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Some time ago I stumbled upon a blog called Fatfree Vegan Kitchen – no idea how, because I’m not vegan and not really into fat-free cooking, either. But there was a really interesting recipe there: polenta lasagne with portobello mushrooms and kale. Kale is said to be a really healthy vegetable, but the only recipe I knew how to make with it was stamppot. Lasagna with kale sounded very tasty. Since the original was a vegan recipe, it included a “cheese sauce” made with cashew butter and tofu and I don’t remember what else – way too complicated. Plus I’m not following a vegan lifestyle, so why should I bother making a fake cheese sauce when I can add regular cheese instead? So I made my own version of the dish and it was very good. The recipe following here is enough for about 3 people depending on how hungry they are. Be sure to start well in advance if you make your own polenta, or it won’t have time to cool down and it will be hard to handle.

The first step is to make the polenta. You can use one of the recipes here, just make sure that you cook the sort of polenta that’s firm after cooling and start with about 200 grams of polenta meal (a little less than 1 cup).. You can add butter to your polenta, but adding parmesan cheese like some of the recipes state might be a bit too much. After boiling, pour your polenta into a dish that you’ve rinsed with water and let it cool thoroughly.
Apparently in some places you can buy ready-made polenta, that would be very suitable too.

While the polenta cools, make the sauce. No, wait. First preheat your oven, to medium heat, about 200°C. Then make the sauce. You need:

Put some olive oil into a pan and sautee the onion on medium heat until it becomes translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and keep sautéing until the mushrooms soften. Then add the kale and cook until the kale is defrosted/wilted. Season with salt and pepper and dried basil. Add the cream cheese and mix it through. Then add the olives, and turn off the heat.

By now the polenta should have cooled down completely. Turn it over on to a chopping board and cut it into slices of about 0.5 cm (0.25 inch) thick. Grease a lasagne dish with olive oil and cover the bottom with half of the polenta slices. Pour half of the tomato sauce over it and put all of the kale/mushroom mixture on top. Then cover with the remaining polenta slices and the remaining tomato sauce. Grate cheese over the top and put the dish into the oven until the cheese is brown and everything is nice and bubbly. Ready! Serve on its own or with a green salad.

Variations on this dish: you can substitute spinach for the kale. The olives can be substituted by chopped walnuts for some crunch, or you could have both. You could leave out the tomato sauce and experiment with different types of cheese. Have fun!

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