Italian Sausage and Mushrooms Over Creamy Polenta

Tonight was the kind of night where I looked up at the clock and noticed that it was almost 6pm and I had no idea what to make for dinner. Oops. To my credit, nobody was famished. Everyone more of less grazed throughout the early afternoon. Lunch didn’t happen at a normal time. Dinner wasn’t really expected, but it was assumed that it would happen eventually.

Looking around, I saw that I had a few things that needed to be used up. Looking at an almost empty bag of coarse ground cornmeal. It seemed like a perfect night for polenta. I usually buy those tubes of prepared polenta at Trader Joes and then bake them up. I wanted something a bit different tonight.

I remember going out for dinner with my parents as a tween in the Loring Park area. The restaurant doesn’t exist anymore, but I still remember the food. The only thing that seemed appealing to my twelve-year-old self, when my parents explained the menu, was a polenta dish. I had never had polenta before, and there must not have been pasta on the menu. Cheese appealed to me. I remember it being served to me, very creamy and cheesy. It was some simple, awesome form of comfort food. I haven’t had it served like that since. I had to make some semblance of it. Eyeing the Italian faux sausages, I decided to chop them up and saute them with mushrooms and garlic, along with some tomatoes, to serve over the creamy polenta. Dinner was perfect. We walked away from the table happy and full.
Italian Faux Sausage Mixture

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 package of Trader Joes Italian Faux Sausage – sliced
1 – 10 oz. package of mushrooms, sliced – I like baby bellas
1 can of diced tomatoes – I use the flavored kind
Basil, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano


4 cups water
1 cup coarse ground corn meal
2 tablespoons butter
lemon pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesean
2 tablespoons grated mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon grated monterey jack cheese
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon ricotta

***Note: You may have noticed the odd assortment of cheeses. I was using some things up. It worked in this dish. You can play around with the cheeses.
To make the polenta:
In a small sauce pan, bring your 4 cups of water to a boil. Add salt to the boiling water. Slowly pour in the corn meal. Whisk the mixture. Add in the butter. Keep whisking. Turn the heat down to bring the corn meal mush to a simmer. Let it simmer for 10 minutes or so – whisk every so often. Before you are ready to serve, add the cheeses and spice mixture to the polenta and stir.
For the sausage mixture:
In a large saute pan, start sauteeing the onion and garlic in some olive oil. Toss in the sausage slices. Saute for 4 minutes or so. Add in the mushrooms. Saute for another 4-5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes. Saute for a bit. Let some of the liquid evaporate off. Stir in the herbs.

Spoon the polenta on to a plate. Serve the sausage mixture over the polenta. Enjoy! I know we did!

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