You know what’s awesome about food that looks impressive? When it’s really easy to make.
I made shrimp tacos with corn salsa the other day. I hadn’t really thought about how impressive that sounded until I told my mom about it, and she regaled me with a recipe she’d been planning to use but never had time for. It included a roasted chile, marinade, even the queso sauce, and it sent her expectations of what shrimp tacos entailed skyrocketing.
My shrimp tacos? Frozen precooked shrimp sprinkled with a spice-mix/olive oil marinade and left to thaw in the fridge. Remove tails, warm up in a frying pan, serve with fixin’s. Done.
That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a labor-intensive culinary undertaking every once in a while. I haven’t made Indian-phyllo chicken since I blogged about it, but I’ve never forgotten how delicious it was. In my day-to-day cooking, though, I’m always looking for the quickest, easiest ways to a tasty, satisfying dinner.
I’d made the original version of this particular recipe before, but it was time-consuming and, unlike the Indian chicken, not as rewarding once it was finally finished. There were things about the recipe I didn’t like much, either, primarily the ratio of polenta to everything else. Even though I halved the recipe and still used the full amount of polenta, there barely seemed to be enough. Since polenta is delicious, I can’t imagine using only one tube of polenta for the full Costco recipe. (Polenta doesn’t look like a word anymore.) (Speaking of polenta, I made it from scratch once. It wasn’t that scary!)
This time, I was determined to make a faster, but equally delicious version. I knew I’d succeeded when Kevin went back for seconds and said “We need to put this on the make-once-a-month list.”
I subbed faster-cooking ground sausage for the original in-casing variety. I added onions because Kevin likes onions and I like the way giant chunks of onions roast, even if I’m not wild about the taste. I omitted the broth and the balsamic, although a drizzle on top would have been tasty.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t, uh, measure much when I cook. This recipe will be extremely rough. I believe cooking is both collaborative and very personal, so if you want to add or swap out, use more or less, or completely reformat, I would not be offended!
Sausage & Roasted Vegetables Over Polenta (adapted from Italian Sausage with Roasted Tomatoes and Polenta, “A Decade of Cooking The Costco Way”)
1 tube precooked polenta
4-6 Roma tomatoes (more if not using onions)
1 onion (optional)
1 lb ground Italian sausage
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Cook the sausage until browned, adding the garlic during the last 5 minutes. (I tried to roast it with the onions and tomatoes per the original recip, but that just resulted in overwhelming mouthfuls of garlic.)
Quarter the tomatoes and roughly chop the onions. Arrange on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, roasting 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees, until they start to soften but aren’t fully roasted yet.
Slice the polenta into quarter-inch rounds and arrange in the bottom of a 2-qt rectangular baking dish.
Top with the sausage-garlic mix, sprinkle with half the Parmesan, and top with tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan and bake 5-10 minutes.