Planning a menu for three male dinner guests last week, I couldn’t help but envision a sausage-based entree. I considered casseroles, pizzas, and even soups before finding myself at the grocery store with a hankering for cooked cabbage and corn. The delicious result of all this envisioning and hankering was a savory layering of cheesy polenta, caramelized cabbage and fennel, herbed turkey sausage, perky white beans, and a sprinkling of Parmesan. The boys dug it!
Since you can use any kind of cooked polenta you like, I’m not including a specific recipe here. You can simply follow the recipe on your polenta package, or even buy a pre-cooked log. It’s up to you whether you want to serve it creamy or firm—the end result will be delicious either way. (I made The Lazy Gourmet’s Baked Polenta with Mascarpone and Corn (p.143) in a round dish, let it set, and sliced it into wedges.) Sausage choice is a personal decision as well; I picked one that didn’t have too many other strong flavors that might compete with the fennel.
Bonus: to minimize pre-dinner stress, I made the polenta earlier in the day, then just warmed it a little in the oven while I was cooking up the other ingredients.
Use any kind of cooked polenta you like: firm, creamy, basic, cheesy, etc. You can follow the recipe on your polenta package, use your own favorite recipe, or even buy a pre-cooked log. Sausage choice here is a personal decision as well. I recommend choosing one that doesn’t have too many other strong flavors that might compete with the fennel.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ pound red cabbage, chopped
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cooked sausages (any kind), sliced
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans
- Cooked polenta (4 servings)
- 1 cup (about 3 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add cabbage and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and browned (about 30 minutes). Stir in salt and set aside in another dish.
- In the same skillet, cook the sausage slices over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- When sausage is almost browned, after 8-10 minutes, toss in the beans to warm them up a bit, and cook a couple minutes more.
- Layer a serving of polenta, cabbage and fennel mixture, sausage and beans, and a sprinkle of Parmesan on each plate.