Cutting the time it takes to fix polenta



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

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