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  • Prep-time: / Ready In:
  • Makes one 11×7-inch lasagna

A tasty twist on lasagna, this vegan casserole recipe swaps out noodles for comforting Italian-seasoned polenta, layered with a saucy filling of lentils, kale, and bell pepper. Every forkful delivers a mouthwatering mix of the fluffy grains, tangy marinara, and tender veggies. 

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, chopped (2 cups)
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups oil-free low-sodium marinara sauce
  • 1 15-oz. can brown lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups coarsely torn stemmed kale
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups dry polenta
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water, 1 to 2 Tbsp. at a time, as needed to prevent sticking.
  2. Add 1 cup of the marinara, the lentils, kale, vinegar, tomato paste, and black pepper to skillet. Mix well and taste to adjust seasoning.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan bring 8 cups water to boiling. Gradually whisk in polenta, baking soda, and salt. Reduce heat to low; cook about 20 minutes or until mixture is thick and creamy, stirring frequently.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Evenly spread one-third of the polenta into a 2-qt. baking dish. Cover the saucepan so the remaining polenta doesn’t dry out. Spread half of the lentil mixture over the polenta in the baking dish. Top it with another one-third of the polenta. Repeat with the remaining lentil mixture and polenta, smoothing the polenta layer evenly.
  5. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes. Just before serving, warm the remaining marinara and spread it over the top of the lasagna. Garnish with fresh basil.

Comments (31)

(4.27 from 15 votes)
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Tina Gonnermann3 weeks ago
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What grain is being used to make the polenta. I don’t think you should pour 1 cup of the polenta into the boiling water as polenta is the finished product after the grain has been cooked. Should the recipe say “1 cup of cornmeal”?

Joanne Del Deo2 months ago
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This recipe is fabulous. However, it should be noted that you must not use the fine-grained cornmeal sold as polenta. I did, and it was a gloppy disaster and unusable. But when I tried again using regular whole grain cornmeal (Bob’s Mill brand) it came out perfect. Cornmeal and polenta are not interchangeable in this recipe. I am very grateful for this delicious new recipe and suggest it be renamed Layered Cornmeal/Lentil/Marinara Casserole. That would be more accurate.

GG3 months ago
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I’m for sure going to try this–but I’ll cook my own lentils and use my own marinara. Can’t abide sweet jarred marinara. Plus, I’ve always cooked my own legumes from scratch; they are ever so much more gentle on the gut.

janet3 months ago
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Is it possible to print this?

JJ3 months ago
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I won’t make this again. It took a lot of time and labor, and all that effort to layer everything, only for it to turn out like gruel. Ugly, smushy, and unpalatable. The taste was fine. Not great, but good enough if it weren’t for the appearance, texture, time, effort and dishes.

Sharr4 months ago
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Who ever buys “Italian seasoning”? I always have its separate ingredients already in my cupboard!

Mary7 months ago
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Loved this but next time I would also increase Italian spices and add course chopped fresh garlic and mushrooms! As others said, it’s even better the second day. If making for company I’d make the day before. Maybe serve cold as a lovely summer dish. I’m eating it cold now for breakfast! Yummy!

Megan8 months ago
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Pretty good. I think I would make it again using this tip:

“I doubled the Italian Seasoning. Also, for a bit of creaminess, I added a half cup of cashew cream (1/4 c soaked raw cashews blended with 1/2 c water and 1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast) to the sauce.”

Karen12 months ago
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This was great! Like another commenter, I doubled the Italian Seasoning. Also, for a bit of creaminess, I added a half cup of cashew cream (1/4 c soaked raw cashews blended with 1/2 c water and 1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast) to the sauce. We loved it.

Anne Paddock1 year ago
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A super easy recipe that definitely tastes better the second and third day. After reading the comments on seasoning, I put a tablespoon of Italian Seasoning in instead of a teaspoon and reduced the vinegar to 1 tablespoon (and used apple cider vinegar instead of white). I also increased the salt to 1/2 teaspoon. For the kale I used a bunch of Lacinto Kale, cut the leaves from the stems, and finely diced the leaves (discarding the stems). The finished product is delicious and does cut like a cake after 2 days in the refrigerator. Simply heat up a slice, top with diced avocado and enjoy!

Malcolm N1 year ago
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Healthy but tasteless. Won’t make this again. I love all the ingredients, but this combination was not good in my opinion.

Melanie11 months ago
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Does anyone know how many calories are in this meal?

Carla1 year ago
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My husband (who is a meat eater) and I very much enjoyed this recipe. I did utilize grits as that is what I had in the pantry. My husband went back for seconds. I did not find the prep too time consuming. Definitely use a larger pot then you think you will need if you use grits. (Trust me in this).

Sharon1 year ago
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I would like to see recipes for 1 or 2 people. As a single person, I would like to have recipes that won’t require me eating leftovers for several days.

Denise Goldsberry1 year ago
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Cut the recipe in half lol- I do that with pretty much every recipe.

Heather2 years ago
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I had to come back and comment again. *This dish is best served the second day. It allows the polenta to set up then, when cut, it slices cleanly like a layered cake. Looks impressive!
I reheated mine in a cast iron skillet adding water to steam on medium for 15 minutes. The dish holds together beautifully and transfers unbroken to be plated.

Heather2 years ago
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I used yellow corn grits in place of polenta, rice vinegar and probably too many vegetables but, turned out well. Very hardy, filling and flavorful! I added a pinch of cayenne to the lentil mixture and topped it with some bruschetta I had sitting around- delicious!

Kurt2 years ago
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A nutritious, whole food/plant-based, no oil, and fairly tasty dish which in no way resembles lasagna. I sat down to eat 2.5 hours after launching the recipe. I won’t make again because too laborious and time-consuming to justify the outcome, both in preparation and clean-up.

Teruse3 months ago
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Try using the premade polenta in a tube and it works out just about perfect for 2.5 people

Alberto2 years ago
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great alternative to traditional polenta. I do not add salt, and I am using a can of imported tomatoes SanMarzano (whole, not chopped). Why is baking soda necessary?

Coach Marge1 year ago
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Baking soda is used to cut the acid in tomato dishes.

Polenta Granny2 years ago
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It may be what makes the polenta “fluffy.” I would not call the polenta I make for cereal or frying, “fluffy.” That fluffiness may, also, allow the sauces to meld more evenly into the cornmeal.

Yolanda Garza2 years ago
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I love the recipes, I can’t wait to start cooking.

ATCBusesOrlando2 years ago
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Sounds really good, will try to cook it tonight.

Gina2 years ago
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I took the yard sauce to mean Lori was a gardener and had some nice veggies coming in already in her yard.

This might be good in a Tex Mex version and the polenta made with blue corn meal!

Teruse3 months ago
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Thank you! I love the sound of your version of this! Black beans instead of lentils and canned salsa or Rotel 🙂 with cilantro & avocado to garnish!

Lori Belenzon2 years ago
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I had to do some improvising, using black beans instead of lentils, and a good yard red sauce instead of the sauce ingredients, but other than that I mostly follow the recipe. Very easy and delicious! The challenge is not eating each of the components individually before putting them together into this lovely Pie!

Cindi M.2 years ago
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Comfort food! This has a mellow flavor that is just right or can be customized to your preferences. Easy to make. I’m looking forward to trying the leftovers to see how the flavors merge ever further.

Bev1 year ago
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I think autocorrect changed jarred sauce to yard sauce. Looks like a good, healthy recipe. Will try it.

Diana Trent2 years ago
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Karen,
I think Lori meant jarred sauce. 🙂

Karen Moore2 years ago
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Lori Belenzon, what does that even mean? What is a good yard sauce??? Thx!

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about the author

Darshana Thacker Wendel

Darshana Thacker Wendel is a whole-food, plant-based chef and former culinary projects manager for Forks Over Knives. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of Forks Over Knives: Flavor! She created the recipes for Forks Over Knives Family and was a lead recipe contributor to the New York Times bestseller The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit DarshanasKitchen.com and follow her on Instagram for more.

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