Polenta Stacks with Ham, Spinach, and Cheese

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 55 min
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Inactive: 2 hr
  • Cook: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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1 recipe quick polenta, firmed up, recipe follows

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

2 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

12 ounces baby spinach

Coarse salt

10 ounces Black Forest ham, soprasata, or coppacola

8 ounces gouda or fontina cheese, cut into thick slices

1 (15 1/2 ounce) jar marinara sauce

Quick Polenta:

2 cups chicken broth, low-sodium canned or homemade

 2 cups whole milk

 3/4 cup quick-cooking polenta

 1/4 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

 Freshly ground black pepper 


  1. Position a rack about 6-inches from the broiler and preheat to high. Cut the polenta into 8 squares and transfer to a sheet pan. Pat dry with a paper towel and lightly brush with olive oil. Broil until tops are browned, about 8 minutes. Remove pan from oven. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the garlic and pepper flakes, stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Put the spinach in the pan and season with salt, cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Reserve pan. 
  3. Divide the wilted spinach among each polenta square. Divide slices of the meat on top of the spinach and top each square with the cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese melts and just begins to brown, another 4 minutes. 
  4. Heat the sauce in the skillet used for the spinach. Ladle some sauce onto each of 4 plates. Place 2 polenta cakes in the middle of each plate and serve.

Quick Polenta:

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
  1. Put the broth and milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta, reduce the heat to low, and cook, whisking occasionally, until the polenta is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes. 
  2. Pull the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the cheese, butter, salt, and pepper. Pour into a baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.