Pasta, Pizza, Risotto

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage (Torta di Polenta, Gorgonzola, e Verze)

Nicoletta November 23, 2017

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Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage (Torta di Polenta, Gorgonzola, e Verze), is our second recipe chosen from Lidia Bastianich and Tania Bastianich Manuali’s new cookbook “Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian“. We’re hosting a week sharing some of their recipes, and if a week is not enough there will be others to follow, we assure you!

Song of the day: Everybody’s got to learn sometime (Indaco dagli Occhi del Cielo) – Zucchero feat. Jenny Bae

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage

Needless to say, we were absolutely thrilled to review Lidia Bastianich’s new cookbook, co-written with her daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali, “Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian – 220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party“. Thank you, Appetite Random House for the opportunity.

 

 

Italians know how to celebrate, and they always find a reason to do so. Whether it is sharing the table with family, invite some friends over, or host a big, festive gathering, they make sure to be prepped for the occasion. The house will be cleaned and organized, every room of it, the table beautifully set, possibly with the “servizio buono” (best China), the scent of food prepared with love and care with the best ingredients lingering in the air, the host all dressed up, and everything, from the moment you step in, would say “welcome to my home”.

When I flipped through Lidia’s cookbook, from the pictures and the choice of recipes, I recognized that quintessential Italian way of celebrating, warm and inviting. Quite a few of the recipes talked home to me, some were not usual for my family to make but nonetheless classic dishes from a different part of Italy, while others, were a nice surprise of pretty tasty new ideas.

Chosen Recipes:

– Peperonata (Stewed Savory Peppers) (Page 46)

We talked about this recipe in this post and more about the cookbook review.

– Pear and Chocolate Tart (Crostata di Pere e Cioccolata) (Page 344)

– Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe’) (Page 351)

Both dessert recipes are going to be posted at the end of the week.

Today’s Tested Recipe

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage (Torta di Polenta, Gorgonzola, e Verze) (Page 194)

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage

I cannot count the many times there was polenta on our table in Italy. My grandparents loved it, my parents felt the same way, so either at home or at a family Sunday gathering at my nonni’s, you could easily find a polenta dish.

At my nonni, you would find on the table the big wood board called “spianatoia“, the polenta would be distributed all over, the thick flavorful sauce spread on top, together with sausages and pork ribs cooked in the sauce, and finished with a generous dusting of Parmigiano. Everybody would find a spot on the wood board and they would all eat together, making their way into the polenta, neighboring with their fork the other person’s spot. And after some time, where silence was king since everybody would be busy eating, the polenta would be gone.

At my parents’, my mom and dad would take turns stirring the polenta in the big copper pot, with a big whisk (both specifically used to make polenta), paying attention it didn’t stick to the bottom and burn, ruining irremediably the flavor of the polenta. When ready, my father would spread the polenta on each plate, or on individual wood boards bought at a country fair, covering the polenta with the sauce where sausages would be swimming, leaving a thick border around with no sauce and remembering absolutely no sausage for me, just a double grating of Parmigiano.

When my relatives that lived in Veneto, the Region North-East of Italy, would come and visit, we would have polenta “white”. My aunt would make her famous “Polenta e Baccalà alla Vicentina”, that is Salt Cod with Polenta, a mouthwatering, creamy, flavorful recipe, so different from the polenta with tomato sauce we were used to having.

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage

As soon as I saw Lidia’s recipe for this amazing Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage (Torta di Polenta, Gorgonzola, e Verze) I knew we had to make it. Quite a few were the reasons that drew me to it. First of all, it was beautiful, second, it was polenta, and similar to the one my aunt makes, third, it had gorgonzola, forth, it had a mix of savoy cabbage and potatoes that it is one my dad’s feature recipes. Can you imagine all of this together what kind of an incredible dish would create? Well, we know, ’cause we made it!

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage is definitely not a 15 or 30-minute meal. But with Lidia’s advice and easy-to-follow instructions, you will have no hesitation and it will seem like you’ve been doing this dish forever. You certainly need to plan to spend some time in the kitchen, and maybe, like we did, start the day before by making the polenta, wash, chop and boil the savoy cabbage and potatoes. That will save you some time and reduce the stress in the kitchen. If you have a partner to share the kitchen, responsibility, joy, and success, like I have in Loreto, that would be even better. The final result will repay you tenfold for the effort that you put into it, and it will show your guests, or simply your family, your love and care for them. And a WOW will escape from their mouths.

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage

With polenta done and resting in a 9-inch cake pan, the savoy cabbage and potatoes sauteed in the pan with e.v.o. oil, garlic and chili flakes (the best “trio” in my opinion), we called it a day and woke up the next morning ready to finish the dish and set it in the oven to cook in time to take pictures before the sun would set (read: life of a food blogger in the Far North). The polenta was fully set, and Loreto did an amazing job slicing it nicely, forming 3 layers. At that point I had a bit of a panic attack since you all know that layered cakes are not my thing, so Loreto (Mr. Calm Cucumber) came to the rescue and we filled the polenta with the cabbage/potato mixture, and the gorgonzola, on each layer, finishing the top with a slather of melted butter and a bountiful grating of Grana Padano. Once the layers were cut and assembled, we knew we were winning this challenge. Aren’t you salivating by now? We were, and a few were the handfuls of cabbage/potato or gorgonzola that didn’t make it in the Polenta Torta but ended up in our mouth (incredible how such things happen! lol).

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy CabbagePolenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage

As it bakes in the oven the aroma of corn and a mix of cheese, potato and cabbage start to linger in the kitchen. Loreto and I are bent over peeking through the oven door, watching the gorgonzola ooze down the sides, and the Grana Padano start to melt and form that crusty top. “Is it ready yet?” one of my go-to demands, with Loreto always patiently responding “Not yet“.

Taking this Polenta Torta out of the oven was a two-person task. Quite heavy and substantial, it required a bit of arm muscle for me to hold it while Loreto was taking the picture.

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage

We could not wait to unleash the springform and have the patience to take the final pictures. Once that was done, our forks were ready and the taste test begins. The polenta is so moist and just melts in your mouth. This is where the sauteed cabbage comes in with that sweet and earthy flavor. The potatoes like velvet on your tongue taking the texture of this dish to new heights. Finally, the gorgonzola mingles in between ingredients making its statement in a harmonious way which holds you in this blissful state. The chili flakes, garlic, olive oil, and butter also play an important role to giving this dish richness, and that top crust with the melted and crispy Grana Padano hands a nice diversity to the creamy texture of the whole. This recipe is the epitome of food love for us, it has comfort, richness and an elegance to it that makes it entice its gazers.

Lidia suggests you can vary the filling, however you wish, and if going for a tomato sauce, save the extra sauce and serve it on the side when slicing the Polenta Torta. As for us, we loved this flavor combination and would definitely make it againIf you are a gorgonzola lover, you will be in heaven as puddles of it meld and combine with the cabbage/potato mixture and moisten the polenta in a mouthful of deliciousness. But if gorgonzola is not your flavor, Lidia, and us with her, suggests to switch it with Taleggio, or Montasio, for a slightly milder version of the Polenta Torta.

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage

Should you have this book on your shelf?

Our second recipe in takes us into a very confident and appreciative yes! This is a great book to have lingering on the kitchen counters. If you like traditional Italian cooking, infused with a bit of American flair, you will truly enjoy this book. From planning a romantic picnic for two to hosting a large formal party, “Lidia’s Celebrate like an Italian” will give you the tools and recipes to wow your guests and bring joy to a festive occasion. The intimate and interactive style, combined with stories, photos, and tidbits, give you a true look and feel of celebration Italian-style!

Buon Appetito!

Song of the day: Everybody’s got to learn sometime (Indaco dagli Occhi del Cielo) – Zucchero feat. Jenny Bae

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Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage (Torta di Polenta, Gorgonzola, e Verze)

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  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Yield: 6-8 servings
  • Category: Main, Vegetarian
  • Method: Cooking, Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Excerpted from Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian. Copyright © 2017 Tutti a Tavola, LLC. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.


Ingredients

Basic Polenta:

  • 5 cups water (or half water and half milk, for a richer taste) (we went for the richer taste!)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse yellow cornmeal

Polenta Torta:

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 1 recipe basic polenta (preceding recipe), hot
  • fine dried bread crumbs, for the pan
  • 2 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for cooking water
  • 1 small head savoy cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled Gorgonzola or grated Taleggio or Montasio cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Grana Padano

Instructions

Basic Polenta:

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the water (or water and milk), olive oil, bay leaf, and salt, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Very slowly, sift the cornmeal by handfuls into the pot, through the fingers of one hand, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or whisk to remove any lumps.
  2. Once all of the cornmeal is added, adjust the heat so just a few lazy bubbles pop to the surface. Continue to cook and stir until the polenta is smooth and thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan as it is stirred, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Polenta Torta:

  1. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Pour the just-cooked polenta into the greased cake pan. Let stand until cool, then refrigerate until completely chilled, about 4 to 5 hours.
  2. When the polenta is firm, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 10-inch-tall springform pan, coat with bread crumbs, and shake any excess out of the pan.
  3. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan with ample salted water. Bring to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, remove any wilted or yellow leaves from the cabbage and cut out the core. Cut the cabbage into 1-inch chunks. Add these to the pot with the potatoes, and cook until both vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes more.
  5. Drain the vegetables thoroughly. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the thyme and garlic, and cook until garlic is just golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cabbage-potato mixture, the salt, and the pepper flakes. Cook, turning the vegetables occasionally, until the liquid is evaporated and the vegetables begin to sizzle. Mash the vegetables coarsely with the spoon as you turn them, leaving plenty of lumps. Be careful not to scorch the mixture – just cook it until the liquid has evaporated. Remove the garlic cloves (if they haven’t mashed into the mixture) and discard.
  6. Invert the cooled polenta cake onto a cutting board. With a long, thin knife, slice the cake into three even horizontal layers. Place the top layer upside down in the bottom of the buttered 10-inch springform pan. Top with half of the potato-cabbage mixture and half of the Gorgonzola. Top the cheese with the center layer of polenta, and top that with the remaining potato-cabbage mixture and Gorgonzola. Place the bottom layer of the polenta cake upside down over the torta and press gently. Brush the top of the torta with the 2 tablespoons butter, and sprinkle with the grated Grana Padano.
  7. Bake the torta until the top layer of cheese is lightly browned and the torta is heated through, about 40 minutes.
  8. Remove, and let cool 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the sides of the springform pan, and cut the torta into slices to serve.

Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage

Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian
Author: Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
Hardcover: 385 Pages
Publisher: Appetite by Random House
ISBN: 978-0-14-752977-0

Acknowledgement

Excerpted from Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian. Copyright © 2017 Tutti a Tavola, LLC. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Disclosure: A review copy of Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian was provided by  Appetite by Random House. All opinions, as usual, are our own.

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38 Comments

  • Reply gardeningfoodie November 23, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    What an amazing recipe this is Nicoletta…I love recipes with polenta…and this sounds like an absolutely divine recipe, I would love to try it. 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 23, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      So glad you like it because we are absolutely in love with this dish! It requires some time but the result is outstanding! Hope you try it and let us know! We are going to make it again, for sure! Thank you for your comment!!

  • Reply Marisa's Italian Kitchen November 23, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    This is taking polenta to a whole other level…I’ve never quite seen it served up this way and I LOVE it! I grew up on polenta and it was served in a rustic way at home but this polenta torta makes a lovely presentation and perfect for special occasions! Just beautiful!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 23, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      I know, Marisa! Even me, never had it this way, before. The flavors are amazing and the presentation beautiful. We are in love with this torta 😊. Thank you for your comment!

  • Reply maria November 24, 2017 at 7:43 am

    I agree, Italians do love to celebrate! Great excuse to have fantastic food with family and friends 😉 Although with this recipe, I think I would be able to have the whole torta all be myself for all the reasons you stated. The only difference is that my number one reason would be polenta… definitey my Achilles’ heel.

    Looks like this is a great cookbook and I think I am going to treat myself. Thanks for this fantastic review Nicoletta!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 24, 2017 at 8:08 am

      Always and excuse to have good food 😉 . Yes! It is a great cookbook, we are really happy to have it lingering around and we are going to make a few more recipes 🙂 . Thank you so much for your comment!

  • Reply Gabrielle @ eyecandypopper November 24, 2017 at 11:50 am

    omg! that sounds so ridiculously good! That must’ve been so hard to resist eating it while taking the pictures! haha

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 24, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      It was the best polenta we’ve had so far 😊. Time consuming to make but so rewarding! Thank you!

  • Reply Lily {Gastro Senses} November 24, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    YUM, this recipe just screams comfort food season!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 24, 2017 at 7:40 pm

      Yes it definitely does! Thanks!

  • Reply mylifecookbook November 27, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Oh my that looks fab! I love Lidia’s recipes though I tend to buy her cookbooks and just look at the pictures. haha. You are inspiring me to give it a try!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 27, 2017 at 11:47 am

      I am glad you love Lidia’s recipes! They are amazing, and really foolproof. Some of them might be a little intimidating, like this one, but definitely worth the effort. Others, are really easy to make and so delicious! Hope you try some 😉 !

  • Reply Sarah @ Champagne Tastes November 27, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    This cookbook sounds amazing! I love polenta, and I’d never thought of turning it into a tart!

    • sugarlovespices
      Reply sugarlovespices November 27, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      Thank you, Sarah! It is a great cookbook to have and many are the recipes worth repeating. This one just blew our minds, as well!

  • Reply Gloria Duggan November 27, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    HAHAH…isn’t that awesome….one Italian to the next. Your FOOD is awesome….and I can’t wait till you have a cookbook of your own. Remember me….I would LOVE to review it!!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 29, 2017 at 8:09 am

      Thank you so much, Gloria! This cake was so much fun to make. And the presentation is beautiful, would make a great appearance for any guests.

  • Reply Laineey November 27, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    It was fun reading about your families love of polenta and the big board experience. My hubby’s family ate it like yours did/does! I love it any way! And I look forward to making your beautiful and delicious polenta!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 29, 2017 at 8:10 am

      It is a fun and familiar way of eating, all together sharing a wood board 😉 . Thanks so much, it so good!

  • Reply Abby November 28, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    This isn’t a recipe I would have ever thought to make, but it’s beautiful and it looks delicious!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 29, 2017 at 8:06 am

      It is amazing, we still lick our lips thinking of this dish! Thank you!

  • Reply Anne Murphy November 30, 2017 at 11:31 am

    That looks amazing! What a wonderful presentation for a dinner party! I’ve started using polenta more and more often, but I haven’t made anything this elegant with it yet.

    Though elegant isn’t everything – I love your description of the whole family eating around the board… What a wonderful memory!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 30, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you! Such a nice memory of my family, so grateful you read through the post. This recipe will make any celebration, even more special!

  • Reply Leslie December 1, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Sadly I can’t eat gorgonzola, but I’ll sub it out for something else because this sounds amazing!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 1, 2017 at 8:49 am

      No to worry, we said in the post that it can be replaced with Taleggio or Montasio, two other great Italian cheeses with a little bite 😉 . Thank you for your comment, it is an amazing dish.

  • Reply helene dsouza December 2, 2017 at 6:12 am

    I made a layered casserole of polenta years ago on my blog! I am a polenta addict =D
    However I had no clue that this dish existed! Such a great discovery, now I just need to get me some quality gorgonzola or I might come back to your suggestion to make this dish with Montasio.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 4, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      That’s great that you already made a layered casserole polenta dish! I bet it was delicious! This dish would work very well also with Montasio cheese instead of gorgonzola.

  • Reply westviamidwest December 3, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    her cookbooks are always used at my house! She does everything well. Id not made this one, but it sounds fantastic. Pinned it to give it a try!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 3, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      She does! And to make her recipes is a pleasure. This dish is fantastic. Thank you!

  • Reply Mackenzie @ Food Above Gold December 3, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    What a beautiful meal! Not only do all of the flavors in this make me drool, but the presentation with the three layers make this a showstopper meal! I can’t wait to make this!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 4, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      Thank you! It is a showstopper dish, and the flavors are even better 😊.

  • Reply karyld2016 December 3, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    What an interesting and unique mix of ingredients! I never would have thought to eat cabbage with cheese. I have a bag of polenta just waiting to be made…I may need to try it with this recipe

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 4, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      It might seems a unique combination but the flavors actually work great together. Hope you try it. Thank you for your comment!

  • Reply Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen December 3, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    What an interesting dish! Love those layers – it’s such an elegant way to serve polenta!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 4, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      Interesting flavors and elegant presentation. Thank you for describing this amazing dish so well!

  • Reply Lynette December 4, 2017 at 6:12 am

    I’ve never made polenta but now you have me intrigued! It’s look delicious!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 4, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      Polenta is so good, hearty and substantial, in the colder months. Either with tomato sauce, or white like this one. Hope you try it 😉! Thank you for stopping by!

  • Reply Sara Lehman December 6, 2017 at 11:43 am

    This looks like a great dinner! I love the combination of flavors!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 6, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      It makes for such a great presentation, if you are entertaining. Thank you!

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