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Quick Parmesan Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes

Quick Parmesan Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes - Cooking In Cleveland
Quick Parmesan Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes

AKA a really great way to disguise that you’re eating mostly veggies for dinner…

Sometimes you arrive at a Sunday evening and realize that you’ve eaten like crap the entire weekend–too many pieces of bacon at brunch, maybe a margarita or two (or five?) too many, and perhaps a couple of burgers or cheese plates?  (Burgers are my love language, don’t judge.)  You feel like crap, you’re sluggish, and you realize that you need to shovel some veggies into your body asap or risk your pants not buttoning Monday morning when you’re headed to the office.  No?  Just me?

If you’re like me and have ever had “that kind” of a Sunday, this dinner is for you.  It’s an extremely delicious yet healthy way to start your week–yet it seems decadent.

So, lets talk ingredients.  Most of these are pantry staples for us.  I keep spinach on hand every week for breakfast smoothies (post coming soon).

Parmesan is a staple in our household and something you’ll see me incorporate into recipes fairly frequently.  I’m lactose intolerant and parmesan cheese is one of the few cheeses with a low lactose level that makes it tolerable for me.  However, when I say “parmesan cheese” let me be very clear that I mean you need to buy the brick of parmesan and shred your own parmesan fresh while cooking.  “Sprinkle parmesan” is NOT real parmesan!  This is something that i’m very passionate about–you need to be cooking real food with real ingredients!  Life is too short to eat bullshit faux-cheese.  Ok, rant over.

Polenta is an extremely cheap, easy, delicious, and under-utilized grain.  This bag cost something like $3.29, is organic, and you use less than half of the bag for this dish.  Talk about affordable!

Next, we use a small amount of butter in this dish to add creaminess to the polenta.  You really should consider using unsalted butter.  I don’t care what brand.  Personally, I use Heinens Unsalted Butter.  The main point is that there are no standards when it comes to salt level in salted butter.  This makes the salt level very volatile in your recipes when you’re using salted butter–it’s just not worth it.  Why not just use unsalted butter and add your own sea salt to taste?

Roasted tomatoes are an awesome way to add some sweetness and veggies to any meal.  I used some local Tomz red grape tomatoes in this dish.  These are grown in Ohio and easily found in my local Heinen’s grocery store.

The very last ingredient I used was some Al Fresco Chicken Sausage in the Sweet Italian flavor.  These are low fat, gluten free, fully cooked chicken sausages.  All you need to do is heat them up.  Normally in other months i’d prefer to throw these on the grill.  Cleveland in winter?  They’re perfectly delicious sliced into bite sized pieces and pan seared til golden.

Now ready to for the full recipe?

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg Al Fresco Sweet Italian Style Chicken Sausage (sliced into bite sized pieces)
  • 1 pkg Tomz red grape tomatoes
  • 6 cups Water
  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Polenta
  • 3 tbsp Unsalted Butter (cut into pieces)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan shredded thin (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/2 bag Baby Spinach

Directions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Toss the tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a sheet pan and roast for 10-15 minutes or until the skins begin to burst.  Make sure you toss after 5 minutes or so to make sure everything is evenly distribtuted.  Once the skins begin to burst on all tomatoes, remove from the oven and sit them aside.
  • While the tomatoes are in the oven, bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a deep pan.  Add a generous amount of salt (approx 1/2 tsp) to season the water.

  • Once the water is boiling, add in two cups of the polenta.  Turn down the heat to bring the polenta to a low simmer.  Make sure you stir this frequently.  Polenta splatters easily and I tend to use a splatter guard when making polenta just to keep my stove (and self) spot free.
  • Simmer the polenta approximately 15 minutes or until it’s thickened.  Bob’s Red Mill calls for a 30 minute simmer, but this makes the polenta very thick and I prefer a creamier polenta with this dish.
  • Add in the butter to the polenta, stir, turn off the heat and cover it with a lid to keep warm/let the butter melt.  Right before serving, stir in the parmesan and let melt.

  • In another sauté pan, heat olive oil over a medium to high heat.  Add the sliced chicken sausage.  Allow the chicken sausage to brown before flipping (around 2-3 minutes per side depending on the heat level).  The key with browning meat is to NOT MOVE it around a lot–it will release from the pan naturally when done.  You can use one slice of the chicken sausage to check “done-ness” but don’t flip everything please.

 

 

  • Once you flip the chicken sausage, add in half the bag of baby spinach and cover with a lid.  Allow to steam for about 2 minutes, turn off the heat and stir.  Your spinach should be wilted and the other side of the chicken sausage should have a nice sear on it.

  • To serve, place the polenta in the bottom of the dish, add sausage and spinach and top with the roasted tomatoes and extra parmesan.

Ready to talk wine?

Some people have a certain wine that they gravitate towards.  It might be that “sweet white” or “dry red”.  I’m a full believer in being an equal opportunity wine drinker.  I think that when you pair the right wine with the right food, everything is elevated.  For this dish, I chose to do one of my favorite Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs.

Sound fancy?  This bottle was $12.99 on sale at my local Heinen’s.  Point blank: Oregon Pinot Noirs are earthy, funky, unexpected, and pair amazingly well with a broad plethora of foods.  They’re not your typical Pinot, and they’re a fun but light take on a red wine.  The rich earthy tones of the wine help to ground the spinach and tomatoes.  The milder acidic flavor helps to complement with tomatoes and parmesan without overwhelming your palette.  I highly recommend this wine, not just for this meal, but in general.  It’s a nice funky medium bodied red wine.  Let me know what you think.

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3 Comments
  • Diann Zyra says:

    Amazing!! I will expect this meal on our next visit to Cleveland. Your commentary is spot on!! Great job! You may get your own tv show one day!

  • Sally Krayer says:

    So long ago we met and discussed cooking – I’m not the cook, my daughter is – I’m so happy to be able to see some of your favorite recipes .. this one sounds yummy. Thanks for sharing … Congrats also on all the exciting things happening in your life – he’s a real cutie 😃

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Rachel Gatalica

Welcome to Cooking in Cleveland! I want to share delicious, healthy and approachable recipes with you. I want to help highlight local Cleveland artisans and events and put a focus on using local foods!
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  • This week on Cooking In Cleveland, i’m sharing a really healthy and quick dinner that is equal parts filling and delicious.  I’m also talking a little bit about the #Whole30 challenge that we’re in the middle of and being honest about some of the highs and lows we’ve experienced on the plan.

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