Cheese lovers of the world, unite! This is the richest, cheesiest polenta you can imagine, and it makes a big pan full. It takes some time to cook, but little actual work, and standing around a hot oven while sipping a glass of wine sounds like a great idea right now. The consistency is soft, so you may want to tuck into it with a bowl and spoon. I was lucky to find some coarse local organic cornmeal at a natural foods store.


4 cups water

1 ½ cups cornmeal (polenta)

¼ cup nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. mellow white miso

1 tsp. salt

5 ounces sliced mushrooms

24-ounce jar spaghetti sauce (about 3 cups)

5 ounces baby spinach

¾ cup plain unsweetened nondairy milk

¼ cup neutral oil

2 Tbsp. tapioca starch/flour

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

¾ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. guar gum


1. In a large saucepan, whisk together the water, cornmeal, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, miso, and salt. Bring to a low boil on medium heat, whisking constantly until it begins to thicken. Then turn the heat as low as possible, cover the pan, and cook for a half hour. Whisk occasionally.

2. While the polenta is simmering, spray a 9-by-13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

3. When the polenta has finished simmering, pour/spread it in the baking dish and bake for a half hour.

4. While the polenta bakes, make the cheese sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk together the milk, oil, tapioca starch, lemon juice, salt, and guar gum. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until smooth and thick. It happens fast so don’t scorch it.

5. Remove the baking pan from the oven and scatter the mushrooms over the polenta. Then spread the tomato sauce over all. Then top with the spinach. Then pour/spread the cheese sauce over all. Return to the oven for another half hour.

6. Let rest for a few minutes before serving with a big spoon.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at