Try This Easy Meatless Meal for Lent: Healthy Polenta Veggie Bake Casserole (Gluten Free)

Let's face it: coming up with healthy, meatless meals that your kids will actually eat AND that you'll have the energy to make by the time Friday evening rolls around can be a real challenge!

If your family goes meatless every Friday all year long, you can really be scraping the barrel for ideas by the time Lent arrives. And who really has the time to be scouring the internet for recipes, sifting through endless commentary, and reading dozens of recipes just to find one that works? Don't worry, I've got you covered :)

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share a few of my favorite meatless, gluten-free, healthy, and (mostly) kid-friendly meals here on the blog. I'll include a very short description of what the meal is, simple ingredients and directions, and a printable version. What I won't include (except for this particular post since it's the introduction to the series!) is a lengthy explanation and a million pictures--this isn't a food blog after all! So without further ado, here it is:

Polenta Veggie Bake Casserole

I've been making this Polenta Veggie Bake Casserole for years after adapting it from this recipe from Eating Well, and it's honestly stood the test of time in my household. The kids eat it (most of the time), and it works really well to take to a potluck or a meatless Stations of the Cross meal.


  • 2-3 TBS Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1 medium Eggplant, peeled and diced

  • 2-3 Zucchini and/or Summer Squash, diced

  • 2 tsp salt, divided

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • 1 jar pasta or marinara sauce

  • 1/4 cup freeze-dried basil (could use fresh or squeeze-tube variety)

  • 10 oz baby spinach or diced Kale (or leafy green of choice)

  • 1 1/2 cups Polenta (Corn grits--I use the Bob's Red Mill kind)

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

  2. Prepare the polenta according to the package directions (if using Bob's Red Mill: bring 4 1/2 cups of water and 1 tsp salt to a boil; gradually stir in the polenta, then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir until the polenta is thickened).

  3. Spread the polenta on the bottom of the baking dish. It will firm up and take the shape of the dish.

  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.

  5. Add the eggplant, zucchini, and 1 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of black pepper. Stir occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 4-6 minutes.

  6. Add the spinach or kale and stir until wilted, about 3 minutes.

  7. Stir in the pasta sauce and the basil until heated through.

  8. Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella cheese over the prepared polenta.

  9. Top with the vegetable mixture. Spread it out to cover the polenta and the layer of cheese.

  10. Top with the remaining mozzarella.

  11. Bake for about 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

  12. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

Here's the printable version of this recipe:

Polenta Veggie Bake
Download PDF • 46KB

I hope you and your family enjoy it!

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