Brazil is home of the largest population of full or partial Italian descent. In Espirito Santo (my birth place), that amounts to 70% of the population! With Italian ancestry myself, I grew up eating a lot of Italian food. One of my favorites - the one that screams "comfort" to me - is polenta. I am absolutely in love with it! Whenever I visit Brazil I make my mom and aunts cook polenta for me all the time!!
Although I make polenta from scratch often, I like to keep a package of pre-made polenta in my fridge for those days when I am craving a little taste of home, but don't have much time to get lunch or dinner ready. It can't get much easier than this recipe!!
If you are a polenta lover like me, you will enjoy the convenience and great flavors of this dish! Simply irresistible:
Here is what you need for each polenta stack:
3 slices (3/4 of an inch thick) of pre-made polenta
2 slices (3/4 of an inch thick) of fresh mozzarella
your favorite store bought marinara sauce (approximately 6 tbsp).
fresh Basil (approximately 3 tablespoons)
1/2 tablespoon of Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1- Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2- Place the slices of polenta in a microwave oven and heat them (don't let the slices get too hot, just warm them up).
3- Grease the bottom of an oven proof pan with butter. Put about 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on that baking pan. Place a slice of polenta over the sauce, a slice of mozzarella over the polenta, top it with more marinara sauce and fresh basil. Now start the layers all over again. The last layer should be polenta. Top it with Parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
4- Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until all the cheese is melted.
5- Serve hot, topped with the remaining olive oil, freshly ground pepper, and extra fresh basil.
Grease a baking dish with butter:
Work on the layers: marinara, polenta, cheese, basil, marinara, polenta, cheese, basil, marinara, polenta, Parmesan cheese:
Then drizzle it all with a little bit of olive oil and bring into the oven for about 15 minutes or until all the cheese is melted:
Serve it with an extra drizzle of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and fresh basil: