Monday, May 12, 2008

Polenta Sausage Mozzarella Casserole.

Lately I've been kind of obsessed with polenta. I keep planning meals with polenta but then I get scared that Spencer will hate it so I forget that idea and order pizza. When I saw this recipe for polenta lasagna on Simply Recipes I promised myself that I'd actually make it. I mean, it has sausage and we love sausage.

This was my first time using my broiler. Scary scary. I had no idea how to even turn it on but I eventually figured it out and all was well. I've even used the broiler a couple times since then so I'd say I successfully conquered my fear.

Once Spencer got over the idea of eating "grits with spaghetti sauce" he liked it. Not enough to eat leftovers, but he didn't complain. Landon and I both enjoyed it and finished off the whole pan within a couple days.

I won't make it again since Spencer wasn't a huge fan but if I was going to, I'd cut back on the polenta. I made my own with 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal and about 6 cups of chicken broth and it was way too much. I think a cup of cornmeal would be a good amount.

Polenta Sausage Mozzarella Casserole

5 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 med yellow onion, halved lengthwise then cut into wedges
1 medium bell pepper (red, green, orange or yellow), cut lengthwise into thin slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound Italian sausage (removed from casings), sweet or spicy
2 pounds of prepared polenta, 1/2-inch slices if using prepared polenta in a tube
1/2 pound (8 ounces) fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch slices

Preheat oven broiler on high. Heat 3 Tbsp of oil in a 2-3 qt saucepan on medium heat. Add tomatoes and oregano, simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes.

While the tomatoes are cooking, in a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, stirring and breaking it into small pieces as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Cover the pan and cook until vegetables are tender and the sausage is cooked through, about 5-8 more minutes. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, coat the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan with a 1 Tbsp oil. Add the cooked polenta (or slices) to the pan. Coat the top of the polenta with the remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil. Broil the polenta about 4 inches from the heating element until golden brown and crispy, about 10-15 minutes.

Pour sauce over broiled polenta, then arrange Mozzarella slices over the top and return the casserole to the broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

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