So the Oscars are long over (Moonlight! That was a crazy awards show debacle, right?) and I didn’t manage to finish all my Oscar Noms posts before the awards show aired, but that’s ok, because I still have a few to share with you. We survived a blizzard here in NYC this past week, and when I say we survived, I mean I survived a day home with two stir-crazy kids running around, destroying our apartment. It is still freezing outside, so this seemed as good a time as any to make this polenta lasagna I’d been eyeing for a while. I made it in honor of La La Land, the film that almost took home the award for Best Picture. I thought for a while about making a raw food lasagna for La La Land, since that seemed more “Hollywood-y” and keeping with the theme of the film, but as I mentioned it’s still freezing here and I was craving something warm and comforting. And besides, it’s super cheesy, which I think also might be fitting for La La Land?
I was inspired by this recipe I saw online. It’s an unusual kind of lasagna, with polenta slices instead of noodles, and a cheesy, creamy sauce instead of a typical tomato sauce. The filling is a combo of mushrooms and seitan, although I used sliced up Tofurky Italian sausage, which of course is already seasoned and added extra flavor. It may look like several steps, but it actually comes together quite easily. My husband, who usually doesn’t like creamy/cheesy sauces (crazy, I know) loved this! He ate seconds and even took leftovers to work the next day for lunch. It was delicious served with a side of grilled asparagus with a squeeze of lemon.
Vegan Cheesy Polenta Lasagna with Mushrooms and Italian Sausage
makes 6 to 8 servings
For cheesy sauce:
4 Tbsp. vegan butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups plain unsweetened almond or soy milk
2 cups vegan mozzarella shreds (I used Daiya brand), divided
Scant 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp. salt
For mushroom-sausage filling:
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
7 ounces (2 links) vegan Italian sausage, thinly sliced (I used Tofurky brand)
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
3 tablespoons water
2 (16-to 18-ounce) logs ready-made plain polenta
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in upper third. Lightly butter or spray a 2-to 2 1/2-quart shallow baking dish.
Make cheesy sauce:
Melt vegan butter in a 2-to 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth, then cook roux, whisking frequently, until pale golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly add milk to roux in 2 batches, whisking constantly until very smooth. Bring to a boil, whisking, then cook, whisking, 30 seconds. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 1/2 cups vegan mozzarella shreds, nutmeg, and salt. Cover and set aside, whisking occasionally.
Make mushroom-sausage filling:
Cook garlic in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, until beginning to turn pale golden. Stir in mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are softened, about 3 minutes. Add vegan sausage slices and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms and sausage are slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add water and cook briefly, scraping up any brown bits.
Assemble and bake lasagna:
Spread 1/2 cup cheesy sauce in bottom of baking dish.
Slice 1 log of polenta into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and arrange enough rounds to cover bottom of dish, overlapping slightly. Spoon half of filling evenly over polenta, then spread with half of remaining cheesy sauce (about 1 cup). Slice enough rounds from second log to form a second layer. Cover with remaining filling, then cheese sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella shreds and bake until top is just bubbling and slightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.