Cutting the time it takes to fix polenta

DINNER TONIGHT

December 07, 2005|By JOE GRAY | JOE GRAY,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

We love polenta, that Northern Italian cornmeal dish that is adaptable to so many uses. But who has time for all that stirring for a quick weeknight dinner? Not us. Instead, we use fast-cooking versions, which aren't bad at all.

We tried this recipe using the precooked version sold in a tube and a boxed variety; both worked well.

The polenta is cooked with broth to become somewhat soupy, then topped with a simple tomato sauce studded with precooked chicken sausages and wilted greens. It all makes for a soul-satisfying dish on cold nights, but without a lot of fat.

Joe Gray writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the analysis for the recipe.

Polenta With Chicken Sausage and Hearty Sauce

4 servings -- Total time: 31 minutes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 can (32 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes, roughly chopped, with juice

1 teaspoon salt (divided use)

freshly ground pepper

1 package (18 ounces) precooked polenta

1 cup chicken broth

1 package (9 ounces) cooked chicken sausages, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

1 pound spinach, stemmed, chopped

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add the garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute; add chopped tomatoes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste; lower heat to low. Cook sauce until it thickens, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice polenta into large chunks. Place polenta and 1/2 cup of the broth in a large skillet over medium heat. Continue smashing chunks and stirring until polenta is smooth and soupy; add remaining 1/2 cup broth. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook on low until warmed through, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the sausage into the tomato sauce; cook until sausage is heated through. Lay spinach on top to steam. Cook, covered, until spinach is just wilted, 10 minutes. Stir spinach into the sauce. Divide the polenta among 4 bowls; top with sauce.

Per serving: 365 calories; 15 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 50 milligrams cholesterol; 36 grams carbohydrate; 19 grams protein; 1,735 milligrams sodium; 4 grams fiber

Menu Suggestion

Polenta with chicken sausage and hearty sauce

Olives marinated with orange zest

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