Cheesy Polenta Casserole with Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce
2 cups tomato-and-basil pasta sauce (such as Muir Glen)
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (7-ounce) bottle roasted red bell peppers, drained and sliced
1 (16-ounce) tube of polenta, cut into 12 slices
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook 10 minutes, stirring sauce occasionally. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange the polenta slices over the sauce, and spread remaining sauce over polenta. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake casserole at 350° for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
There's big flavor to the sauce - you'd never know it was made with shortcuts like bottled peppers and tomato sauce. The balsamic vinegar is a must. The casserole itself is warm and hearty, but I would bake in individual gratin dishes next time for easier serving and better presentation.
I love recipes like this that are basic and easy so you can personalize. I don't care too much for an overload of red peppers in anything. So, instead, I used 1c. store bought spicy red bell pepper pasta sauce and 1c. store bought tomato basil pasta sauce, 1/2 can chopped artichoke hearts, the olives, balsalmic, and black pepper as given in recipe and let simmer according to directions. Meanwhile, I grilled 2 chicken breasts and cubed. I smashed up the polenta as others suggested and added a layer of the chicken breasts on top of the polenta. Everything else was according to the directions. Next time I'll use a little bit more sauce - maybe 1/2c. more. Wow! This was great!
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