In my everyday life, one of the most frequent obstacles I find myself up against these days is time. I have no idea where people find their free time, extra time and empty time but I can tell you that This Girl has yet to find that eternal spring of availability. That being said, my biggest challenge is finding a delicious and FAST meal that I can prepare for dinner and get it on the table in record speed while still feeling good about the meal I have set out to serve. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE cooking and if I could, I would probably spend most of my day doing nothing but creating amazing food. Enter Reality. I have a grown up job.. and this website.. and Big Scary Mike.. and four dogs … and laundry.. and floors to mop.. and a house to renovate … etc ..etc.. etc… The lavish lifestyle that consists of nothing but free time and no responsibilities … well, that hasn’t quite kicked in yet. I am just like each of every one of you, dear reader, and that means 1000 shades of busy from start to finish. So when I can bring you a meal that is lightning fast and tastes amazing, I feel like you and I are making strides towards that elusive thing they call “free time”. Did I mention this entire meal is made in ONE pot? You’re liking it more and more already, aren’t you? Me too!
As I have discussed in my Pasta e Fagioli post, I do not have a little Italian grandmother in my back pocket. I am Irish and Cherokee with a splash of Polish. This means that even though I eat enough Italian food where I should at least be considered an honorary member, some foods that may be considered traditional in Italian dishes are still brand new to me. Take polenta for example. The first time I had ever even tasted it was when my niece made it for me one night for dinner and it was so good that it actually became Pack Momma’s very first post, Kendra’s Chicken. Italian sausage is another thing that I did not grow up eating a lot of. That’s not to say that I am a huge fan of it to this day but Mike IS Italian and so I try to add it into sauces and such to make the big guy happy. That’s my job as his Amazing Wife. Just like even though he’s terrified of heights, he hangs Christmas lights on top of our two story house for me (not without MUCH complaint, may I point out) and I feed him what makes him happy in return. It’s all about the trade, my friends.
Italian Sausage Polenta Skillet
You will need:
2 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 17 oz. tube prepared polenta, sliced into 8 – 10 rounds
15 oz sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed (about 3 large links)
4 oz fresh mushrooms, diced
1 sm yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
24 oz jar of your favorite tomato sauce
1 tsp salt / pepper to taste
2 tbl fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbl fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
Loaf of crusty bread
Start by preheating your broiler. Pour your olive oil into a large non stick ovenproof skillet and heat over medium-high heat. (Note to self: Buy a large nonstick oven proof skillet…)
Add your polenta disks to the oil and fry until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Once done, move your disks to a plate and add in your Italian sausage to the pan. Break sausage up as you cook it and when it has browned, add in your mushrooms, onion and garlic.
Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add in your tomato sauce and spices and bring to a low boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and basil and add in your polenta disks to the top of the sauce. Place the mozzarella slices on top of the polenta disks and move your skillet to the oven. Broil until your cheese is melted and browned and bubbly.
This should take 3-5 minutes depending on your oven. Remove (carefully) and sprinkle with parsley. Ring the dinner bell and serve up with some good crusty bread.
From start to finish this meal takes about 20 minutes to make and it is delicious! This would also be very easy to tweak into a vegetarian meal by substituting the sausage with an array of diced vegetables. Either way, this quick dinner is comforting and hearty and gives you back the most important thing there is … time.