As I was preparing for my Herb Gardening Made Easy class tomorrow at the main branch of the York County Library in Rock Hill, I was looking for my recipes that use rosemary – and found this post – still sitting in “draft” on my website – waiting to be published.
Sometimes, I just have too much going on with my law practice, family, and non-profit interests to capture all the good food I keep creating!
I wish I had shared this earlier, because it is a very easy recipe with flexible proportions. I classified it as a weekend dinner because it takes almost an hour to properly make the polenta. I start by making the polenta first, and while it is cooking, I assemble and begin sautéing the other ingredients. But, if you have my cookbook, Fool a Carnivore, you’ll also find an easy way to make polenta in your slow cooker that is almost as good as the traditional method.
If you are going traditional, it really helps if you can enlist a family member to help you stir the polenta. My husband is a strong and patient polenta stirrer (remember, polenta is just another name for Southern grits), and even our son was willing to help stir when he was younger. (As an aside – I truly think kids love to get involved with cooking, but you need to put them in charge of something for which they are completely responsible. Just remind a younger child to keep a hand – protected by an oven mitt – on the sauce pan handle as he or she stirs.)
I emphatically don’t recommend buying the rolls of pre-made polenta as a short cut. Not only is the pre-made variety very expensive, it just isn’t as tasty as the polenta you can make yourself.
I recently updated this recipe with Field Roast Italian Sausage because I love that product’s taste and texture.
Depending on my audience, I use different cheeses.
- If you’re making this dish for kids, use mozzarella and plenty of it.
- On the other hand, use fresh goat cheese if you’re serving this for an adult dinner party.
- If you are vegan, ditch the cheese completely – this dish has enough flavor to stand on its own without dairy.
I’ve filmed a video of how to make this dish on eHow, so please watch it. It is incredibly easy – and I think it could fool the carnivores in your family. Hope you try it soon!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little more for coating the baking pan
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 2-inch matchsticks
- 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into 2-inch matchsticks
- 1 fennel bulb, tops and base removed, quartered lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced
- 1–2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ½ cup dry white wine or vermouth
- ½ cup vegetable stock
- 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 large fresh rosemary sprigs
- 3–4 Field Roast Italian Sausages, casings removed
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ pound mozzarella, grated or 6–8 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 1 recipe Peppery Parmesan Polenta (see link to recipe in my post)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a large baking dish with a little olive oil or cooking spray.
- If you have an extra hand to stir, prepare the polenta while the fennel is cooking and put it in the prepared baking dish once it is fully cooked.
- Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil. Sauté the onion over low heat 5–6 minutes. Add the peppers, fennel, and garlic and sauté 6–8 minutes more. Add the wine and stock and cook down until the liquid has reduced by half or about 10–12 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, fennel seeds, bay leaf, rosemary sprigs, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. (Keep stirring that polenta!)
- Slice all of the sausages into ½-inch slices and add to the simmering pan. Cook for about 5–8 minutes – make sure the liquid is mostly evaporated.
- Pour the contents of the skillet over the polenta. Bake for 15 minutes.
- If you're making this for kids, sprinkle with grated mozzarella and bake for 5 more minutes. If you're making this for adults, remove the baking dish from the oven and dot the top with small pieces of fresh goat cheese.