Make Ahead Pesto Polenta Lasagna


pesto polenta lasagna photo by vsimon

This recipe is from, submitted by Fiffen. It is a super simple do ahead dish. All it requires is layering purchased ingredients, packaging, and baking.

Sometimes you just need a plop and drop dinner. This one is rich and satisfying, a small serving is filling.  Serve with a green salad and vinaigrette on a meatless Monday.

Simplify your life with make ahead meals

Prep the lasagna and freeze some for later. Layer in small ceramic or glass containers with tight fitting lids. Package just one or two portions per container. This is what personal chefs do for clients everyday.

Proper containers are one of the secrets to successful make ahead meals.

Reusable, stackable containers

We use mostly small Pyrex rectangles that hold 3 1/2 cups. They hold 1-2 portions, have tight fitting lids, and stack well. There is an example of these containers on Amazon.

If you have a Wal-Mart nearby, you can buy these small rectangles individually, no need to buy an assortment. Wal-Mart is not my favorite store, but we have not found this size in singles anywhere else.

The lasagna in the photo is made in a CorningWare container. This style makes a nice presentation, oven to plate. Make sure to get ones with tight fitting lids, not the loose glass lids.

Small containers make thawing and heating quicker. Pull your dish from the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge. Meals can be refrigerated for several days. So it isn’t critical if you need to change your dinner plans.

Gluten free ingredients

I use Frieda’s prepared polenta. It comes in many flavors, and several work here. I like  mushroom and onion, basil and garlic, even dried tomato and garlic. I get whatever the store has. Look for it in the refrigerated produce section.

Classico marinara is the brand I by. All flavors are gluten free. I usually buy the roasted garlic flavor because it is lower in calories and sodium than the other flavors. But choose what you like.

Roland Pesto is my purchased pesto of choice. It is smooth, flavorful, and deep green. Classico pesto is leafy and unappealingly brownish. 🙁

Shredded cheese makes prepping this recipe quick. I like Sargento brand 6 Cheese Italian for the flavor. It is a handy mix of mozzarella, smoked provolone, asiago, romano, parmesan and fontina cheeses. Simple shredded mozzarella works too.

Sometimes you will see warnings on the internet that shredded cheese may be dusted with wheat flour to prevent clumping. Most often, it is not. And if it is, wheat must be printed on the label.

Pesto Polenta Lasagna submitted by fiffen

serves 8 metric measures
2 -8 oz tubes of prepared polenta total 500 gm
3 cups of marinara sauce 720 gm
1/2 cup pesto 120 ml
1/2 cup pine nuts 70 gm
2 cups shredded cheese (8 oz) 225 gm

Cut polenta into 1/2” slices.

Put a tablespoon or two of marinara on the bottom of an oven safe baking dish, or several small dishes.

Layer half of the polenta slices, marinara sauce, pesto, pine nuts and cheese.

Repeat layers.

Bake right away, refrigerate or freeze for later.

Bake it

Thaw overnight if previously frozen.

Remove any plastic lids.

If it is in one or two portion containers, bake in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes.

In a 9×13” pan? Cover with foil and bake for about an hour. 

Microwave it

Remove any plastic lids. The manufacturers say the lids are microwave safe, but it makes me uneasy. I don’t like cooked plastic, so I take the lids off.

Microwave one or two portions for 10 to 15 minutes.

I don’t even try to microwave a big pan of lasagna. The pan would keep hitting the sides of my microwave. And the turntable scrapes against the bottom of the pan. That is really annoying.

Enticing Embellishments

Sauté 8-16 ounces of slice mushrooms and add to the layers.

Sauté 16 ounces of fresh spinach and add to the layers.

Do both. 🙂

What would you like to make ahead?

Enter timtana flour giveaway

Don’t miss out on a chance to win whole-grain gluten free timtana flour. Simply leave a comment by January 6, 2009. Three winners will be announced January 7, 2009.

Grilled Mediterranean Salad

We have to wait until the very end of the season for red and yellow peppers from our garden. But what a treat!! We especially love them raw, sliced for a sweet healthy snack.


grilled Mediterranean Veggie Salad photo by vsimon

But we also like them grilled. This Mediterranean Salad is just the dish to use the bounty in our garden. We use tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant here. You can buy all of these from the store of course.

Add some chickpeas and walnuts to make this a hearty vegan dish. Perfect for Meatless Mondays.

Stew transformed into salad!

I adapted a Mediterranean stew so we could enjoy a brilliant sunny day and grill on the deck. No need to be cooped up inside.

So rather than a warm and saucy stew, we had a warm and tangy grilled salad. I switched out cherry tomatoes for canned. Added sherry vinegar for a punch of flavor. And walnuts for crunch.

Sherry vinegar deserves wider use and is perfect here. But you can use other vinegars, like apple cider or balsamic.

Do not use malt vinegar or black rice vinegar. There are not gluten free. 

Grilled Mediterranean Salad

serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a side

6 skinny eggplants, large dice

3 bell peppers, chopped (1 each green, yellow and red)

1 onion, chopped

1 pound cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon oil

1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained

2/3 cup kalamata olives, halved

1/3 cup sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced

¼ cup chopped walnuts

Chives for garnish, optional

Heat grill to high.

Line a rimmed sheet pan with nonstick foil.

Put diced veggies (eggplant, peppers, onion) and cherry tomatoes on prepared pan. Toss with oil.

Grill over medium heat for about 20 minutes. You want to mostly leave the veggies alone, to caramelize. Stir only occasionally.

Watch the grill though. Some grills are very hot, and the veggies will burn quickly. If your grill is like this, stir frequently and cook for less time. You do not want veggie charcoal.

When veggies are tender and browned in places, put into a large bowl. Toss with chickpeas, kalamata olives, sherry vinegar, and rosemary.

Put salad on a serving platter and top with walnuts and chives. Or fresh rosemary sprigs if you have them. Enjoy!


veggies ready to grill photo by vsimon