Dinner for 4 Under $5: Polenta Pie

For home cooked meals, I have a few criteria I look for before I adding it into my regular repertoire. It needs to be first and foremost delicious, but also inexpensive, easy to make, and create as few dirty dishes as possible. I hate washing dishes with a passion. Polenta pie, which uses only one pot from stovetop to oven, is everything I look for in a great meal. It's a spin on lasagna with alternating layers of creamy polenta and marinara and can easily to customize to your tastes by adding additional ingredients to the layers.  I like mine to have a Mediterranean flavor. The best part is that it takes less than fifteen minutes to prep and costs under $5 for 4 generous servings.

Polenta Pie

Serves 4

Basic Recipe
1 cup Corn Meal
2 cups Broth
1 cup Water
1 cup Marinara sauce
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 Tbsp Garlic powder
1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 cup Frozen spinach, thawed
1 Roasted red pepper, diced
1/3 cup Kalmata olives, pitted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a cast iron pot or other oven safe cookware, bring the broth to a boil over medium heat. In a separate bowl, stir together the water and cornmeal. Slowly pour the mixture into the boiling broth while stirring to prevent lumping. Continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove half of the polenta from the pot. On top of the polenta remaining in the pot, add 2/3 cup of marinara or your favorite pasta sauce. If you are adding additional layers of flavor, like the Mediterranean version, add those ingredients in now. Spread the remaining polenta over the sauce. Top with the remaining sauce as well as the olive oil and spices. Bake until the sauce begins to bubble, approximately 15 minutes. Serve and be prepared to enjoy.

The pie in progress

The finished product studded with salty olives, smoky roasted red peppers, and enough spinach to keep you Popeye strong, even though you feel like you're eating something decadent and rich. 

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