Baked Polenta with Sausaged and Mozzarella

Polenta is a nice alternative to pasta and if you choose to use instant polenta the time is make is cut drastically without impacting the taste. So don't turn from polenta is you have time restrants just substitute the instant.  I love making either method of polenta and this recipe is one of my favorites. So flavorful and tasty.



4 cups water
1 1/2 cups coarse polenta
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
fine sea salt

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1(14-ounce)  can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
1/2 pound sausages
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
freshly ground black pepper

Grease a 3 quart baking dish. In a sauce pan combine water, 2 tablespoons oil, bay leaves and 3/4 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil. Slowly add polenta, whisking. Reduce heat to medium and cook whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring is thickened and tender about 40 minutes. Remove bay leaves and discard. If this is too labor intensive use instant polenta which only takes about 4 minutes to make.

Transfer polenta to baking dish. Spread evenly . Let polenta cool completely.  In a large saucepan, heat remaining tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium low and add garlic and eggplant, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.  Add tomatoes with juice, stirring to break up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add wine, sausages, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Simmer uncovered stirring occasionally for about 30-40 minutes. Sauce is reduced to 1 1/2 cups.  Remove from heat.
Heat oven to 400 F.  Remove sausage from sauce and cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds.
Top polenta with prepared sauce spreading to 1/2 inch from edges of polenta. Arrange sausage and mozzarella on top.  Bake until cheese is melted and just starting to brown, about 110-12 minutes. Serve warm with a drizzle of oil and sprinkle with pepper.


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