Tag Archives: polenta

Simple and Satisfying – Butternut Squash Polenta with Sausage and Onion

I always seem to forget about polenta. It’s not something I do on purpose, it’s just not a dish that I think of very often to make and then I realize just how versatile and great-tasting it can be. Sean was just saying to me the other day that we had not had polenta in a long time and he was right. I couldn’t even remember the last I made it and we always have some around the house to make. Polenta, much like it is with rice, oatmeal, grits and the like, is so great because you can add lots of things to it to bring out even greater flavors. That’s what I really liked about this particular recipe from the New York Times for butter nut squash polenta with sausage and onion. It makes great use of one of my favorite fall vegetables by incorporating it into the creamy polenta, adding another great layer of flavor and texture to the polenta itself.

Butternut Squash Polenta with Sausage and Onion

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed

1 bay leaf

1 cup fine polenta (not quick cooking)

1 cup seeded and peeled butternut squash, coarsely grated

3 tablespoons butter

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed

1 1/2 pounds sweet or hot Italian pork sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

2 teaspoons minced rosemary

2 onions, peeled, halved and sliced into 1/4-inch half moons

1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

Rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)

In a large pot set over medium-high heat, combine 4 1/2 cups of water, the kosher salt and the bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil and then slowly whisk in the polenta. Stir in the butternut squash to the polenta. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the polenta and the squash are very tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. If the mixture is getting too thick while cooking, add a little bit more water to the pot to thin it out. Stir in the butter and the black pepper. Taste the polenta and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if it is needed.

While the polenta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the Italian sausage, the rosemary and the fennel seeds (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is golden and cooked through, about 7 to 10 minutes. You can cook the sausages in batches if necessary, adding more olive oil to the pan if the pan looks dry. Transfer the sausages to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Add more olive oil to the skillet if it looks dry and then add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Return the sausage to the pan and stir it together with the onions to heat the sausage through. Spoon the polenta into bowls and top it with the sausage and onion and garnish with the rosemary sprigs if you like.

It’s a very simple meal that packs some great flavor and is very satisfying. I love the way the squash and the polenta worked together here and it gave the polenta great texture and color. The sausages went really well with the polenta and the whole meal only takes about 30 minutes to cook. If you have polenta left, it sets really nicely when it is chilled and you can cut it into squares and saute it up as a side dish for all kinds of meals if you like. This is a great easy meal for a busy weeknight when you want something quick to put together and I think it would work well with just about any type of fall squash that you might want to use.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!


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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Pork, Vegetables


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Side Dish or Main Dish – Polenta with Roasted Vegetables

I saw this recipe from Williams-Sonoma about 2 weeks ago and knew I wanted to give it a try. I have been trying to introduce more things polenta into our meals to cut back on starches like potatoes, bread and white rice. Sean isn’t exactly thrilled with it so far, so I try to do things with it to make it a little more palatable to him. This recipe could easily be a main course on its own if you wanted a vegetarian meal or you can use it as a side dish for a meal, which is what I did.

Polenta with Roasted Vegetables

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the pans

1 small eggplant, cunt into 3/4-inch pieces

2 small zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

2 small yellow squash, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1/2 red onion, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup stone ground cornmeal (polenta)

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Oil a rimmed baking sheet and an 8-inch baking dish with olive oil

In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, red onion and bell pepper. Drizzle with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast, tossing once, until the vegetables are caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set the vegetables aside and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Stirring constantly, very slowly add the polenta. Cook, stirring constantly, until the polenta begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking the polenta, stirring frequently, until the polenta is soft, about 25 minutes. Add the butter and Parmesan  cheese and stir until the cheese has melted. Pour the polenta into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top.

Bake the polenta just until it begins to set, about 15 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and top the polenta evenly with the roasted vegetables. Place the polenta back in the oven and continue to bake it until the vegetables are heated through, about 15 minutes. Serve the polenta directly from the dish.

I did change a few things about the original recipe. The original recipe also calls for 2 cups of Fontina cheese to be added at the same time as the Parmesan. I did not have any on hand, so I just used the Parmesan instead and I think it turned out fine. Since I am not a cheese eater, this was more than enough for me but you may like it even better with the Fontina. Also, I did not use the eggplant or the pepper. Michelle and Sean are not big eggplant fans, so I omitted it from the recipe and used extra zucchini and squash instead. I also did not have an orange pepper so I added a diced carrot instead for similar color. You could easily make this as a main course for a meal and it would be quite filling. We have leftovers to use as side dishes for other meals this week. I loved the creaminess of the polenta and the vegetables added just the right texture and flavor to the dish.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for some more recipes I have been working on. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!




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Posted by on September 5, 2013 in Cooking, Dinner, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian


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It’s a Calamari Friday

Okay, admittedly, a lot of people don’t care for calamari. I think the biggest problem is that in a lot places, it’s not cooked correctly. If you’re served overcooked calamari, you may as well eat a plate of pencil erasers, because the taste is just about the same. So many places give you rubbery pieces that I can understand why people don’t like it. However, if you cook it correctly, it is incredibly tasty and a great treat. Heck, if my 11-year-old likes it, anybody will eat it. Here’s the rule I learned about squid – you either cook it for 2 minutes or 2 hours. Squid has to be cooked really quickly (it’s nearly impossible to undercook it) or it needs to braised for a longer period of time to make it tender.This is a great recipe that I came across in the New York Times yesterday that will make a great meal, and it doesn’t take long to cook at all. The polenta actually takes longer than the rest of the meal, but you can also use the quick-cook polenta, and that can be done is a little as 5 minutes.

Calamari With Herbs And Polenta


Salt to taste

1 cup cornmeal

2 tablespoons butter, optional

Freshly ground black pepper


1 1/2 pounds cleaned squid

Salt and pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon chopped marjoram

2 tablespoons chopped mint

A splash of white wine, about 2 tablespoons

1/2 cup chopped parsley

3 tablespoons chopped scallions

Lemon wedges, optional

Cook the polenta. Bring 5 cups salted water to a boil in a small pot. Pour in the cornmeal, stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon until it thickens, about 2 minutes. Turn the flame to low and cook for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter, if using, and a little freshly ground pepper. Serve warm from the pot, or pour into a pan, allow to firm up and cut into wedges(this is what I am doing). Re-heat for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Cut the squid bodies into 1/2-inch rings. Cut the tentacles in pieces or leave whole if small. Rinse, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat until the oil looks wavy. Carefully add the squid (it will spatter) and stir to coat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, marjoram and mint and cook, stirring all the while, for 1 minute, until the squid rings have puffed up and look opaque. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute more. Turn off the heat. Add the parsley and scallions and serve immediately with the accumulated pan juices and lemon wedges if desired.

If you don’t want to serve this with polenta, pasta or rice will go just as well with this dish. I would also serve this with some garlic bread and perhaps some sautéed spinach to round out the meal.

I had hoped to have next week’s meal plan in place already to post, but we’re still trying to decide on meals for a couple of the days, so I should have that tomorrow to post along with tomorrow’s dinner. I am planning to make a roast chicken, but I will vary the recipe a little from the one I have posted previously. If you would like to see the previous recipe for roast chicken, you can find it here. Also, if you would to make your own meal plan you can use this file:family_meal_planner. As always, if you have any questions, comments or recipes you would like to see, just let me know. Until tomorrow, enjoy your meal!


Posted by on March 2, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Seafood


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Savoring Some Vegetable Soup

It’s hard to believe that it’s actually February based on how the weather has been here in New York. It’s been a beautiful day here, but we’ll pretend it really is winter and make some soup today. This soup is from Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network. It looked really good when she made it, so I thought I would give it a try and it fit nicely this week since we needed something for our meat-free meal this week. This recipe for Rustic Vegetable and Polenta Soup has few ingredients, only takes about 20 minutes to make, and only uses one pot. We’ll be having some crunchy dinner rolls from Rockland Bakery with our soup tonight. Anyone who lives in this area of New York (and many other places as well) knows how good the breads and rolls are at Rockland Bakery. The recipe calls for instant polenta in it, which only takes minutes to cook and it adds a nice, creamy texture to this soup.

Rustic Vegetable and Polenta Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed or chopped

3 plum tomatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

2 medium zucchini, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

4 cups chicken broth (I am using homemade [remember the chicken from Saturday?], but store-bought low sodium is fine)

1/3 cup instant polenta

3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 6 minutes.

Add the parsley, thyme, garlic, tomatoes and zucchini, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in the polenta and cook until the soup thickens and the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.

That’s a fast and easy meal (and it smells great by the way). This recipe is only for 4 servings, so if you want more, you could easily double the recipe to have extra for a bigger meal. With this meal, there is only 1 pot to clean, and the soup bowls, and that’s it, the meal is done, cleaned up and put away so you can go on with the rest of your evening.

I feel like I cheated today since there is hardly anything to write about with this recipe. Tomorrow’s recipe, another Sean choice, is Stir-Fried Pork with Peppers and Pineapple. I’ll be using pork loin for the meat and canned pineapple. The fresh pineapple just didn’t feel good, so I went with canned this time. Make sure you get the canned in juice and not syrup if you’re making this because you’ll need the juice as well. We’ll be making Fried Rice tomorrow night too to go with the meal. If you don’t want to make rice specifically for fried rice, if you have any leftovers from last night’s stir fry (or from any other meal you have had rice in), use that since it’s already cooked and chilled. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or recipes you might like to see, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Enjoy the soup and all the extra free time you have since the meal cooks so quickly (I may get to read a bit tonight!) and check in tomorrow to see the next Sean meal!


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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Soups & Stews, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian


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