It’s pouring here in Florida, as it does now most days. The storms are heavy and arrogant. They command all of your attention with either the massive claps of thunder, the unrelenting rain or the sky firing up suddenly with rapid bolts of lightening surly to hit somewhere near you. Some days, the electricity goes out as well as the tv and air conditioning. There’s no ignoring this wild angry toddler.
I still love it, though.
The blinds are all closed in my condo these months, trying in vain to keep the temperature down and with this storm right now, it’s just the sound that I’m having to pay attention to. If I try hard enough, I am catapulted back to Northern Virginia. I imagine it would be Autumn when the evenings are crisp and I would want a pot of something warm, creamy and just a bit naughty. Typically that’s pasta, but let’s lighten up on the calories.
While polenta itself has been called Keto-friendly, it does have carbs. This is, therefore, not a low-carb dish but it will not bother your blood sugar or give you that carb-coma pasta dishes are known for. It reads like a lasagna, takes far less time and tastes delicious.
You will need:
- Ground beef (I prefer lean, grass fed but, you pick up your go-to)
- Smoked Gouda cheese (this is a non-negotiable, you’ll thank me later)
- Grated Parmesan
- Fresh / dry basil (optional)
- Polenta (log, please save yourself some time and consider getting one of their flavored ones. We love the tomato basil)
- Marinara (we get any kind that has sausage in it or mushrooms… adds more flavor)
In a pot or skillet, cook your ground beef to its completion, seasoning it to taste. I use the dry basil in this (smoked sea salt and black pepper as well). It’s a huge opportunity to add an additional layer of flavor in a dish that really isn’t complex.
In a casserole dish that you think will also be nice to serve from, go ahead and put your first layer down: marinara. Scoop some of your cooked ground beef and layer that on top of the marinara. Then, take your log of polenta and slice into the bag (some liquid will come out, just be warned). You will need to make discs out of this, like layers of lasagna. I have also done this with the polenta cubed, feel free to do either. Top your layer of polenta with some smoked gouda.
You won’t need too much; I put one piece on each polenta disk however, I’m sure my husband would have preferred more! I guess you can never have too much cheese! To that point, then add some grated parmesan.
Proceed with the same: marinara, ground beef, polenta, gouda, parmesan until you get to the top of the dish as far as it will go topping the final layer with marinara and more cheese.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes
It will be bubbling on the sides, gooey on the top… You will want to plate it right then and there but stop yourself. Sprinkle some cut fresh basil over the top (dried like earlier is fine as well).
Optional: use ground turkey instead of ground beef
This is not a meal I bother with much as far as table settings however, I am extremely particular with what I use to cook with and this was no exception. I am partial to Le Creuset; they just have this wonderful way of heating all over faster than any other pots I have used. I do have some copper that have the best cooking surface, and I will reference those as I use them. Le Creuset is not the most cost efficient cooking tool but, you really only need to buy it once and if you’re wanting something that cooks your food beautifully, please take an interest in their pots.
I just put out a trivet or the blue and white pot holders I got from Williams Sonoma (pictured a bit), drop the pot on them and we serve ourselves. Most important: use a big deep bowl and leave out more grated parmesan.