Prepare roasted garlic, pesto and ragu sauce in advance
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut HEAVY-DUTY foil (or 2 sheets of regular foil) into 12” squares, enough for 1 per garlic bulb. Horizontally cut each garlic bulb off at the top, exposing just the tips of the cloves. Drizzle olive oil over each bulb. Sprinkle each with a pinch of salt & fresh ground pepper. Add a sprig of thyme and/or oregano and wrap each clove with the foil. Place in a small, 1-2” rimmed pan and bake about 40 minutes. Check for softness. The clove, when squeezed, spews out a rich, creamy, sweet garlic flavor.
1-1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, loosely packed 2 T. pine nuts
1/2 c. fresh italian parsley, minced about 1/2 c. good olive oil
2 T. fresh oregano, minced salt
2 cloves of garlic fresh ground pepper
2 T. walnuts, chopped 1/2 c. parmesan & asiago cheeses, freshly grated
- Combine all ingredients, but cheeses in a food processor and puree until smooth, but you can still see the leaves. Scrape out and into a bowl. Stir in the cheeses. (You can freeze the extra pesto in ice cube tray for more winter use.
This is how to prepare “Odori,” the aromatic Italian trinity with herbs:
finely chop 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic & a handful of parsley. Saute in 2 T. olive oil ‘til golden
1# ground beef 1-2 c. white or Chianti wine
!# ground pork 2 T. tomato paste
4 Italian Sausages up to 64 ou. diced Italian style tomatoes
salt, pepper and dried thyme to taste
- Prepare the “odori” in a heavy pot with a lid. Add the ground beef, pork, and sausages until browned. Add salt, pepper, thyme and a cup of wine. After the wine has evaporated, add the tomato paste and diced tomatos. Cover and simmer on VERY low heat for 3 hours, stirring now and then.
NOW THAT ALL THAT IS PREPARED, YOU ARE READY TO ASSEMBLE THE POLENTA LASAGNA
BEGIN POLENTA LASAGNA RECIPE:
3-4 T. olive oil
approximately 1# polenta (a.k.a. “corn mush” next to “Pillsbury Dinner Rolls in the refrigerated cases)
2 T. fresh thyme, minced 1/2 c. roasted garlic cloves or more
2 T. fresh basil, minced 1 c. pesto
2 T. fresh parsley, minced 4 medium Roma tomatoes, sliced
1# mozzarella, sliced into 16 slices 3 c. Ragu
1/2 c. kalamata olives, pitted & halved
- Heat oil on medium heat in a large, heavy pan. Slice polenta to about 1/4” thick and brown both sides in pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13” pan and place a layer of lightly browned polenta on bottom. Add half the herbs and mozzarella slices. Evenly distribute the olives & roasted garlic cloves that have been “squirted” out of their “husks.” Layer the remaining polenta slices & herbs and spread with pesto. Top with what’s left of the mozzarella slices and sliced tomatoes.
- Bake for 30 minutes to heat throughout. Remove from the oven and cut into squares. For an elegant presentation, serve each square on a plate covered with a 1/2 c. of heated Ragu Sauce.