In The Bender Kitchen: Jenn Press Arata cooks up lasagna-style polenta bake with engagement bruschetta

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Many people are cooking from the heart today. Food Blogger Jenn Press Arata is making a tasty lasagna with a twist.

Lasagna-style Polenta Bake

Ingredients:

1 roll of plain Polenta
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
About 5 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 bag broccoli florets, steamed
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (adjust per your liking)
4 Tablespoons jarred minced garlic (or 8 fresh cloves)
Non-stick cooking spray
Salt and pepper
1 pinch of sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 and coat 9×9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Slice Polenta into ½ inch rounds and season with salt and pepper.
Pour olive oil into a pan, enough to coat the bottom, (about twice around) and add 1 tablespoon of minced garlic.
Add Polenta once garlic begins to brown, and shallow fry until it turns golden in color.
Flip to other side and do the same.
Transfer Polenta onto a paper towel coated plate to soak up access oil. Continue frying the rest of the slices.
In a large skillet, pour about three turns of olive oil into a pan, and add 3 tablespoons of minced garlic. (I use fresh when I have it in the house.)
Cook over medium-high heat.
Once it browns, add the entire can of crushed tomatoes.
Once tomatoes come to a boil, add dried oregano, dried basil and garlic powder.
Crush the herbs between your fingers when adding to the pan to freshen them up.
Add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and sugar and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Mix 1 cup ricotta with 6 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan.
Cover bottom of baking dish with about 1 cup of sauce.
Add a layer of Polenta.
Top each Polenta round with the cheese mixture, leaving half for the next layer.
Top with 2 cups of broccoli.
Repeat process adding another cup of sauce, the remaining Polenta,the rest of the cheese mixture, the remaining broccoli, and top with the rest of the tomato sauce.
Smooth it with a spatula for an even coat.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes.
Sprinkled Parmesan, if desired.

Engagement Bruschetta

Ingredients:

1 Parisian baguette, sliced
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
2 cloves of garlic
About 6 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
About 4 Tablespoons olive oil plus some for bread
Handful of grated parmesan cheese
1 package Kraft fancy shredded mozzarella cheese
A few leaves of fresh basil, chiffonaded
A few shakes of Italian seasoning
Generous amount of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cover a cookie sheet with foil.
Slice baguette into 1/2 inch pieces or ask your grocer to prep it for you.
Layer slices onto baking sheet.
Cut garlic cloves in half, and rub cut side onto each slice of bread.
Brush the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.
Slice washed tomatoes in half and pour them into a mixing bowl.
Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper and Parmesan.
Mix well.
For best results, allow the mixture to marinate ahead of time in the fridge.
Spoon tomato mixture on top of cooled slices of bread.
Top with fancy mozzarella and garnish with fresh basil.
Go with your significant other if they ask you to take a walk before you get to taste some.

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