This simple casserole makes a comforting weeknight dinner as the weather turns cooler. Using ready-made polenta saves you the step of making it from scratch, and our quick tomato sauce can be cooked in just 25 minutes. All you need is a fresh green salad and a loaf of crusty Italian bread to round out the meal.
5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 medium yellow onion, halved lengthwise, then cut into thin wedges
1 medium yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, cut lengthwise into thin slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon each salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red chile flakes
1 pound bulk Italian sausage, sweet or spicy (or 1 lb. Italian sausage links removed from their casings)
2 tubes (16 oz. each) prepared polenta, sliced into 1/2-in.-thick rounds
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained and sliced into 1/4-in.-thick rounds
How to Make It
Preheat broiler to high. Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a 2- to 3-qt. saucepan set over medium heat, then add tomatoes and oregano and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and chile flakes, and stir to combine. Cover pan, lower heat to medium, and cook until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add sausage, stirring and breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it firms up, about 5 minutes. Cover pan and cook until vegetables are tender and sausage is cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes more. Add tomato sauce and simmer 10 minutes.
While sauce is cooking, pour remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. oil into a 9- by 13-in. baking pan and tilt to coat bottom. Add polenta slices to pan and turn to coat with oil, then arrange slices lengthwise in 3 slightly overlapping rows. Broil polenta about 4 in. from heating element until golden brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes.
Pour sauce over broiled polenta, then arrange mozzarella slices over the top. Broil until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
Prepared polenta is sold in most major supermarkets; look in the Italian-food aisle (where pastas and sauces are sold) or in the refrigerated section.