Up North, they call it “polenta”. Here in the South it’s just grits. Any way you name it, grits are a fun substitute for lasagna noodles in this meatless main dish.
3 cups water
1 cup 1% low fat milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup quick-cooking grits
2 Tbs butter
4 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms , rinsed
1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
12 oz crimini mushroom caps, cleaned and chopped
8 oz shitake mushroom caps, cleaned and chopped
8 oz white button mushroom caps, cleaned and chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
3 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
1 extra large egg
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1. Early in the day, prepare the grits. Cut three 9″ piece of parchment from a 15″ roll. Mist a 9×13″ baking dish with non-stick spray. Smooth one sheet of the parchment into the dish with the long sides extending up the sides of the dish and mist again. Set the other two pieces of parchment aside.
2. In a large sauce pan, combine the water, milk, and salt and bring to a boil.
3. Slowly whisk in the grits and continue whisking until the grits return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover, stirring frequently.
4. When the grits have thickened, about 5 minutes, turn off heat. Stir in the butter and cayenne, then the cheese.
5. Pour one third of the grits into the prepared 9×13 baking dish and smooth into an even layer. Mist one of the reserved parchment sheets with non-stick spray and gently smooth, sprayed side down, over the grits in the baking dish, then mist the top. Repeat with the remaining grits and parchment to create three layers of grits divided by parchment. Chill until firm.
6. In a small bowl, combine the porcini mushrooms and hot water. Let stand 30 minutes, then drain the mushrooms in a fine sieve that has been lined with a coffee filter or cheese cloth and set over a small bowl. Reserve the liquid and chop the mushrooms.
7. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tsp of olive oil and saute the onion until transparent. Add all the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are softened and the liquid is nearly gone. Sprinkle with salt.
8. In a medium saucepan, heat another tsp of olive oil and add the tomato paste. Cook and stir one minute to lightly toast the tomato paste. Stir in the reserved porcini liquid, rosemary, oregano, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
9. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, and thyme. Set aside.
10. Preheat the oven to 375°.
11. To assemble, carefully remove the layers of chilled grits from the baking dish. Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish and position one sheet of grits over the sauce, discarding the parchment paper.. Top with half of the mushroom mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, and half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat the layers with another sheet of grits, rhe remaining mushroom mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, and the remaining ricotta. Top with the last sheet of grits and remaining tomato sauce.
12. Cover and bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Remove the lasagna from the oven, uncover, and sprinkle on the last 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting to serve.
Serving size: 1/8 of a recipe (19.5 ounces).