Polenta Al Forno with Collard Greens
Polenta al forno. A fancy way of saying “oven-baked” polenta, but the name adds a certain je nais se quoi, am I right? This delicious polenta dish makes a wonderful main course!
This cheesy polenta dish is the epitome of rustic, comfort Italian food.
This version is stuffed with collard greens, cheddar, and ricotta cheese. It’s worth nothing that this polenta recipe shines best when prepared with homemade ricotta (the polenta is cooked in the resulting whey liquid).
However if you’re not up to the added prep time, feel free to substitute a high-quality store-bought ricotta and water in place of whey.
This dish is similar to a layered lasagna . The base for this dish is soft polenta and we’ll add a generous layer of cheesy collard greens. Just before baking, we’ll top the final layer of polenta with more parmesan and cheddar cheese!
It lightly browns and caramelizes during baking.
Since the dish is relatively hearty and rich (yet not overly so), I recommend serving it as a main course. It pairs wonderfully with a big hearty salad and also tastes great on top of some homemade tomato sauce.
Though the dish takes some time to put together (about 2 hours from start to finish, though most of the time is not active), it can be made and refrigerated ahead of time.
Polenta Al Forno with Collard Greens, Cheddar and Ricotta
- 1 lb (16 oz) collard greens
- 1 cup medium or fine polenta (cornmeal)
- 5 cups leftover whey liquid (from homemade ricotta) or water
- kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups homemade ricotta or store-bought whole fat ricotta
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- zest of 1 lemon
- 5 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
- 4½ ounces freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese
- softened unsalted butter for greasing the baking dish
- Cook the Collard Greens: Clean collard greens and remove any tough stems (I personally like to keep a little bit of the stem on). Roll several leaves at a time, similar to a chiffonade technique, and cut into about 1-inch strips. This doesn’t have to be exact, but try to keep the pieces relatively consistent in size.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add all of the collard greens and blanch for two minutes. Drain collards in a large colander and allow to cool completely. Squeeze the collard greens of any excess moisture and chop finely.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) with a rack in the center position.
- Cook The Polenta: Add whey liquid to a medium-sized saucepan (4 quarts or larger) and bring to a boil. Season with salt. Slowly pour in the polenta, in a steady fine stream, into the boiling liquid, stirring continuously with a stiff, metal whisk or wooden spoon. Whisk continuously for an additional three minutes, until the polenta begins to slightly thicken. Turn down the heat to a low simmer and cook for an additional 40 to 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the polenta is cooked completely. Depending on your stove, check regularly to ensure that the polenta is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. If the polenta gets too thick or difficult to stir, add a small amount of water at a time (you may need to add up to an additional cup of liquid) to thin it down. Once the polenta is completely cooked, stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Start assembling the dish immediately.
- Assemble: In a bowl, combine the chopped collard greens, ricotta cheese, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, lemon zest, and 3 tablespoons grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and all but 3 tablespoons of the grated cheddar. Mix well with a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking dish. Spoon half of the batch of soft polenta into the baking dish and spread into a thin layer with an offset spatula. Spoon the collard green mixture evenly over the surface, spreading it into a thin layer. Top with the remaining soft polenta and spread to smooth the surface. The polenta layer will seem very thin, don’t worry if some of the collard green mixture can be seen though the top. This dish can be prepared to this stage, covered well, and refrigerated overnight. Allow to com to room temperature before baking.
- Sprinkle the top of the polenta with the remaining grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and cheddar.
- Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 50 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
28 Comments on “Polenta Al Forno with Collard Greens”
Veganized this today!
Big hit with the polenta loving family.
Subbed vegan feta I had onhand for ricotta because I didn’t feel like making vegan ricotta, then subbed violfe cheddar, and follow your heart Parm for the dairy versions.
Added some spinach to the collards to bulk up my greens a bit and subbed Earth balance for butter.
Wonderful recipe, and nice blog you have. I will follow your recipes now. Thanks for sharing
this looks gorgeous and sounds delicious! I haven’t cooked with polenta before. I need to give this a shot!
I think you’ve taken what is already a perfect mouthful to a whole new level! I have your reaction(but no talent) to Polenta and cheese every time I see some lying in my fridge. Yum!
This looks so great! Gorgeous photography too!
This sounds fantastic! What could be better: cheese, polenta, greens?? And homemade ricotta really is the way to go. So easy and amazing.
I love polenta. I usually made it on a stovetop, never tried baking it. I've got some chard in the fridge, I think it could work in place of the collard greens? I think I should this – soon – it looks delicious.
Um, I know what I'm having for dinner tonight! Hooray. Thank you, Laura!
Did you make it? 🙂 Be sure to let me know how it was!
This look incredible Laura. I superb use of polenta. I've started turning polenta into chips as I can't face the sloppy version anymore.
Chips?! Very cool. Thanks for the feedback!
Connie — Definitely! I think a lot of different options could work, I think the biggest takeaway is probably to avoid vegetables with lots of water content– but other than that, it is a very flexible dish. Thanks for visiting!
I love polenta, but have never thought about baking it "lasagna" style…genius! I love the idea of layering it with all those wonderful flavors. I imagine you could play around with different cheeses and veggies too. Great recipe!
Definitely! I think a lot of different options could work, I think the biggest takeaway is probably to avoid vegetables with lots of water content– but other than that, it is a very flexible dish. Thanks for visiting!
Brian would love this, i will have to make it for him!!
Brian would definitely like this! 🙂
Mom — It could be a side dish, possibly to something simple like roast chicken. But since its slightly time-consuming, I served it as a main on a little bit of homemade tomato sauce. I think it could also be great with just a large salad–similar in that way to a quiche.
I was thinking of mentioning Go-Gurt in yesterday's post! Know you hated that one.
This looks incredibly delicious! I definitely am going to make this! Was this a side dish or the main dish? I am sure that the "mouth feel" of this dish has to beat the "industry" cuisine mentioned in yesterday's article.
PS I hated "Go-gurt" more than anything! "Go" was the operational word, everywhere!
It could be a side dish, possibly to something simple like roast chicken. But since its slightly time-consuming, I served it as a main on a little bit of homemade tomato sauce. I think it could also be great with just a large salad–similar in that way to a quiche.
I was thinking of mentioning Go-Gurt in yesterday’s post! Know you hated that one.
Stephanie — Thanks so much! And so happy to have discovered your blog a few days ago, I'm already a huge fan!
Pippa — Brian would definitely like this! 🙂
Jackie — I love serving plain, soft polenta as side, but this definitely mixes it up a bit and its nice to add some flavors, especially since that part times almost no additional time. Please let me know if you try it! 🙂
Sally — Thank you! Definitely lots of cheese going on! Haha. And thanks for stopping by and saying hi–I'm still drooling over your cookie post from this morning…
Sues — Hahaha. Laughing out loud at the random number, but totally true 🙂 And it is a great dish for cold, wintry nights, even if DC isn't having many of those this year.
I'm already obsessed with polenta, but I think this would make me 4902 times more obsessed! Perfect for the chilly Boston nights 🙂
Hahaha. Laughing out loud at the random number, but totally true 🙂 And it is a great dish for cold, wintry nights, even if DC isn’t having many of those this year.
i LOVE all of the flavors together here. And the addition of greens and two cheeses! This is like my favorite kind of comfort food. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this!
Thank you! Definitely lots of cheese going on! Haha. And thanks for stopping by and saying hi–I’m still drooling over your cookie post from this morning…
This is such a great idea! I love making polenta but I've gotten pretty bored with just serving it soft like a mashed potato. Definitely trying this one – thanks!
I love serving plain, soft polenta as side, but this definitely mixes it up a bit and its nice to add some flavors, especially since that part times almost no additional time. Please let me know if you try it! 🙂
Ooooh this sounds so incredibly delicious! Loving all the flavors.
Thanks so much! And so happy to have discovered your blog a few days ago, I’m already a huge fan!