Slavonian Sneaky Casserole will have you wonder: what in the heck is Slavonian casserole and why is it sneaky? Slavonia is a region in Croatia (Europe) where this recipe is originated from. Hence, I’m bringing you taste of my homeland. But you’re from Bosnia, I hear you say. True, I wasn’t born in Croatia, but both countries belonged to Yugoslavia long before I was born. For a larger part of my life, and before they separated, that was my home. I still feel equally connected to them all.
Now to the second question: why is it sneaky? You’ll love this…wait for it…there is a whole head of savoy cabbage hiding in this casserole! You wouldn’t be able to find it even if you looked through the magnifier glass. How awesome if you have picky eaters, like my husband. He hates cabbage and is not a fan of polenta, another ingredient in this casserole. Mind you, I wasn’t trying to trick him into eating things he doesn’t like, he’s not five. But, I also didn’t disclose that information until after he finished his second plate. He liked it so!
Slavonian Sneaky Casserole
If you’re turning up your nose at cabbage or polenta, humor me please and make this casserole once. It might not turn you into a cabbage or polenta lover, but you will love this casserole. I guarantee! The flavor combination is fantastic! Centuries ago, polenta was thought peasant food because it was plentiful and inexpensive and a good winter diet staple when other food was limited. Polenta is low in carbs, rich in vitamin A and C, and high in beta-carotene.
Cabbage provides fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and B6 plus calcium, magnesium, and iron to name a few. With all those health benefits, what’s not to love? And if you do fall in love with polenta, try this vegetarian version of traditional Bosnian polenta. I share another polenta recipe in my cookbook, Balkan Comfort Food. See it on the sidebar? Yes, that one with a picture of yummy colorful stuffed peppers. Am I making you hungry yet? Lol. Let’s cook!Mouthwatering #casserole packed with hidden #health #benefits to endure those long #winter… Click To Tweet
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3 cups water, divided
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 (ca. 1lb) small head savoy cabbage, thinly shredded
For meat sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh or dried parsley plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh or dried basil
1 pinch allspice (optional)
½ cup dry red wine
8 oz. crashed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
For béchamel sauce:
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg
½ cup parmesan cheese
In a large saucepan bring 2 cups of water and salt to a boil. Add shredded savoy cabbage and simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet; sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and seasonings and cook until meat is no longer pink. Mix in wine and tomatoes and cook stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine cornmeal with one cup water until all cornmeal is wet (prevents it from clumping up). Add the wet cornmeal to the pan with cabbage (do not drain the cabbage) and swiftly whisk it to combine. Immediately lower the heat and cook, stirring often, until the mixture thicken, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles, about two minutes. Don’t let it brown. Add the milk and continue to stir until sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Pour polenta (cooked cornmeal) into a greased casserole dish. Add the layer of meat sauce and finish with béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.
Bake on 375 degree F preheated oven for 20 minutes. Let cool before serving. Serving suggestion: serve with a cold glass of your favorite beer.