Polenta Sausage Mozzarella Casserole
My father found this recipe in a recent Sunset Magazine and it sounded so good he just had to try it. He even made the polenta from scratch instead of using the store-bought prepared version which the original recipe called for. (How cool is that?) Polenta with an Italian sausage tomato sauce, topped with Mozzarella – of course it was great. You can substitute turkey sausage for the Italian sausage or even skip the sausage and use chopped zucchini instead for a vegetarian option. Here is our slightly-modified-from-the-original version.
This recipe is for a "sweet" version of this casserole, meaning not spicy. For a picante version, use hot Italian sausage and use red pepper flakes instead of the fennel seeds.
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (removed from casings)
- 2 pounds of prepared polenta, 1/2-inch slices if using prepared polenta in a tube (can use one recipe of creamy polenta, leave out the cream cheese)
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 Heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a large (2-3 qt) saucepan on medium heat. Add the sliced onion and sausage and sauté, stirring often, until the meat is browned. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and fennel seeds to the sauté pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the tomato, cover the pan, lower the heat to medium, and simmer for 20 minutes.
2 While the sauce is cooking, coat the bottom of a 9x13-inch lasagna or gratin pan (a pan that can handle the heat of a broiler) with a 1 Tbsp oil. Add the cooked polenta (or slices) to the pan. Coat the top of the polenta with a little more olive oil. Broil the polenta about 4 inches from the heating element until golden brown and crispy, about 10-15 minutes.
3 Pour sauce over broiled polenta, then arrange mozzarella slices over the top and return the casserole to the broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.