This Polenta Lasagna is made with layers of firm polenta, a savory spinach mushroom filling, melty cheese and a roasted red pepper sauce.  Vegetarian and gluten-free. Video.

 Polenta lasagna in a baking dish

And now I understand something so frightening & wonderful- how the mind clings to the road it knows, rushing through crossroads, sticking like lint to the familiar. ~Mary Oliver

Here’s a tasty vegetarian dinner recipe- Polenta Lasagna! Hearty, robust and full of flavor, we firm polenta instead of lasagna noodles, keeping this completely gluten-free. Make your own polenta ahead, or simply use store-bought polenta!

This version is filled with a savory mixture of mushrooms and spinach, but other veggies work well here too – eggplant, peppers, zucchini, roasted butternut squash. The recipe is vegan-adaptable. 

Polenta Lasagna Ingredients

store bought polenta in a tube.
  • Firm Polenta: you can use store-bought tubes of polenta or make your own ( it needs 8 hours to set); see recipe notes.
  • Ricotta cheese:  or sub this  vegan tofu ricotta
  • Mozzarella cheese: or use melty vegan cheese)
  • Vegetables: Onion, garlic, spinach (fresh or frozen), mushrooms 
  • Roasted Red Pepper: jarred or homemade
  • Canned Diced tomatoes
  • Salt, Pepper, Italian seasoning (or use fresh rosemary or thyme)
  • Olive oil
  • Pesto- for drizzling– use store-bought or see our recipe notes.

*See notes for detailed ingredeints measurements

Polenta Lasagna Instructions

Step one: Make the firm polenta. If you are using store-bought polenta, skip this step. It requires 8 hours of firming up in the fridge. 

homemade firm polenta on a sheet pan, 1/2 inch thick, cut into 2 ½ inch squares.

Step two: Make the roasted pepper sauce. Tip: if you are in a hurry, you can always use jarred marinara sauce and skip this step! 

sauce ingredients by a blender.

Roasted peppers and diced tomatoes go into the blender. I like to add a little smoked paprika, to give it a hint of smoky flavor. 

blended red pepper sauce.

Step three: Make the Spinach mushroom filling.

mushrooms cooking in a skillet.

Saute onion, garlic and mushrooms, then add the chopped spinach, seasoning well.

adding spinach to the mushrooms filling in a skillet.

Step four. Cut the polenta. If using store-bought lasagna tubes, thinly slice. If using homemade, cut into 2 ½ inch squares.

slicing polenta.

Step five: Assemble the polenta lasagna. On a greased 9×13-inch baking dish, add a layer of sauce.

Assemebling the lasagna- layer of sauce in baking dish.

Add the first layer of polenta; you’ll only have two layers, so use half if possible.

assembling the lasagna with polenta.

Top with all of your filling.

assembling the lasagna- adding the filling.

Dot with ricotta cheese.

assembling the lasagna - adding the cheese.

Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.

assembling the lasagna - adding the cheese.

Pour some sauce over the cheese.

assembling the lasagna - adding the sauce.

Top with the second and final layer of polenta.

assembling the lasagna - adding the final layer of polenta.

Then drizzle with more sauce, just enough to cover.

assembling the lasagna - adding the cheese.

Below is what the homemade polenta version looks like.

assembling the lasagna - adding the sauce.

You can add more cheese if you like.

Step six: Bake. Cover tightly with parchment and foil and bake at 400 F for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 20-25 more minutes, uncovered, until bubbly, letting the sauce thicken a bit.

A pan of baked polenta lasagna with pesto drizzle.

Step 7: Drizzle with pesto. Using either store-bought or homemade.

Chef’s Tips

  • In a hurry? Use store-bought polenta, store-bought marinara sauce, and store-bought pesto. This will speed things up.
  • You may not need all the sauce, use as needed.
 Polenta Lasagna with layers of firm polenta, a savory spinach mushroom filling.

Serving Suggestions

Serve the polenta lasagna with a leafy green salad, Caesar salad, crusty bread, or a side of veggies like asparagus or green beans.

A serving of polenta lasagna with a leafy green salad in a bowl.


Leftovers will keep up to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in a warm 350F oven or microwave. This can also be frozen for up to 6 months, thaw overnight before reheating.


Hope you enjoy this hearty vegetarian polenta lasagna!


Polenta Lasagna video!

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Polenta Lasagna with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce - an easy, vegan adaptable main dish that is perfect for the holiday table. Gluten-free! #veganthanksgiving #polentalasagna #veganlasagna #vegetarianmaindish #veganchristmas #polenta #lasagnarecipes #glutenfreelasagna

Polenta Lasagna

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.7 from 29 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at home
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: main, vegetarain, vegan adaptable
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This Polenta Lasagna is made with layers of firm polenta, a savory spinach mushroom filling, melty cheese, and a roasted red pepper sauce.  If making polenta from scratch, allow 8 hours for refrigeration. Vegetarian and gluten-free. Vegan-adaptable.


  • 2 x 18-ounce tubes of polenta (store-bought). OR See notes for making your own!
  • 6 ounces  Ricotta cheese ( or sub this vegan tofu ricotta ) about 1-1 1/2 cups.
  • 12 cups grated mozzarella cheese (or use smoked mozzarella for great flavor, jack, or use melty vegan cheese)
  • Generous pinch salt, pepper and nutmeg

Spinach Mushroom Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • one onion, diced
  • 46 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 1016 ounces mushrooms (sliced)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning ( or use 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or thyme)
  • 2 heaping handfuls baby spinach, chopped ( or 8 ounces frozen)

Smoky Red Pepper Sauce ( or use 2 cups store-bought marinara)

  • 1 roasted red pepper (out of a jar is OK) about 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup total
  • 1 x 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes and their juices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Quick Pesto drizzle (or use store-bought pesto)

  • 1 cup packed basil ( or Italian parsley)
  • 12 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 fat garlic clove
  • salt and pepper to taste

Homemade Firm Polenta  (requires 8 hours of refrigeration time)


  1. If making with homemade Polenta- make this first and let cool 8 hours in the fridge to set up. ( You could make this ahead, along with the sauce, filling and pesto drizzle.)
  2. Preheat oven to 400F (prep and assembly will take around 45 minutes- with store-bought polenta)
  3. Make filling: Heat 1-2 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, stirring until tender, about 5 minutes, add garlic and cook 2 more minutes.  Turn skillet to medium ( or medium-low)  and add the mushrooms and add salt pepper and Italian seasoning, and saute until the mushrooms release their liquid and this evaporates, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped spinach and wilt and mix to combine, adding a splash of water if needed. Cook-off any liquid. Adjust salt to your taste.
  4. While the filling is cooking, make the Red Pepper sauce:  Add the diced tomatoes (and juices) to the blender and add the drained roasted pepper. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin and Italian herbs. Blend until creamy and smooth. If the sauce is too thick to get motor running, add a little water (a tablespoon at a time) just to get it going. Taste. It should have a sweet smoky flavor.
  5. Prep the two tubes of polenta if using store-bought. (Remember to taste it)  It’s easiest to cut the tube in half. Then in quarters, so each quarter yields 3 equal slices. So 12 slices each from each tube about 3/4 inch thick.
  6. Assemble: Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with olive oil. Place 1/2-2/3  cup sauce on the bottom, coating bottom evenly. Add the first layer of polenta ( There are 2 layers). Top with all the filling, spreading it out evenly. Dot with spoonfuls of ricotta. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Top with shredded cheese. Pour 1/2-¾  cup sauce lightly over the cheese. Then, top with a final layer of polenta. Pour sauce over top (you may not need all) and using a spatula , evenly coat the polenta evenly. Save the remaining sauce for touching up after your remove the foil.  You could do this all ahead and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  7. At this point, you could add more cheese to the top, or keep it a little leaner, up to you. Cover tightly with parchment and foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove parchment/foil and bake uncovered for 15-20 more minutes until bubbling and warmed through. If you want it “saucy”, add more sauce.
  8. While it’s baking make the Pesto Drizzle. To make the pesto drizzle, simply place ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined.
  9. When the polenta lasagna is finished cooking you could drizzle it lightly with the pesto or serve it on the side.


Keep in mind, not all store-bought polenta tastes the same. The Trader Joe’s brand is very flavorful. Your best bet is to cut a tiny piece off the end and taste it. If it tastes bland, you will need to bump up the flavor and salt in the filling and sauce. Things like garlic powder, onion powder and herbs help, and most importantly salt. The pesto drizzle will help a lot too.

To make your own firm polenta:

  1. Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a medium pot. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons garlic powder ( or onion powder) and 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme, or sage) Or sub 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, thyme, Italian herbs or herbs de Provence. When water is boiling, very slowly pour and whisk in 2 cups cornmeal, whisking out any clumps.
  2. Cover, turn heat to low and cook 2o minutes, stirring once at 10 minutes.
  3. Grease an edged  sheet pan with olive oil really well. Grease a flat metal spatula really well. Pour out the polenta so it’s ¾ thick – noting, you will not need to use the whole sheet pan, so start on one end, spreading it out the the sides. See photos.
  4. If the polenta sticks to the spatula, just pour a little olive oil over the polenta, coating the spatula with it. Flatten it out to an even thickness. I usually cover about half of a large sheet pan  (leaving half of the sheet pan bare- because if you stretch it to fill the whole pan, polenta will be too thin).
  5. Let cool, then refrigerate until very firm, about 6-8 hours, or overnight (or up to 3 days).
  6. Cut into 16,  4-inch squares. (If you end up with some smaller scraps, I usually just tuck these in the lasagna in the first, base layer, underneath so they don’t show, leaving the prettier cuts for the top layer.)


  • Serving Size: 1 ½ pieces – With the basil pesto
  • Calories: 424
  • Sugar: 6.5 g
  • Sodium: 470.2 mg
  • Fat: 26 g
  • Saturated Fat: 7.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 36.7 g
  • Fiber: 5.6 g
  • Protein: 13.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 32.5 mg

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  1. This was delicious! I used smoked red tomatoes from a can. I used a bigger baking tray and only had one layer of polenta at the bottom, sauce at the top. Used fresh mozzarella instead of shredded.
    The zing from the pesto drizzle is the jewel to this recipe.

  2. Hi, I have a question. The ingredients state cornmeal, which is different than actual polenta. Should cornmeal actually be what is used in this recipe?

  3. Made this for a dinner party, used the Trader Joe’s polenta and peppers. Turned out by fabulous and everyone loved it!! Served with a salad. One of our favorite dishes!

  4. I followed this recipe exactly, and was disappointed that it wasn’t that good. My bottom layer of polenta completely disintegrated, making a soupy mess. It was also very bland for our tastes. I’ve tried many of your recipes and have always had great success, but not this time. Luckily I was able to scoop out a good deal of the filling and used it to make a new lasagna using lasagna noodles, more sauce and a bit more cheese.

    1. Oh shoot Kim. Sorry. It sounds like the polenta did not completely set up for you. Did you use homemade polenta or store-bought- and was it firm when you assembled? Just curious. 😉

      1. I made homemade polenta, and it appeared set up as I was able to cut it in squares and assemble the lasagna quite easily. Not sure what happened. No worries, my remake was delicious using the spinach mushroom filling, more ricotta and shredded cheese!

  5. So so good!! I didn’t make the basil pesto and it was still amazing!! The tofu ricotta comes out really well once baked. I loveeee red pepper so naturally the sauce appealed to me 🙂 Would definitely make this again!!!

  6. I made this and it was delicious! For the filling I used mushrooms, spinach, roasted butternut squash and ground italian sausage. Do you think leftovers after baking can be frozen?

  7. It looks delicious and I am going to try it out tomorrow. Why do you not put the filling right to the edge? I will follow your suggestions tomorrow but would prefer to spread things to the side the next time, if that’s okay?
    Thank you.

  8. Made this. It was delicious. I never thought of using polenta instead of pasta. I’m on WW so had to make it somewhat point friendly. I used 2% low fat cottage cheese and fat free mozzarella. 2 tbs combination of ghee and olive oil to add flavor and to sauté mushrooms garlic and spinach. I used tube polenta which was surprisingly low in points. And jar marinara sauce. What a lovely change for lasagna. Thanks for the recipe.

  9. I was looking for more vegetarian dishes for some meat lovers in my life and THIS WAS A HIT! I added red pepper flakes for some heat but that’s just a personal preference. This will definitely become a dinner time staple.

  10. Loved this! I added Field Roast vegan Italian sausage and Miyoko’s fresh mozzarella plus a bit of Daiya mozzarella, and used the store-bought polenta. Absolutely delicious!

  11. Good morning Getting ready to make the polenta. I have one more question. am I really making 16- 4 inch squares? My pan has the same dimensions of the one you link to, and if I made the entire pan I would only have 12- 4 inch squares. You said you only used half the sheet. Am I having a brain cramp?

    1. Basically, you need two layers of polenta. You can change the size of the squares to fit the pan? I would divide the polenta in half on the sheet pan first. Then divide those into equal pieces. Maybe I’m confused about your question.

  12. This looks very yummy! Question, there are just two of us but was thinking of making and then freezing leftovers for another time. Has anyone done this? Would I be better off making smaller pans and freezing unbaked version?

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