Baked Polenta with Tomato and Cheese
Polenta is made from cornmeal and is a staple food of northern Italy. It can be served as a soft, thick puree, or, as in this recipe, it can be left to set in a baking dish and then sliced. All manner of toppings can be added to baked polenta, so you can vary the ingredients according to availability. Fontina is a mild Italian cheese that is soft, yet firm enough to slice. If wished, you can substitute another soft cheese, such as Italian Ricotta Mozzarella. You will need a liquidiser for this recipe.
- 10 oz polenta
- 8 thin slices ham or prosciutto
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 3/4 lb tinned whole tomatoes.
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 oz butter
- 6 oz Fontina or other mild soft cheese
- 4 oz goat or blue cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh mixed herbs
- Stir the polenta into a large pan of salted boiling water. Cook over a moderate heat, stirring continually for 5 minutes, then frequently for a further 35 minutes, until the polenta becomes very thick.
- Meanwhile, cut the ham slices into strips, and finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion, garlic, bay leaf, chopped parsley and basil over a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon. Increase the heat and cook for 15 minutes, until the mixture is soft.
- Remove the bay leaf and blend the mixture in a liquidiser until smooth. Add the sugar and season to taste. Return to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, until quite thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Turn the cooked polenta into a buttered baking tray and leave to cool for 30 minutes, until firm, then turn out and cut into slices. Butter a gratin or baking dish, and spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the bottom. Place the polenta slices in the dish in a single layer.
- Mix the ham strips with a small amount of the tomato sauce and spread over the polenta. Slice the Fontina and place the slices over the meat, then spread over the remaining sauce.
- Break the goat or blue cheese into small pieces and sprinkle over the top, adding a little more black pepper. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, then remove and sprinkle with the fresh mixed herbs. Serve immediately.
Oven : Preheat to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6).
Calories: 801 kcal
Carbohydrates: 76 g
Protein: 39 g
Saturated Fat: 19 g
Trans Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 113 mg
Sodium: 1692 mg
Potassium: 1009 mg
Fiber: 6 g
Sugar: 12 g
Vitamin A: 1637 IU
Vitamin C: 26 mg
Calcium: 473 mg
Iron: 4 mg