Regarding the Food Network, I like to eat more like Giada, but today I feel more like a mix between Sandra Lee and Rachael Ray. This meal is semi-homemade and takes about 30 minutes! One of the reasons it’s so quick is because I used a bottled sauce. It’s awesome though, Mother Earth Organic Tomato Basil imported from Italy. I would not use most bottled sauces as they really are not very good. If you can’t find Mother Earth Organic (at Whole Food’s and locally in the health section at Hy-Vee), Lucini’s Creamy Tomato Ricotta sauce is excellent as well! I also like to make my own sauces but it’s just hard to find the time sometimes! Of course, if you have the time, make your favorite sauce! This was so good the first time that I had to make it twice in one week just so I could take a picture of it and post! The first time I made it I used the remainder of the local American Italian Heritage Society’s sausages, which are amazing but alarmingly full of fat. I swear it’s 50%. I can’t stand chewing on fat and end up spitting it into my napkin. So, the second time I made it (pictured), I bought the sweet Italian turkey sausage made without hormones or pesticides. Much healthier! However, with less fat, I do prefer the flavor of the good stuff the local Italians make!
If you’ve never made polenta before, don’t be intimidated because it’s super-easy. But done right, it’s a little time consuming. You can buy regular corn meal, but I like to buy the medium to course grind corn grits which just takes a little while longer to soften, but it brings a different texture dimension to the polenta. Also, you can make your polenta with just water, but I prefer to use chicken broth. It only adds a little bit of flavor, it won’t taste like chicken broth, but what it adds always goes with what I’m making! By the way, I like my polenta soft, not hard. Most people think polenta comes in tubes that you slice and fry. I’ve tried that before and didn’t like it at all! You can make your polenta soft, and then you can fry the leftovers the next day if you want! It tastes a million times better than the store-bought tubes. Part of my reasoning for making it purple (using blue cornmeal) other than the usual added antioxidants in colorful food, is that my son lately will eat purple food. It’s funny, he won’t eat carrots or peppers, but will happily munch on purple carrots or purple peppers, which are milder than the green variety. Sure enough, he chowed on this meal, but won’t eat yellow or white polenta! My husband and I like to drizzle extra virgin olive oil (I’m partial to evoo from Spain) on top of most of our Italian dishes, and it’s really cute because our son will wait eagerly for his olive oil drizzle before digging into his food. However, he still steals my plate and eats my food because it’s most always better than his…even though it’s exactly the same.
Ingredients: (for 3, double for 4-6 people)
- 1 cup blue cornmeal…yes it is called blue, but it looks purple to me! Lavender to be exact. Lavender Polenta doesn’t sound very good though.
- 3-4 cups chicken broth or water, for simplicity, I buy the 4 cup boxed organic chicken broth and usually use most of the box.
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano – the imported real stuff tastes better than regular Parmesan (without the reggiano behind the name)
- Olive oil
- 1/2 jar (Mother Earth Organic tomato basil sauce) jar sauce
- 3 turkey Italian sausages – sweet or spicy
- 1 TB butter
- salt to taste
- lemon basil or basil – lemon basil is delicious- it’s basil that tastes like a little lemon rind flavor found its way in, that’s what I used, again from the farmer’s market
- Boil 3 cups chicken broth, whisk in blue cornmeal, add butter and reduce to simmer. This needs to be babysat, constantly whisking and stirring the mixture which will bubble. If it gets tough to stir, add a little more chicken broth
- Meanwhile, on a skillet on medium-high with a little bit of butter or butter spray, brown the edges of the sausage, continue cooking for about 10 minutes, remove from heat and slice sausage and return to skillet – until sausage is cooked through and browned nicely on the sides. If there there is liquid leftover from the sausage that doesn’t cook down, just drain it
- (remember to stir polenta) reduce sausage skillet heat to low and after a couple of minutes add the sauce, rip up some lemon basil or basil leaves, about 7-10 and stir in with the sauce
- After about 30 minutes of the polenta cooking – do a taste test and make sure that it has softened – it shouldn’t be crunchy but it still has some depth to it, turn off the heat, add1/3-1/2 cup parm, a drizzle of olive oil (1tsp-1tbsp), salt to taste
- Serve polenta on plate and top with desired amount of sauce with sausage, top with freshly grated parm and drizzle with olive oil.
My favorite way to eat polenta is with rabbit and gravy but it’s very time consuming. I’ll make sure to post a recipe for that eventually. From many of my friends, I get asked to make some less “healthy” things – see, this would qualify even though it’s healthy! They’re basically asking me to sometimes not bake foods with scary sounding ingredients:) Well, I hope this is less scary for you!