciata

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This update to my “Ceci Polenta” recipe is now a casserole with melted cheese and caramelized onions and it’s super easy to make ahead. So yeah, that’s going to automatically make it one of my favorites.

Also, having a delicious vegetarian gluten free Italian recipe in my arsenal is not a bad thing when balancing dietary restrictions for social occasions.polenta casserole-13

So far the only tricky part to it is figuring out how many times to multiply the recipe to leave at least one full serving of leftovers. I made it for my brother’s birthday dinner last weekend and I had to physically remove the pan from the table to make sure everyone got a bit of it.

You can use the recipe for polenta I posted before (see this link) to make it with garbanzo or chickpea flour. Which can be found as “gram” flour or “besan” if you have an Indian market nearby.  Just leave out the cheese from the polenta itself, since you’ll be layering lots into the recipe separately.

Garbanzo polenta on the left, Cornmeal polenta on the right.
Garbanzo polenta on the left, Cornmeal polenta on the right.

Icorn polentat’s pretty good with normal corn polenta too, which you can buy premade in a sausage style packaging that would make it very little effort (except for cooking the onions).  Traditional cornmeal polenta has to be stirred for like 20 minutes before it gets thick. If you time it so you’re cooking the onions at the same time it’s not that much extra work, but still I like the garbanzo texture better too.

Polenta Cheese Bake

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • onions for polenta pasticciata4 onions, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • salt & pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Cooked polenta (choose whichever you prefer):
    • 1 recipe of Ceci polenta made without cheese, spread into a thin layer & chilled to thicken
    • 2 logs precooked cornmeal polenta
    • homemade thick cornmeal polenta made with 4 cups coarse cornmeal, spread into a 1/2″ layer
  • 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley

Cook onions in melted butter and olive oil over low heat until they turn golden brown. This is the longest part, be patient because it will create the best flavor. Add more oil if they seem to be absorbing the oil to quickly. Season with salt & pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.

Cut polenta into circles – gather up scraps (if you didn’t buy it in a log) and reform the scraps into more pieces. Technically you could also leave them as crumbles, but the circles do make it easier to cut into servings later.

garbanzo polenta cakes
Layering time (onions, polenta, cheese & herbs, repeat until out of stuff):
Polenta Pastacciata
You can now refrigerate it for later or bake it at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Another advantage of making it with neat circles: it will be pretty obvious if you try to sneak some, which will keep you from eating a pan of this stuff all by yourself.

Note: I’m estimating on the time factor without taking into account cooking the polenta – the chickpea version is fast and the corn version can be slow or purchased pre-cooked. If you find that the estimate above is not accurate, I’d love to update this according to your experience – leave a comment to let me know!

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