I was one of the many who, mid-November 2016, started making more charitable donations and signed up for a digital newspaper subscription for the first time in my life. I opted to subscribe to the New York Times because it was always my first stop for election-related news – until I ran out of free articles for the month, anyway. Also, I have a grudge against the Seattle Times because if I pay for a subscription, I should not have to deal with pop-up ads!
ANYway, though I scroll through the headlines and read a few articles daily, what really justifies the cost of the subscription for me is the cooking section. There are a good variety of recipes that are gluten free, or can easily be adapted by say, making breadcrumbs from the heel slices of my gluten free bread or using cornstarch or whatever gluten free flour I have on hand. I’ve gotten excited about cooking and trying new recipes again because, unlike certain gluten free blogs, the recipes in the Times cooking section are consistently good.
Once every week or two, I try a new recipe. So far, my #1 favorite has been this roasted red pepper and tomato soup – highly recommend! One day this summer, Joel requested shrimp and grits, which I made from this Times recipe, and was also quite good. The only downside was that it left me with a nearly full bag of dry grits that needed to be used up. Obviously, my search engine of choice to find a new recipe to try was the Times cooking section, where I found this butternut squash polenta with sausage and onion.
It’s the only recipe I’ve made from the Times that wasn’t a hit. It was a bit bland, the recipe made WAY too much polenta and not nearly enough sausage and onion, and eating the leftovers was kind of a chore. It was disappointing because butternut squash and sausage and onions are all tasty – I knew the recipe had potential and I wasn’t willing to write it off just yet. So I set out to one-up the NY Times, and I think I succeeded. (I promise, I didn’t read the comments on the recipe until after I’d made it with my modifications and saw that a number of commenters made similar modifications. But I’ll still take credit for it, because I came up with the idea without seeing their comments.)
Jennie’s Butternut Squash Polenta with Sausage and Veggies
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 small butternut squash
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk or cream
1 cup dry corn grits or polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand, as it’s manufactured in their gluten free facility)
1 lb ground sausage (I used spicy Italian because pregnancy has made me suddenly like spicy food, weirdly)
1 medium onion
1 bell pepper of any color
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 generous tsp Italian seasonings
Salt and pepper, to taste.
Here’s what you’ll do:
1. A few hours or even days ahead of time, roast your butternut squash. I poke a few holes in it and stick it whole into a 350 degree oven for about an hour and a half because it’s much easier to cut when it’s already cooked! Allow to cool. If you do this a day or more ahead of time, just wrap it up in tin foil and store in the fridge.
You could skip this (as well as step 3) and use canned butternut squash puree, but this is much more fun and tasty.
2. Bring the chicken broth and milk or cream to a gentle boil. Add the dry polenta and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, peel (if you haven’t already) and roughly chop the butternut squash. Use a food processor or potato masher to puree – a few lumps are okay!
4. Thinly slice the onion, pepper, and zucchini.
5. Cook the sausage in a large skillet. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
6. Cook the sliced veggies in the rendered sausage fat (or in some butter or oil, if the sausage doesn’t leave a lot to cook in.) Stir frequently. Add the fennel seeds and Italian seasonings.
7. When the polenta has absorbed all of the liquid, stir in the pureed squash. Salt and pepper to taste.
8. To serve, spoon the polenta onto plates and top with the sausage and veggie medley. Eat. Enjoy.