Margherita Baked Polenta Recipe (2024)

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Margherita Baked Polenta Recipe: AnEasy Polenta Recipelayered withmarinara sauce, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese, all on a comfortingPesto Polentabase!

Margherita Baked Polenta Recipe (1)

What is Polenta?

There’s nothing quite like polenta to satisfy a comfort food craving.

Polenta is theItalian version ofgrits, made from coarsely ground corn. It’s cozy and inviting, with a soft rustic texture.

While grits are normally made with white corn, and polenta is typically made from yellow corn, the two are interchangeable.

Polenta can be cooked on the stovetop andservedlooselike grits. Or it can be poured into a baking dish and baked into afirmer consistencythat makes amarvelous platform for toppings.

If you make this coarse-ground cornmeal properly, you will get the best sweet corn flavor.

Although I love polenta in all forms, I’m especially fond of baked polenta. It serves as a wonderful carb-y base for all sorts ofstacked appetizers, breakfast options, and baked casserole dishes, like today’s recipe,Margherita Baked Polenta.

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Margherita Baked Polenta Recipe

If you were to ask me for my go-to polenta recipe, this simple homey Italian-style polenta dish is what I would give you.

This baked polenta has the appeal of lasagna, or other Italian-baked pasta recipes. Yet because it’s made with ground corn instead of pasta, it is completelygluten-free!

The thick layer of polenta on the bottom is packed with rich herbaceous flavor frombasil pesto, andsmoked gouda cheese.

It has a soft decadent texture that holds its shape, yet is easy for a fork to sink into.

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Our Easy Baked Polenta Recipe is perfect for family gatherings and parties because it is:

  • Unique
  • A huge crowd-pleaser
  • Simple to assemble ahead of time
  • Vegetarian
  • And wheat-free!
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Margherita Style?

The termMargheritadoes not refer to the margarita co*cktail, but to an Italian combination of ingredients thatresembles the Italian flag. Red is represented bytomatoes, green bybasil, and white bymozzarella cheese.

This flavor combination is said to be named after the queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, who visited Naples in the late 1800s.

This combination is most often found on Pizza Margherita (since tomato, basil, and mozzarella were the queen’s favorite pizza toppings) but can be used in all sorts of Italian-inspired dishes.

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A Polenta Recipe Fit For Royalty

Today we’re using the Margherita colors and flavors in this simple baked polenta recipe.

The baked polenta acts as a tender pillow that supports the other flavors.

It gets its devilish texture from the addition of gouda cheese, and the fact that it’s technically cooked three times!

First, the polenta is boiled. Then it is bakeddry. Then it is topped with marinara, basil, and fresh mozzarella slices, and baked again.

Don’t worry… The whole process takes less than an hour.

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Pesto Polenta?

Although you can make polenta withjustground corn, water, and salt… Adding basil pesto, vegetable broth, and gouda cheese gives this polenta recipe anabundance of flavor.

If you are trying to make avegan version, you can leave out the gouda, and either omit the mozzarella on top, or swap it with a vegan cheese substitute.

However, it’s important to mention that many jarred pestos do have parmesan cheese in them. So make sure to read the label when selecting one.

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What Ingredients You Will Need

  • 1 3/4 cups dried polenta (course yellow grits)
  • 7 cups vegetable broth, or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto
  • 6 ounce smoked gouda, shredded
  • 24 ounce marinara sauce (jarred or homemade)
  • 20 large fresh basil leaves
  • 2 large fresh mozzarella balls (16 oz total)
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How To Make Polenta

Basic polenta is very simple to make…

  1. Boilwater or broth.
  2. Whiskthe polenta into the water so it doesn’t clump.
  3. Simmerthe polenta until the grains are soft and the consistency is thick.
  4. Seasonthe polenta with salt and pepper.
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How To Bake Polenta From Scratch

Although to can buy pre-cooked polenta in logs that you slice and bake, making it from scratch is quick and easy.

  1. Start by boiling the polenta until it is soft and thick.
  2. Then pour the polenta into a baking dish and spread it out in an even layer.
  3. Bake the polenta until it is firm and puffy.

Then you can either cut and serve the polenta as-is, or top it with zesty ingredients like we did!

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Margarita-Style Polenta Step-by-Step Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Set out a 9X13-inch baking dish and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Then set a large 5-6 quart sauce pot on the stovetop over medium-heat heat.

Pour the vegetable broth (or water) into the sauce pot. Once boiling, whisk in the polenta and salt. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so the polenta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Once the polenta is very thick and the grains feel soft, turn off the heat. Stir in the pesto and smoked gouda. Then pour the polenta into the baking dish before it starts to firm. Smooth the polenta in an even layer.

Bake the polenta for 25 minutes, uncovered. Meanwhile, slice the mozzarella balls into 12 rounds. *After 25 minutes, if the polenta doesn’t seem set in the middle, bake an additional 10 minutes before you proceed. It needs to be firm before the marinara goes over the top.

Pour the sauce over the top of the baked polenta and smooth into an even layer. Arrange 12 large fresh basil leaves over the marinara, 3 across and 4 down. Then cover the basil leaves with 12 mozzarella slices. Sprinkle ground black pepper over the top, if desired.

Bake again, for 10-15, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Let the polenta rest for 5 minutes, before cutting and serving.

Get the Full (Printable) Margherita Baked Polenta Recipe Below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Goes with Baked Polenta?

Our Italian Baked Polenta can be served as avegetarian main dish, with a salad or roasted vegetable on the side.

Or you can serve it as a side dish withItalian Meatballs,Roasted Chicken, orSteak Florentine.

How Long Does This Dish Last?

You can store the leftovers of this dish in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Can I Switch The Shredded Cheese?

If you would rather not use gouda, you can also use freshly shredded parmigiano-reggiano cheese or another soft white cheese that is your favorite.

More Italian Recipes You Will Love

Check the printable recipe below for the nutrition information including calories, carbohydrates, protein, sodium, and potassium percentages.

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Print Recipe

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Margherita Baked Polenta Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes minutes

Total Time: 1 hour hour

Margherita Baked Polenta Recipe: An Easy Polenta Recipe layered with marinara sauce, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese, all on a comforting Pesto Polenta base!

Servings: 12

Ingredients

US CustomaryMetric

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Set out a 9X13 inch baking dish and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Then set a large 5-6 quart saucepot on the stovetop over medium-heat heat.

  • Pour the vegetable broth (or water) in the saucepot. Once boiling, whisk in the polenta and salt. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so the polenta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot.

  • Once the polenta is very thick and the grains feel soft, turn off the heat. Stir in the pesto and smoked gouda. Then pour the polenta into the baking dish before it starts to firm. Smooth the polenta in an even layer.

  • Bake the polenta for 25 minutes, uncovered. Meanwhile, slice the mozzarella balls into 12 rounds. *After 25 minutes, if the polenta doesn't seem set in the middle, bake an additional 10 minutes before you proceed. It needs to be firm before the marinara goes over the top.

  • Pour the marinara over the top of the baked polenta and smooth into an even layer. Arrange 12 large fresh basil leaves over the marinara, 3 across and 4 down. Then cover the basil leaves with 12 mozzarella slices. Sprinkle ground black pepper over the top, if desired.

  • Bake again, for 10-15, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Let the polenta rest for 5 minutes, before cutting and serving.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1square, Calories: 297kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 1457mg, Potassium: 265mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1096IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 310mg, Iron: 1mg

Course: Main

Cuisine: Italian

Author: Sommer Collier

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Margherita Baked Polenta Recipe (2024)
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