Oh polenta, how I love you. You are not only creamy and delicious, but easy and quick to boot!
I've gone through my polenta phases in the past and not regretted a single moment, but it had been a long time since I'd answered the siren call of a polenta bowl topped with heaps of happiness.
The inspiration came in the form of some chicken apple sausage I had in the fridge that needed using. What to do with it ... ?
Polenta Bowl with Garlicky Spinach, Veggies & Chicken Sausage
Despite the warmer summer weather a polenta and sausage recipe from The Kitchn was perfect inspiration for the final version I made below. Be sure to check out the original here. It sounds divine.
4 cups chicken stock (or milk or water, but I love stock and the richness it gives to the polenta)
1 cup polenta or cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup goat cheese, shredded cheddar, shredded Parmesan or other cheese (I prefer Parm)
1 small tab of butter (you decide how much is the right amount)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 links chicken sausage, any kind, sliced into coins
3 cloves garlic, minced (2 if you want it less garlicky)
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup diced red pepper
10 ounces baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs (or 1 for each person)
*Cherry tomatoes would be a great addition or sub for the other veggies. I'm just not a huge tomato fan:)
In a 2- to 3-quart saucepan with a lid, bring the stock to a rolling boil. Pour in the polenta while whisking continuously. Stir in the salt and continue whisking until the polenta has thickened slightly. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook the polenta for 10 to 20 minutes, whisking vigorously every 10 minutes. The polenta is done when it is creamy, tastes tender, and has thickened into a porridge.
[Note: My stovetop has a relatively high 'low' setting, so I find that my polenta cooks very quickly and requires lots of stirring. It usually only takes 15 minutes or so. Just be sure to stir and check in.]
Remove the polenta from heat and stir in the cheese and butter until the cheese has melted. Cover the pot and set aside until ready to serve.
When the polenta is about 10 minutes from finishing, prepare the topping. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the chicken sausage, zucchini and peppers.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is browned and golden on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes, and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Cook another 2-3 minutes to let the peppers and zucchini soften.
Sprinkle handfuls of the spinach over the pan, adding more as each handful begins to wilt. Cook until the spinach is wilted and silky, but still bright green. Sprinkle with salt and remove the pan from heat.
Fill a saucepan with about 2 inches of water and set over medium-high heat. Crack each of the eggs into a measuring cup and set near the stove. When the water comes to a rapid simmer, reduce the heat to low and slip the eggs into the water one at a time. Cook for 4 1/2 minutes for runny yolks or 5 1/2 minutes for set yolks. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer directly to polenta bowls.
[Note: You can also fry your egg up very quickly with a bit of butter in a nonstick pan.]
Assemble the bowls while the eggs are cooking. Spoon polenta into the bottom of each individual serving bowl. Lay a scoop of the topping over the polenta. When the eggs are ready, transfer them to the bowls. Sprinkle with extra chili flakes or cheese and serve immediately.
Any leftover polenta will set as it cools, but can be stored and reheated for up to a week; stir a splash of milk or water into the polenta after microwaving to make it creamy again. Store leftover topping separately for up to a week.
This was delicious, satisfying, slightly salty, veggie heavy goodness.
No pictures, but you can imagine a heaping pile of white fluffy polenta covered in vegetables, sausage and an egg for fun.
Even better, this all came together in about 25 minutes total. Seriously.
If you have chicken sausage in the fridge but don't want to turn it into a pasta sauce, I highly recommend this route!