Last Friday, during the weekly happy hour in which my museum coworkers and I descend upon an unsuspecting bar and proceed to mix alcohol and nerdiness, I had an insanely delicious snack of fried polenta with tomato sauce. Insanely delicious and insanely easy, so here you go.
*As always, these are rough measurements. Life is too short for teaspoons outside of cake baking. Just eyeball it and go crazy
- Polenta – You can make your own a la Master Chef, or you can buy your own a la Katie
- 1 Jar of Tomato Sauce, with 1 Cup Reserved – There was a time I made my own tomato sauce. That time was called unemployment. Now I use Bertolli’s Organic Olive Oil, Basil and Garlic and it is all kinds of deicious
- 1/2 lb Sausage - if you eat of the meat
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1/2 Cup Cottage Cheese - trust me
- 2-3 Cups Chopped Spinach - depending on how Popeye-y you want to go
- Assorted Spices, e.g. Garlic, Cayenne, Red Pepper Flakes, Basil, Thyme, and Black Pepper
- Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 450° F
- If you’re making your own polenta, follow polenta-making instructions and get to a place where you can cut the polenta into slices/rounds/etc.
- If you bought pre-made polenta, slice it up. I put my tube of polenta in the freezer half an hour before I began to firm it up pre-slice
- Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with olive oil
- Place polenta slices in the baking dish, and spray with more olive oil. This allows you to “fry” the polenta
- Sprinkle basil and garlic on top of the polenta, even though you bought the basil and garlic flavored polenta to begin with. Remind yourself that holding back on the basil and garlic means the Communists win
- Bake the polenta. Note: The original recipe I found for “frying” polenta in the oven recommended baking for 20 minutes. It took almost an hour for mine to become crispy. Do I have a lousy oven? Possibly. But I say just eyeball it and take the polenta out when it looks brown and crispy. Like this:
Fancy Tomato Sauce Directions:
- Slice and saute sausage
- Slice and saute one red bell pepper in leftover sausage-y goodness
- Blend sauteed bell pepper and 1 cup tomato sauce
- Add bell pepper-tomato sauce, the rest of the tomato sauce, the cooked sausage, the chopped spinach, and the cottage cheese (seriously, trust me) into a pot, along with whatever spices you chose.
- Heat the sauce up, and pour on top of the polenta
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese!
Cottage Cheese Note: What’s the deal with the cottage cheese? I discovered one evening, while trying to make lasagna and being too lazy to go to the store to get ricotta, that cottage cheese in tomato sauce is really good. The two combined create a rose-style sauce, and since the cheese curds don’t melt they add a great flavor and texture to the sauce.