Polenta al Forno with Spinach and Ricotta.

Polenta1

Even though it’s getting close to the end of winter, the end of the cold, of the short days, longs coats, and snow-covered ground, I’m nowhere near done with winter comfort food. Seasonally appropriate meals? Not to be found here.

Polenta2

Long into summer you’ll find soups and more than likely there’ll be something cheesy and starchy thrown up on the site in June. Maybe even with a poached egg and bacon. Who knows. This blog knows no rules when it comes to limiting your comfort to the cooler months of the year. Blame it on my California upbringing, where if you were waiting for 40 degree weather to break out the mac ‘n’ cheese and mash potatoes, they’d rarely, if ever, make an appearance on the dinner table. And so, check back here around May, when it’s heading up to warm, sunny, and clear blue skies.

You’ll find something along the lines of this polenta and spinach bake. Because even though a three-cheese spinach filling in a creamy polenta bake is exactly what you need in February, there’s no need to limit the polenta love to just one season. Not only would that be disrespectful to all those hard-working polenta mills, but it would complete disregard the wants and needs of my stomach. Sad and empty, missing all the satisfaction of a scoop of hot, baked polenta puffed up the with the help of ricotta, cheddar, and parmesan. Let’s be honest, no one should have to go without polenta. Especially when the possibilities are an endless variety of baked, soft, grilled, topped with all sort of sauces and stews. Just think of the options. More than a year’s worth of recipes.

Polenta al Forno with Spinach and Ricotta
Adapted from the New York Times

1 ½ dry polenta
5 ½ cup chicken stock, water, or a mixture of both
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

½ tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, drained
½ teaspoon paprika
1 cup whole milk ricotta
4 oz. grated sharp white cheddar
¼ cup grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. In a large soup pot, combine the dry polenta and liquid over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a whisk to avoid lumps. When the polenta come to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 30-40 minutes. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in the butter until combined. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Once cooked, remove the polenta from heat.

2. While the polenta is cooking, preheat oven to 350°F. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté until warm, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly for 15 minutes. Stir in paprika, ricotta, cheddar, and Parmesan until combined, reserving a tablespoon each of cheddar and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. In a large pie dish, pour half the polenta. Spread the filling over the polenta layer evenly, and then top with the remaining polenta. Smooth the top of the polenta. Sprinkle with reserved cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool 15-20 minutes before serving.

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3 thoughts on “Polenta al Forno with Spinach and Ricotta.

  1. Sara

    This looks so fantastic – I love polenta, such a great comfort food! And that filling looks totally delicious. Awesome recipe! 🙂

  2. Krystal

    This is a great alteration of the recipe I saw in the NYT a few weeks back. Like the idea of using cheddar instead of fontina. Good work

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