I had forgotten how much I love polenta.
It’s like this wonderfully homey corn cake that goes so well with any kind of pasta sauce you can put on top of it.
I couldn’t find the tube stuff at the grocery store the other day (it’s a guilty pleasure of mine, I’m sorry for all of you polenta-snobs out there!) so I looked up how to make it myself. I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to make!
Polenta and southern-style grits are similar, but polenta is far easier to make. I used yellow cornmeal and heated a pot of water to a boil, stirred it in and let it thicken up, then poured it into a glass baking dish to chill for an hour. The whole process was extremely easy and smooth.
If you’re curious about the difference between polenta and grits, here it is: they use different cornmeal. Grits are typically made from white cornmeal (hominy) and polenta is made from yellow.
Anyway, I needed something to serve with my polenta so I came up with this Italian sausage saute. I recommend using regular Italian sausage; I grabbed some chicken Italian sausage and the fennel inside of it was almost overpowering! I am not a huge fennel fan and when there’s too much of it, it can taste too perfumey and too much like licorice.
Use your favorite veggies for this saute. I chose red bell pepper, mushrooms and zucchini. I’d be willing to bet red onion and spinach or kale would be good in this saute as well.
Italian Sausage Saute with Garlic Parmesan Polenta
A simple saute with Italian sausage and veggies served over firm garlic parmesan polenta.
- 1 lb. Italian sausage links, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 zucchini, cut into half moons
- 12 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, quartered
- 1 TBS. olive oil
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
For the Garlic Parmesan Polenta:
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3.5 cups water
- 2 TBS. butter
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- salt & pepper
- Oil, for frying
- Make the polenta: heat water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in cornmeal and reduce heat to medium, stirring until polenta is thickened. Remove from heat and pour polenta into a square glass baking dish. Stir in butter, garlic powder, parmesan, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 1 hour until firm.
- Make the saute: heat oil in a large skillet. Stir in sausage and cook until browned on both sides, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper, mushrooms and zucchini and saute until slightly firm and mushrooms are browned, another 3-4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Before serving, stir in balsamic vinegar.
- Remove polenta from fridge and cut out 1-2″ pieces (circles or squares). Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 pieces of polenta and fry until golden brown on both sides.
- Serve polenta with Italian sausage and veggie mixture on top.