Monday, May 2, 2011

Parmesan Polenta and Spicy Sausage Sauce

Sometimes when I get issues of food magazines in the mail, my excitement for new recipes turns listless and unimpressed with each flip of the page. Nothing stands out, nothing screams "make me!". Other times, though, I have to quickly hunt down a pen to mark all the recipes that I just can't wait to try. This month's edition of Cooking Light happened to be one of those issues which left me scrambling for a pen.

I have never made nor had polenta before, so I figured it was about time I try it out. It seemed simple enough -- add instant polenta to a boiling water/broth mixture and stir. Didn't seem too hard. And it wasn't. Definitely quick and easy to whip up while the sauce merrily bubbled away. I won't say I'm completely sold on polenta after this dish, but it's definitely a nice change in pace in starchy accompaniments, such as a rice or pasta.

Parmesan Polenta and Spicy Sausage Sauce

Adapted from: Cooking Light, May 2011

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces (2 links) jalapeño chicken sausage, sliced
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
2 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
3/4 cup quick-cooking polenta
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated and divided

Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook for 3 minutes, or until browned. Add onion to pan, sautéing for 5 minutes, or until tender. Stir in garlic, cooking for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add oregano, pepper, and tomatoes with juice. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in basil. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until sauce thickens.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over high heat, bring the broth and water to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in polenta. Simmer for 5 minutes, whisking frequently, until thick and smooth. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.

Serve 2/3 cup polenta topped with 3/4 cup sauce. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese.

Serves: 4

I wasn't sure what to expect with a tomato sauce mixed with polenta, but in the end, I think it worked for me. The polenta was thick and filling, which paired well with a bit thinner and lighter sauce. My favorite part of the dish, however, was actually the sausage. The original recipe called for a sun-dried tomato chicken sausage (which I couldn't find), but I think without a spicy sausage, the heat from the red pepper flakes just provide a very one dimensional level of flavor.

As a side note, the sauce heats up fairly well the next day. The polenta? Not so much, I'd pass on doing another re-heat of that part of the dish.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 253Calories from fat 72
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.0g12%
Saturated Fat 2.9g15%
Cholesterol 14mg5%
Sodium 467mg19%
Total Carbs 36.3g12%
Fiber 6.2g25%
Sugars 6.8g
Protein 11.0g
Vitamin A 38%Vitamin C 49%
Calcium 18%Iron 6%


  1. Mmm this looks absolutely delicious and I love that you put the calorie content :) I'll definitely be trying this!

  2. Mmm I love polenta, I've found if you add some water when reheating and stir halfway through it comes out ok. Im adding this to my list to make too.

  3. I've made polenta just a few times, but I think I need to make it again with sausage. This looks great.

  4. A very simple and delicious looking dish

  5. This looks so good! I wish I had all of the ingredients so I could make it tonight! It'll just have to wait til tomorrow : )

  6. I'm crazy for polenta and your sausage sauce would be such a great way to top it. Usually if we have polenta leftover, I cut it into squares and toast it a little before adding sauce.

  7. I can't believe you waited this long to have polenta! I grew up on this stuff. :) Now I just have to pair it up with some sausage and give this yummy recipe a try!

  8. This dish looks amazing! I love polenta and the hubby loves sausage, so I def need to make this.

  9. Take the leftover polenta, form into patties, and fry it up so it is crispy on the outside, then drizzle the sauce over top. A much better way to enjoy polenta leftovers! (I also usually add a little cream to my polenta to make it extra rich when I first make it. Oh, and a little butter. :)



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