This lasagna was adapted from a recipe sent to me by my lovely friend, Chloë (check out her blog here, it is not food-related but speaks volumes of her awesomeness). I’ve included her recipe at the bottom because it is delicious, but I’ve unveganized it with cheese, switched the tofu for lentils, amped up the mushrooms, and made some personal changes as Chloë suggested. The polenta replaces the noodles in the dish, which is a delicious trick (my mom is uneasy about this switch). It was delicious, and still is delicious, as this made a lot! Mushrooms come in and out of my favour and this recipe placed them firmly back in my heart. Enjoy!
Mushroom & Eggplant Polenta Lasagna
- 6 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups yellow cornmeal
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggplants sliced length-wise in medium-thin strips (see picture)
- 2.5 cups of pasta sauce (I used a roasted portobello tomato pasta sauce for the full mushroom effect)
- 10 large white mushrooms, sliced
- 3 tsp chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp water
- 4 cups of fresh spinach
- 3 cups cooked lentils (want some meat in your life? 1 lb of browned ground beef can go here, but it is totally unnecessary as the meat isn’t missed in this dish)
- 2 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella (or italian mixed white cheeses)
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
- Make the polenta (REQUIRES SETTING TIME). Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and whisk in the cornmeal in 3 parts, keep whisking to avoid clumping. Turn the heat to low, and, stirring often, cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the butter, and stir until melted. Pour the polenta into a 9 x 13 dish and smooth the top. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably longer (ooooooor buy polenta at any grocery store).
- Cut polenta into strips, vary the thickness according to preference, I left mine pretty thick, about 1/2 inch.
- In a large pan over medium-high heat sauté the eggplant strips in batches of 3 until the eggplant browns, set the strips aside.
- Sauté the mushrooms, spinach, and garlic over medium heat with a bit of olive oil and the 2 tbsp of water until tender.
- In a medium bowl mash the lentils and 1/2 cup of cheese. Add the spinach/lentil mixture to the spinach and mushrooms. Combine well, salt and pepper to taste, and remove from heat.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grab a 9 x 12 inch pan… maybe even the one you made the polenta in… huzzah! Or, as I did, grab two smaller but very deep casserole dishes. Also, cover a cookiesheet in aluminum foil… trust me.
- Spread about 1/4 of the sauce in the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of polenta strips over the sauce, leaving a little space in between them. Drop half of the filling onto the polenta and spread to cover. Cover with half of the eggplant strips. Spread another third of the sauce over it all and sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese. Cover with another layer of polenta, filling, eggplant, and cheese. This should use all of your ingredients… if not you’ve done something terribly wrong.
- Cover the dish tightly with foil, place it on the middle rack and the cookie sheet directly below to catch drips. Bake covered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes (50 minutes total). Let stand a few minutes before serving.
Chloë’s original recipe here:
Vegan Polenta Lasagna with Eggplant, Spinach, Mushrooms, and Tofu
- 2 cups cornmeal / corn grits
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 cups water
- 1 eggplant / aubergine, cut into long thin strips
- 1–3 tsp. chopped garlic
- 1 jar of pasta sauce (tomato sauce)
- Sliced black olives (optional)
- 3–6 white mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tbsp. water
- 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, mostly but not completely thawed
- 1 package / 1 cup tofu (firm or medium firm)
- 2–4 tbsp. nutritional yeast (adds a cheesy taste)
- 1 tsp. salt (optional)
- Make polenta. (This can be done a day or two in advance.) In a large saucepan, bring water and salt to boil over high heat; gradually pour in cornmeal, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes or until smooth and thickened enough to mound on spoon. Transfer to greased 13 x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish, smooth top and set aside to set. (If making ahead, keep covered in fridge until needed.)
- Turn polenta out onto chopping board; with long knife, cut horizontally into strips (as thin as you can cut without it falling apart – about 1/3 of an inch).
- Brown eggplant strips in fry pan with cooking spray or a very little bit of oil.
- Sauté mushrooms and garlic over medium heat in the 2 tbsp. water until tender; cover between stirring to keep them from drying out.
- Place the tofu and thawed spinach in the food processor and process briefly, OR mix them together in a medium-sized bowl with a potato masher or strong fork (or with your hands, but it might be cold because the spinach shouldn’t be entirely thawed). Add the remaining filling ingredients and mix until smooth. Add the mushroom/garlic mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Make layers. Spread about a third of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×12-inch pan (casserole/lasagna dish). Place a layer of polenta strips over the sauce, leaving a little space in between them. Spread half of the tofu mixture on the noodles (I drop it by spoonfuls and then spread it). Add a layer of eggplant strips next. Spread another third of the sauce over it all. Cover with another layer of polenta, tofu mixture, and eggplant. Keep making layers until the pan is nearly full, then pour the remaining sauce over this. Sprinkle sliced black olives on top.
- Cover the dish tightly with foil, and bake for 1 hour (30 minutes with foil covering, then another 30 without the foil). Let stand a few minutes before serving.