Being kind of a bread monster myself, I have to really check myself when my gluten-free friends come over. Rice, potatoes, quinoa- there are a variety of options out there these days, but what if we’re all really craving pasta? Oooey, gooey, baked, cheesy pasta?
I know there are some gluten free pastas out there that aren’t bad but by and large my Celiac friends tell me they are… *ahem* rubbish (not the actual words they used, but I don’t know how many of you will be offended by a Thursday morning F bomb in your food reading). Worst of all, I’m told they mush up fast, so making a gluten-free pasta casserole is pretty much a no-go.
For many years, I was pretty against polenta. I don’t know why. My parents would serve up soft polenta, all covered in cheese and wild mushrooms: NO. (are you kidding me, young Finn? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?) Then they moved on to firm polenta, like the one in this dish… all covered in tomato sauce and fresh herbs. Look, it’s like a little lasagna, doesn’t that look goooood? NO.
So, young Finn was a bit of a turd I guess, but at least I grew out of it (mostly?). By the time I was in my early twenties, we were clearing out my grandmother’s pantry and I was offered a log of polenta. I didn’t want it but… a starving student will make lots of exceptions. I took it home and- one stormy night when I had nothing but a tin of tomato sauce and some expired milk in my fridge- I finally cooked it up.
And loved it.
Silly, silly young Finn. Polenta is AWESOME.
Fortunately, I’m told not all kids hate polenta. In fact, as far as I know most kids love it. My young cousin, Aleksander, eats it for breakfast the way some kids eat oatmeal!
Best of all, the gluten-free and gluten-loving adults I served this strata to the other night loved it. They didn’t even leave me leftovers for my lunch the next day. But I guess that’s the best kind of compliment, isn’t it?
|Eggplant Polenta Strata with Garlicky Tomato Sauce & Cave Aged Gruyère|| |
- 2 eggplants, sliced into rounds
- Olive oil
- 1 log pre-cooked polenta
- 2 cups Gruyère, grated
- 1 large tin diced tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- Freshly ground pepper
- Fresh basil, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Slice eggplants horizontally into rounds, brush with olive oil and lay in a single layer across two baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, until the tops of the eggplants start to brown slightly. Reduce oven heat to 375.
- In a large pan, sauté garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent. Add tin of diced tomatoes, thyme and oregano and simmer on medium high heat until slightly reduced.
- Slice log of polenta into ¼ inch rounds.
- In a large casserole dish, lay down a layer of polenta slices then top with a layer of baked eggplant slices. Spoon a quarter of your tomato mixture over top and sprinkle a quarter of your grated Gruyère over that. Repeat layering until all the polenta and eggplant are gone, reserving some tomato mixture for the top. Finish with a healthy grating of Gruyère.
- Bake for 25 minutes at 375 until the cheese starts to bubble and brown slightly. Remove from oven and garnish with a healthy handful of fresh basil.