Polenta Sausage Mozzarella Casserole

Italian sausage casserole with polenta, Italian sausage, tomato sauce, and Mozzarella cheese.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

Polenta Sausage Mozzarella Casserole Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 6 servings.

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.

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Recipe adapted from a recipe in Sunset Magazine.

Showing 4 of 20 Comments

  • Claire

    Wikpedia says “Polentone” means “polenta eater” (literally “big polenta”) and is a derogatory term sometimes used by Southern Italians to refer to Northern Italians. While not Italian, you could call me Polentone anyday!!! I’d have polenta at my “last meal”! My mother made the Missouri version — made from scratch polenta poured into a glass loaf pan, cooled, then sliced, dipped in salt and peppered flour, fried in butter until crispy. Some ate it with maple syrup but I preferred salt, pepper and butter.

  • Heather

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was a BIG hit. My husband loved it and said he could have eaten the whole thing in one sitting! (I forced him to stop so we could have some for leftovers tomorrow.)

    We particularly like the little kick the sauce gets by adding the red pepper flakes. I also used a spicy Italian sausage so it was really nice and “kicky.”

    I’ve been finding terrific recipes from here for quite a while now. Thanks for consistently sharing these amazing gifts with all of us!

  • emilie

    Is it safe to broil in a glass pan? I’ve heard horror stories about exploding pyrex dishes.

    Here’s an interesting thread on broiling and pyrex at Metafilter. We broil casseroles all the time in our oven without a problem, but that’s probably because it’s a casserole, and the casserole is mediating the heat and because of the casserole there isn’t a big temperature differential throughout the pyrex. That said, if it is a concern, use a metal pan. ~Elise

  • Jeanine

    I made this last night. It had a nice flavor, however I didn’t have any polenta, so I substituted some grits we had at hand–everything looked the same, but the grits didn’t seem to have the same cohesive properties of the polenta, so it ended up a little soupy. Everyone still liked it though!

  • Shiraz

    Is there a substitute for broiling? My oven is missing the tray in the broiler, but I would like to try this recipe.

    You use the broiler to brown the polenta and the cheese in this recipe. If you just use the oven (cook at 400°F until casserole is heated through and cheese is melted), you won’t get the browning, but it will still be good. ~Elise

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Polenta Sausage Mozzarella Casserole