Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake

5 from 5 votes
1 hour 10 minutes
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Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake is a heartier, make-ahead gluten-free twist on pizza with the classic combination of Italian sausage and peppers.  It’s perfect cool-weather comfort food!

Photo of Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake in clay baking dish on wooden trivet with fresh basil leaves and scattered cheese on blue background.

I’m back!  I know I probably have some splainin’ to do about why the long gap in posting something new.

It’s all good!  It’s all very good!  This Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake will be worth the wait!

My husband and I just got back from a three-week, six-country tour of Europe! The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France!  In addition to the time away, there’s way too much to do before you even head to the airport.

We didn’t have any plans to do a major vacation this year.  However, when a Rick Steves tour catalog arrived in the mail, it was just too tempting because I’m a huge Rick Steves fan!

Rick Steves’ Saturday morning show on PBS back in the 1990’s, Rick Steves’ Europe, was a lifeline for me at a time when my world was pretty small.  I lived in a small Milwaukee apartment with a good little clerical job.  With hardly any money, I could only dream and live vicariously through his show about traveling to Europe someday.  Thankfully, my world has opened up and I’ve been able to travel to the places I saw on television!

We chose The Best of Europe in 21 Days.  Three weeks away is a very long time to be away and a little crazy but I’m glad we did it.  There are no guarantees in life and we feel it’s important to grab it while you can.  We certainly did that and had a great time with great people!

Speaking of crazy, here’s a crazy-good heartier gluten-free twist on a pizza you’re going to love!  Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake.

Why am I calling this Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake a “bake” instead of a casserole?  To me, a casserole is something mixed together and then baked.  This Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake has more of a layering thing going on.  The polenta base comes together quickly using instant polenta!

How to make Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake:

  • Prepare the polenta base by whisking instant polenta into chicken broth according to the package directions along with garlic and Parmesan cheese.  Remove from the heat and stir in an egg.  Immediately pour into a prepared baking dish.
  • Bake for 20 minutes so the polenta “sets up.”

Photo of polenta layer cooling/setting up in round earthenware baking dish on blue background.

  • While the polenta base is baking, cook the Italian sausage and drain it well.

Photo of cooked Italian sausage in skillet.

  • Cook the peppers and onions…

Photo of cooked onions and bell peppers in skillet.

  • Top with seasoned crushed tomatoes (or your favorite marinara sauce), cheese, the Italian sausage, peppers and yes, more cheese and place back in the oven…

Close-up photo of Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake after being baked.

  • Here’s delicious, hearty comfort food perfect for a chilly fall evening your family or guests will love!  Vary the veggies by using zucchini, yellow squash or eggplant!  If you’re not into Italian sausage made with pork, try chicken or turkey sausage.

Close-up photo of Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake with server pulling a cheesy spoonful from dish.

Be sure to try these other Italian-inspired recipes!

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Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake - Finished dish fresh out of the oven on wooden trivet with fresh basil leaves and scattered cheese on blue background - Hero shot

Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake

5 from 5 votes

Click to Rate!

By: Carol | From A Chef's Kitchen
Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake is a heartier, make-ahead gluten-free twist on pizza with the classic combination of sausage and peppers.  It's perfect cool-weather comfort food!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Beef
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8
Calories 417 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • Cooking spray

Polenta

  • 3 cups chicken broth - or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg

Sausage and Peppers

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 links Italian sausage - spicy or mild, casings removed
  • 1/2 large red onion - thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper - seeds and membranes removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper - seeds and membranes removed, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 can (15-ounce) crushed tomatoes - or 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning - divided
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese - divided
  • Fresh basil leaves - for garnish, optional

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2-quart round baking dish with cooking spray.

Polenta

  • Bring chicken broth or water, salt, butter and garlic to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta and cook until thickened, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat then stir in Parmesan cheese and egg.
  • Immediately transfer to the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes.

Sausage and Peppers

  • While polenta base is baking, heat olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up and crumbling the meat as it cooks until it's cooked through and no longer pink, approximately 7-8 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and bell pepper to drippings remaining in the pan. Cook 4-5 minutes or until softened but still have some "bite." Stir in garlic and cook briefly, 30 seconds.
  • Combine crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper flakes. (This can be done right in the can using a small spoon to stir.) If using prepared marinara sauce, omit the Italian seasoning.
  • Spread seasoned crushed tomatoes or marinara sauce over the polenta.
  • Sprinkle with half the cheese.
  • Evenly distribute the sausage and peppers over the tomatoes/sauce.
  • Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes or until hot, bubbling and cheese is nicely melted.
  • Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired.

Notes

SUBSTITUTIONS:  Substitute turkey or chicken Italian sausage.  Give the recipe a Southwestern twist with chorizo, Monterey jack cheese and Poblano peppers.
MAKE AHEAD:  Can be assembled 1-2 days in advance. Add 15-20 minutes to the baking time.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Bake as directed.  Cool and cut into quarters or wedges.  Wrap securely or place in an airtight container.  Freeze up to 3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven at 350 degrees.
TO REHEAT LEFTOVERS:  Cut into wedges and heat individual wedges at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 417kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 1170mg | Potassium: 357mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1168IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 325mg | Iron: 2mg

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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10 Comments

    1. Hi, Viv, Thanks so much for your question. I think you’ll be fine cutting into rounds and placing it in a baking pan. I know the kind you’re talking about. You’ll just need to try to fill the bottom in as completely as possible. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  1. We liked this. Next time we would put in a 9×13 pan. We felt the polenta layer was too thick in our round 2L glass casserole dish. Made second vegan version for my daughter substituting in Aquafaba, nutritional yeast, earth balance butter and vegan sausage. She liked hers too.

  2. The polenta I have is not instant and I don’t want to buy more. How would I make this with the Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits that I have? Thanks!!

    1. Hi, Thanks so much for your question. I have a bag of the same type of thing and it’s polenta for sure; you’ll just need to cook it longer per package directions. Hope that helps and hope you enjoy!