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.
This recipe is amazing!! I loved it and can't wait to make it again. I had never used prepared polenta before. It was very easy to do. Just had to ask where to find it in the market. Only change I made to the recipe was that I doubled the red chili flakes because I used a sweet pork Italian sausage and I like things a little spicier than recipes normally call out.
Great dish and super easy. I prepared it just as written and it was a hit with us as well as our 7 and 4 year old. The only thing I added was fresh basil on top when I took it out of the oven. I am hoping the leftovers will be good as well. This was a nice change from the usual pasta bake.
This was a delicious, hearty meal. We made our own Polenta using a super simple Giada De Laurentiis recipe and added in garlic powder and Parmesan to that. Also, instead of using the 5 1/2 tbsp of oil and broiling them, it is much easier to use a non-stick pan and a tiny bit of butter and just brown them up in the pan (making sure to flip, so both sides get that crunch). I also added garlic powder and a tiny bit of sugar to the tomato sauce. We used a venison sausage and didn't have to worry about removing casings, which saved time. You can read our whole review at One Couple's Kitchen!
I made this using chopped up Italian Style smart sausage (a lower calorie vegetarian sausage) and shredded cheese. I used about half a cup of reduced fat shredded cheddar and half a cup of mozzerella... Aside from that I didn't make any major changes to the recipe except that I cut it in half.
I did have a lot of trouble getting my polenta rounds to crisp up. They never got brown and crispy and I broiled them probably three times as long as it said. Finally just gave up and poured the sauce on. It was still amazing and I bet I saved at least 100 calories per serving with my adjustments.
This was quite good. We'll be using a lower fat meat next time but it sure tasted good. I think next time we'll add more peppers for more veggies. I bought bulk polenta corn meal instead and it was much cheaper than the tubes of prepared polenta. A little more work but it'll be fresher.