Make-ahead Mexican-inspired Polenta Lasagna recipe


polenta lasagna

Mexican-inspired Polenta Lasagna

Claire Tansey
This polenta lasagna is a twist on the make-ahead classic. Put it in the oven, then head outside to enjoy whatever cottage fun is in season.
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Casserole, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 10 servings


  • 900 ml chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • cups fine cornmeal 
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 white mushrooms chopped
  • 2 small zucchinis diced
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 450 g lean ground beef
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 5 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 2 796 mL cans no-salt-added whole tomatoes
  • 1 540 mL can black beans
  • 3 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese


  • Line a large, rimmed cookie sheet (about 13-by-18-inch) with parchment, or grease with cooking spray.
  • Heat broth and water in a large pot over medium until just simmering. Slowly whisk in cornmeal and ½ tsp chili powder. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and bubbly, 1–2 minutes.
  • Pour onto prepared sheet, and use a spatula to smooth the polenta into an even, thin layer. Let stand at room temperature until set, about 20 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium. Add onion and salt, and cook, covered, 3 minutes or until onions are starting to soften. Add mushrooms, zucchini, and garlic, and cook, uncovered, 8–12 minutes or until vegetables are golden and there’s very little moisture left in the pot. Add beef, and cook 3–5 minutes or until cooked through. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and cayenne.
  • Drain one can of tomatoes, then add tomatoes plus additional can (and juice), crushing them with a spoon. Simmer until thickened, about 15–20 minutes. Stir in beans.
  • Spread one-third of beef mixture in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with ½ cup cheese. Cut polenta in half crosswise. Place one half over cheese. Top with another third of beef mixture and another ½ cup cheese. Top with the remaining polenta and remaining beef mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. If making ahead, cool to room temperature, then cover tightly with foil, and refrigerate up to 2 days, or freeze.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake, covered (25–35 minutes if going straight to oven, 50–70 minutes if from the fridge) until piping hot. Uncover, and broil 3–6 minutes until the cheese is golden. Let stand 5–10 minutes before serving.


A frozen lasagna makes for easy transport. To reheat from frozen, cook at 300°F for about 3 hours, then broil as per recipe.
Keyword casserole, lasagna, make ahead
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Author and cooking teacher Claire Tansey hosts family-friendly cooking classes and is has written two cookbooks celebrating uncomplicated cooking.

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