Italian Sausage and Grapes with Goat Cheese Polenta

5 from 1 vote
1 hour
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Italian Sausage and Grapes over Goat Cheese Polenta with a lovely balsamic sauce is a rustic yet welcoming “small plate” that’s perfect for entertaining!

Photo of Balsamic Italian Sausage and Grapes over Goat Cheese Polenta in wooden serving bowls on gray napkin on gray background.

The inspiration behind this recipe:

Have you noticed many restaurants now have a “small plates” section on their menu?  Small plates are slightly more substantial than an appetizer but not as heavy as an entree.  For Spanish it’s tapas, Greek it’s meze and Italian, it’s cicchetti.  I am totally in love with the small plate concept because it means I can enjoy two or three different things on their menu.

I’ve done numerous gatherings personally and professionally as a personal chef.  I found doing individual appetizers is labor-intensive and time-consuming.  When entertaining, you’re doing it because you want to enjoy the company of your family and friends, not work so hard you’re exhausted by the time they arrive.  A small-plates party is the perfect casual way to entertain.

This rustic Italian Sausage and Grapes with Goat Cheese Polenta is perfect on a small plates menu!

Photo of red grapes in antique white colander.

What is polenta?

Polenta is one of my favorite comfort foods and goat cheese polenta is my favorite way to enjoy it.  It’s similar to grits in that they are both made from stone-ground cornmeal but they’re made from different types of corn.  The number of times it’s milled, the fineness of the grind and the taste and texture differ.  Instant polenta is easier to find, however, you’ll want to use coarse polenta here.

Coarse polenta takes a lot of time and attention to cook if you do it the traditional way on the stovetop.  I prefer to cook it uncovered in the oven instead so I can do other things.

Photo of polenta in white baking dish with goat cheese over the top.

While the polenta is baking, brown the Italian sausage and grapes.  Place them in the oven to finish cooking alongside the polenta.  (Cooking things simultaneously at the same temperature conserves energy!)

Photo of grapes and sausages in clay baking dish on dark gray towel.

Make a quick herb-infused balsamic-based pan sauce, slice the Italian sausage, toss with sauce, plate over the goat cheese polenta and enjoy!  Balsamic Italian Sausage and Grapes over Goat Cheese Polenta.

Photo of sliced sausages and grapes in cast iron skillet.

Photo of three servings of Balsamic Italian Sausage and Grapes over Goat Cheese Polenta on light gray background with gray napkin, wine bottles and glass of wine garnished with rosemary.

Photo of Balsamic Italian Sausage and Grapes over Goat Cheese Polenta on silver tray with glass of red wine on wrought iron chair.

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Goat Cheese Polenta with Italian Sausage and Roasted Grapes

Italian Sausage and Grapes with Goat Cheese Polenta

5 from 1 vote

Click to Rate!

By: Carol | From A Chef's Kitchen
Italian Sausage and Grapes with Goat Cheese Polenta with a lovely balsamic glaze is a rustic yet welcoming “small plate” that’s perfect for entertaining!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Appetizers and Snacks
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10
Calories 415 kcal



  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup polenta - coarse ground, not instant
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese - (4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Sausage and Grapes

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil - divided
  • 1 pound Italian sausage links - pork, turkey or chicken, spicy or mild
  • 1 pound red grapes - cut into 4 - 5 bunches with stem attached


  • 2 medium shallots - minced
  • 1/2 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter - cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • Rosemary sprigs - for garnish



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Brush the inside of an oven and microwave-safe baking dish with olive oil. Whisk together half-and-half, chicken broth, polenta, salt and black pepper to taste in the prepared baking dish. Microwave on High for 3 minutes. Stir, then transfer to the oven. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
  • Stir in the goat cheese and butter and adjust seasoning if necessary. Keep warm.

Sausage and Grapes

  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and brown on all sides, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish.
  • Add the grapes to the skillet, drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and lightly brown them. Transfer to the baking dish with the sausage. Bake 20 - 25 minutes alongside the polenta or until the sausage is thoroughly cooked.


  • Meanwhile, add the shallots to the existing fat in the skillet. Cook over medium heat for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring often, being careful not to burn the shallots.
  • Add the balsamic vinegar, chicken broth and rosemary or thyme to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes to reduce slightly. Stir in the butter and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

To Serve

  • Transfer sausages to a cutting board and slice on an angle into thick slices. Cut grape bunches into 8 - 10 smaller bunches. Spoon polenta into small bowls or onto small plates. Top with 2 -3 sausage slices and a small bunch of grapes. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon sauce and garnish with an herb sprig. Serve immediately.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 415kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 701mg | Potassium: 357mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 478IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 1mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I keep thinking about polenta but never get around to making it. This looks like such a delicious recipe, bookmarking your page so I can add this to my monthly menu.

  2. My husband and I started composting last year and added it to our garden this year. It really does make a difference in the soil! Love hearty and earthy dishes like this and that sauce sounds fantastic!

  3. I love this grape-sausage-polenta combo! I am a fan of all of these things, but have never tried them all in one dish! Small plates are such a great size too! And I’m with you on the plastic bags – they are the absolute worst! I try to take my reusable bags when I go shopping. I’m going to look for that wine too!

  4. I must admit I have never had sausages and grapes together. How exotic!! I love sausages and the polenta looks so divine. I have never tired making polenta in the oven yet. I cant’ wait to try this.

  5. I love small plates too! Very often my family will make 5 or 6 small appetizers for dinner and it is a great way to try lots of different foods. I love polenta too, it is such a creamy rich comfort food and goes with so many things.

  6. I like making the polenta in the oven! (As long as you have it on anyway…) So much easier.

    And I agree about caring for the environment. That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about living in Manhattan – between walking on my errands, taking transit everywhere else, and the efficiency of steam heat we can use much less energy than most Americans. And now, we’re even in the early stage of what will be a city wide composting program!