Bring the water to a rapid boil. Gradually add the cornmeal in a thin stream, stirring rapidly. While continuing to stir, add the butter, salt, and pepper. Simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. Stir often, especially at the bottom of the pot, to avoid sticking. When the polenta has thickened, remove it from the heat and stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan. Pour the polenta into a well-buttered 12-inch casserole dish and let it cool for several minutes. Then refrigerate it until you are ready to assemble the casserole.
2 cups cornmeal
6 cups water
1/4 cup butter
salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup parmesan cheese (2 ounces), freshly grated
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 cups onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/3 cup fresh basil (3 tablespoons dried)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
3 cups eggplant, cubed
1 green pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups zucchini, cubed
1 1/2 cups drained canned tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (1 1/2 ounces), freshly grated
2 cups mozzarella cheese (12 ounces), grated
Sauté the garlic and onions in oil until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, celery, herbs, and spices, and continue to cook on medium heat for several minutes. When the carrots are bright in color, add the eggplant and continue to sauté for 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Add the peppers and zucchini and cook until tender. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and red wine, if desired and simmer 5 minutes longer. Remove the vegetables from the heat and stir in the 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Take the chilled polenta from the refrigerator and spoon on the vegetable sauce. Top with the grated mozzarella. Bake uncovered at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the cheese begins to brown at the edges. Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving .
If you have too little time to bake the casserole, try serving the vegetables over hot polenta topped with the mozzarella. We prefer the casserole, but when time is of the essence, it pays to be flexible.
Serve with a crisp green salad.
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