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 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon 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 Cook the onions and sausage in olive oil: 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.
2 Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and fennel seeds to the sauté pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
3 Add the tomato, cover the pan, lower the heat to medium, and simmer for 20 minutes.
4 Broil the cooked polenta: 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 tablespoon of 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.
5 Add sauce, mozzarella, broil again: 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.