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!
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."
- While the polenta base is baking, cook the Italian sausage and drain it well.
- Cook the peppers and onions...
- 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...
- 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.
Be sure to try these other Italian-inspired recipes!
- Italian Summer Vegetable Casserole
- Four-Cheese Strata with Zucchini and Tomatoes
- Grains and Greens Casserole
- Mediterranean Sheet Pan Chicken Sausage and Vegetables with Garlic Parmesan Polenta
- Beef Stuffed Zucchini Recipe with Tomato Sauce
Italian Sausage and Bell Pepper Polenta Bake
- Cooking spray
- 3 cups chicken broth - or water
- ½ 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
- ½ 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
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2-quart round baking dish with cooking spray.
- 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.
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.
Viv ziegler says
I buy polenta in a tube already cooked but not seasoned. How can I use this?
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!
We liked this. Next time we would put in a 9x13 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.
Hi, Sharon, Thanks so very much and glad you all enjoyed! Love the changes you made to make this vegan! Thanks again!
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!!
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!
This would be so great for a fall weeknight meal! I'm pinning for later so I can give it a try!
Thanks, Kathryn! It's definitely perfect for a fall night. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!