Milanese Vegetarian Casserole with Polenta

This dish is what I would call hearty vegetarian. Not low-fat vegetarian due to the cheese but delicious none the less. This dish is a prime example of how flavorful and exciting vegetarian cooking can be. I promise you, you will not miss the meat in this one. This recipe originated from New Recipes From Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook. If you continue to follow my blog you will start to see certain patterns. One of these patterns will be the influence of Moosewood restaurants cookbooks on my vegetarian cooking. Even if you choose to change their recipes to your liking, you wont be able to argue with their flavor combinations. These are by far some of the most talented vegetarian chef’s in the world. As a matter of fact, they were vegetarian before being vegetarian was cool. Their restaurant goes back to the sixties when the food pyramid was meat, meat, meat, and more meat. They also were nominated one of the top thirteen most influential restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit magazine. Ok, so lets get started.

Cooks Note : This recipe may seem like a lot of work but it actually comes together very easy. Don’t be intimidated by making your own polenta. It’s not only easy, it’s a great way to use up that old yellow cornmeal in the back of your cupboard. Make this on a day off when you have more time and dazzle your family. I found the original recipe was too much polenta and cheese. The following directions have been modified a bit from the original recipe.

Ingredients for the polenta

2 cups of yellow cornmeal

6 cups of water

1/4 cup of butter chunked

salt and pepper to taste

2 ounces fresh grated parmesan cheese


Bring water to a boil, slowly add cornmeal stirring constantly. Add butter, salt and pepper and continue to stir. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir constantly for fifteen minutes or so. Stir in cheese. Spread out in a well buttered baking dish and place in a cool area or refrigerator.

Ingredients for the Milanese

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 garlic cloves minced or pressed

4 cups of diced onions

2 carrots peeled and diced

3 stalks celery peeled and diced

1/3 cup fresh chopped basil or 3 TBSP dried

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

black pepper to taste

3 cups cubed eggplant (peeled only if skin is bitter)

1 green pepper chopped

1 zucchini (about 1 1/2 cups)

1  15oz can drained petite diced tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

8 ounces shredded mozzarella

Directions for Milanese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute the onions until translucent. Add garlic and saute for a minute. Add carrots, celery, herbs and the spices and cook for about five minutes. Add the eggplant and cook for another 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and zucchini and cook until soft. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and stir well to coat. Continue cooking for a few more minutes. Turn off flame and stir in cheese. Top mixture evenly with polenta mixture (to your liking, you probably wont use it all). Top with mozzarella. Bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes until the cheese is browned. Let rest for 15 minutes or so before serving.     



4 responses to this post.

  1. Wow, this does look hearty and tasty. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Ken this looks fantastic.
    Have you ever used nutritional yeast instead of cheese?


    • Funny you mention nutritional yeast. I just found a container in my cupboard and couldn’t remember why I bought it. I tasted a bit on my hand and thought it kinda tasted like a mild chicken flavor. Didn’t realize it was a cheese substitute, Ken


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