Cheesy Polenta Stacks with Tomato Sauce
Gayle McLeod | July 10, 2016
Soft slices of fresh mozzarella sandwiched between crisp rounds of golden polenta and topped with a rustic, flavourful tomato sauce. This dish was inspired by a good friend of mine who happens to be a solid fan of this sauce. She cleverly added prosciutto then spooned it onto rounds of firm polenta as an appetizer, and I couldn't wait to try it myself. While I planned to make something similar, I spied some fresh mozzarella standing by, and well... let's just say one thing led to another. More of a serving idea than a recipe, this dish is what you make it – whether appetizer-sized single slices or hearty, towering stacks – I promise it will be easy and delicious either way.
Makes 4 large or 8 small stacks
1 18oz roll of prepared polenta, cut into 16 rounds (approximately the width of a pencil)
olive oil for brushing the polenta
salt & pepper to taste
340g package of fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4" thick slices
1 500 ml container of Fresh Tomato & Basil Sauce, warmed
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
chopped fresh Italian parsley or basil
Preheat oven (or BBQ) to around 400 degrees.
Gently warm the sauce in a small saucepan, but be careful not to boil or reduce.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, brush both sides of the polenta slices with olive oil and lightly season with salt & pepper. Pan-fry the polenta until both sides are crisped up - they should look a touch more golden and form a bit of a crust.
Once all the polenta is done, assemble the stacks by alternating the polenta and the mozzarella into towers up to 4 polenta slices high. You may need to use one or two toothpicks to keep the stacks from sliding apart once the cheese melts.
Arrange the assembled stacks in a large baking dish, or you could use the same skillet if you have room. Spoon the tomato sauce over each stack then bake for just a few minutes to melt the cheese. If you worked fast and your polenta was still really warm, this won't take long.
Top with a smattering of freshly grated parmesan and chopped herbs.
Note: This makes a hearty and filling option for a meatless plate, or serve smaller stacks as a side with grilled meats and a salad. If you'd like to make the stack nice and tidy for entertaining, gently heat the assembled stacks without the sauce then spoon the warm sauce over once the stack is plated. Top with a little mound of grated parmesan and serve.