Despite the fact that it really doesn’t feel like fall has arrived here in Denver just yet (and I’m not complaining – this time last year, we’d already had a significant snow storm!), I could no longer resist the urge to start cooking fall comfort food. I love grilling and all the amazing produce summer has to offer, but I think fall – with its braised meats, soups, stews, squash, and all other kinds of warm, delicious things – might be my favorite cooking season.
I found the recipe for my first comfort dish of the season – Mushroom and Sausage Ragù with Polenta – from Cooking Light, which I suppose makes this a nice transition from summer to fall; the dish tastes incredibly rich and comforting, but it actually isn’t all that bad on a nutritional scale. A dish with (turkey) sausage, butter, and (light) cream cheese? Yes, please. Here’s the recipe:
Mushroom and Sausage Ragù with Polenta
Serves 4 (Serving size is 1 cup ragù and 1 cup polenta)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
2 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked polenta
4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 tablespoon butter
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Remove sausage from casings. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in sausage, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium; simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Bring broth and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add polenta, stirring well. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 20 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, cheese, and butter. Serve with sausage mixture.
- My grocery store was out of hot turkey Italian sausage, so I used sweet.
- I find that Cooking Light recipes rarely have enough salt for my taste, so I used 1/4 teaspoon of salt (1/2 teaspoon total) each time the recipe called for 1/8 teaspoon. On this same note, I just bought a regular old can of diced tomatoes (not no-salt-added diced tomatoes). I did buy fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth as the recipe instructed.
- I used Bob’s Red Mill polenta. The recipe said to cook it for 20 minutes and the package suggested 30; I was happy with the consistency (for this particular meal, at least) at the 15 – 16 minute mark.
Good heavens, this was delicious. I don’t know how the people at Jennie-O do it, but I never would have guessed that the sausage was made from turkey (as opposed to beef or pork) if I hadn’t cooked it myself. The spiced meat combined with the earthy mushrooms and the sweet tomatoes made a perfect sauce. And the polenta that soaked up that sauce? Holy cow. I’ve made polenta with butter and Parmesan many times before but never with cream cheese; the cream cheese really took it to the next level. I also appreciated that there was enough butter in the polenta so we could taste it, but not so much that it created a nutritional disaster. Each serving clocks in at nine Weight Watchers points so it isn’t exactly a lean meal, but it certainly tastes far more indulgent than it is. If I hadn’t told Dr. O this was a healthy recipe, he would have thought I was fattening him up for winter.
TIPS: Cook the polenta while the ragù simmers so everything will be done at the same time.
Printable recipe link: Mushroom and Sausage Ragù with Polenta