Chilly fall evenings call for cozy fall dinners, and this Skillet Roasted Broccoli with Sausage and Polenta is exactly that. A base of creamy, cheesy polenta is topped with sausage and veggies for a one-dish meal everyone will love.
When we’re planning dinner and we’ve chosen a meat, a vegetable, and we’re looking for that starchy item to round out the meal, we usually turn to rice or potatoes, right? Rarely do we think: polenta! I’m hoping that this recipe for Skillet Roasted Broccoli with Sausage and Polenta might just change your mind about that, though.
Although it has a reputation for being fussy, polenta is a cinch to make when you use the instant version. (And, in all honesty, I don’t really think there’s all that much of a difference between traditional and instant, other than the time involved.) The ground corn takes on a creamy consistency when simmered in liquid, then cheese and butter amp up the flavor. Hello, comfort food goodness!
You can pair polenta with so many different proteins and veggies, but here, I’ve chosen apple sausage and vegetables—red and green bell peppers, sweet onions, and broccoli, to be precise. You get all of the components of a complete dinner in one convenient package. (Or, in this case, cast iron skillet!)
What Exactly Is Polenta?
Polenta is the Italian version of grits! It’s ground yellow cornmeal; traditional polenta is coarsely ground, while instant polenta is more finely ground. (In case you were wondering, grits are made from white cornmeal, which is what sets them apart from polenta.)
What You’ll Need
Ready to get started? Here’s the ingredient list for the recipe:
- Olive oil
- Red bell pepper – Yellow or orange can be used, too, since they have a similar flavor.
- Green bell pepper
- Sweet onion
- Salt and pepper
- Red pepper flakes – Feel free to omit this altogether if you have kids who complain about the tiniest hint of spice in a recipe.
- Whole milk – Whole milk gives the polenta a rich, creamy consistency. You can use reduced fat milk instead, but I don’t recommend using water.
- Low sodium chicken broth – Chicken stock can be swapped for the broth, but remember that stock isn’t seasoned, so you might need to add a generous amount of salt.
- Instant polenta
- Shredded cheddar or parmesan
- Unsalted butter
- Apple sausage
This is a great recipe for cooks who like to get creative in the kitchen. Here are some ideas:
- Switch up the veggies. Lean into fall with caramelized onions, apples, and butternut squash. Swap broccoli for spears of asparagus. Pick up a pint of wild mushrooms at the farmers market. Whatever you pair polenta with, it’s going to be good.
- Use a different cheese. A smoked cheddar or gouda is delicious when melted into polenta.
- Skip the parsley. Instead, you can stir minced fresh sage, thyme, or rosemary into the polenta.
How to Make Skillet Roasted Broccoli with Sausage and Polenta
This is the kind of easy dinner recipe that’s made for busy weeknights. Here’s what you’ll need to do to make it:
Prepare. Place an oven rack on the upper middle position and preheat your oven to 425ºF.
Cook the vegetables. Heat an oven-safe cast iron skillet over medium-high, then add the olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the broccoli, peppers, onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir occasionally, letting the veggies brown in spots; once they’re softened, remove the skillet from heat and transfer the veggies to a bowl.
Cook the polenta. Return the skillet to the stovetop and add the milk and chicken broth, along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, then slowly pour in the polenta, whisking constantly to break up any lumps. Reduce the heat and simmer until the polenta is thick and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and butter, until they’re melted and fully incorporated.
Assemble the skillet. Pour the vegetables over the polenta, then nestle the sausages on top.
Bake. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the sausages are nicely browned and reach an internal temperature of 160ºF, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve. Remove the skillet from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. Scatter the parsley leaves over the top, then serve.
Tips for Success
You really can’t go wrong with this recipe, but these tips are important to getting it right:
- Use instant polenta. Not regular polenta (it has a much longer cooking time) and not the polenta in a tube (it’s a completely different thing). Instant polenta is most often sold near the pasta and pasta sauces at the grocery store and it looks like finely-ground cornmeal.
- Don’t stop whisking. If you stop whisking the polenta, it will bubble and pop all over your stove, backsplash, and potentially your arms. (This hurts! I speak from experience.)
- Add quality cheese. The cheese is what gives the polenta its flavor, so I recommend a good, sharp cheddar.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
You can store this recipe in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When it comes to reheating, polenta takes on a completely different texture after it’s been refrigerated. It’s still creamy, but it’s also firm. Personally, I like that about polenta, but if you want it to have that creamy Day 1 texture again, you’ll have to scoop out the veggies and sausage, transfer the polenta to a small saucepan, and cook it with a bit of milk; whisk it and add more milk until it reaches your desired consistency.