Sausage and Clams With Polenta

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Serves 4
Ingredients:

For the  polenta, See the following recipe
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bunch broccoli rabe, florets chopped, or 1/2 head escarole, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausages, cut into chunks
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup dry white wine
16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:
Prepare the polenta and keep warm, until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and broccoli rabe, season with salt and pepper and cook until the broccoli rabe is slightly tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the sausage to the pot and cook until just brown, breaking it up with a spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes.

Add the clams; cover and cook over medium-high heat until the clams open, 5 to 7 minutes (discard any that do not open). Return the broccoli rabe to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Divide the polenta among bowls and top with the sausage-clam mixture and cooking liquid. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

 

Creamy Polenta

 Serves 6

 Ingredients:
5 cups water, milk, or chicken or vegetables stock (See Cook’s Notes)
1 cup medium or coarse yellow cornmeal (See Cook’s Notes)
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil

 

Directions:
Pre-soak the  cornmeal, which requires advance planning but cuts cooking time roughly in half, combine water with cornmeal in a large mixing bowl and let stand, covered, at room temperature overnight. When ready to cook, scrape soaked cornmeal and water into a large saucier or saucepan and set over high heat.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Let boil, stirring frequently, until polenta thickens enough that it starts to  sputter or “spit”. Lower heat immediately to prevent spitting and continue to cook, stirring frequently with a spoon or silicone spatula and scraping bottom to prevent scorching, until polenta becomes thick and pulls away from side of saucepan, for  about 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt.

Stir in butter or olive oil using either a spoon, silicon spatula, or whisk. If the polenta forms lumps, beat vigorously with a stiff whisk to remove the lumps. If polenta becomes too firm or begins to set, add a small amount of water, stock, or milk, and beat in with a whisk until fully incorporate and no lumps remain.

Serve right away with accompaniment of your choice, or scrape into a vessel and chill until set, then cut into pieces for grilling, searing, or frying.

Cook’s Notes:
Any medium or coarse cornmeal will work here, whether the package says “polenta” or not; avoid instant polenta, which promises a quick cooking time in exchange for sub-par flavor and texture.

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Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Fennel and Mushroom

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Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, halved through core, thinly sliced lengthwise, fronds chopped
1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed, sausage coarsely crumbled
One 8-ounce package sliced fresh baby bella mushrooms
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
One 16-ounce fresh tortellini with 3-cheese filling
One 5-ounce package fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional, for serving

Directions:
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel bulb, sausage, and mushrooms; sauté until sausage is brown and cooked through and fennel is almost tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and fennel seeds; stir 1 minute. Stir in cream, then 1 cup broth; boil until liquid is reduced and very slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook tortellini in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain tortellini; return to same pot.

Add sausage mixture to tortellini in pot. Toss over medium heat until blended. Add spinach; toss gently until spinach wilts. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese; add more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten if dry. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds, and serve, passing additional cheese.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor


Zuppa Toscana

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I love the Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana.

I loved it so much I decided only recently to make it home. This creamy concoction has Italian sausage, hearty potatoes and just a hint of heat with the crushed red pepper flakes. The ingredients are a perfect combination if there ever was one, not to mention the velvety-rich broth that warms us from the inside out. The ingredients list is budget-friendly and, while it tastes indulgent, there is also a hefty amount of leafy greens, making this soup one of the healthiest dishes out there.

 

 

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced into wedges then halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large white onion, finely chopped
5 cups chicken broth
2 cups kale or Swiss chard or baby spinach, rinsed, tough stems removed, roughly chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Cook the Italian sausage and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove an drain on paper towels and set aside.

Leaving a few tablespoons of drippings with the sausage in the bottom of the Dutch oven, stir in the onions and garlic; cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour the chicken broth into the Dutch oven over the onion mixture; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the heavy cream and the cooked sausage; heat through. Mix the kale into the soup just before serving. Ladle into bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor