In late summer and early fall in many parts of Italy, sweet red peppers are stewed with onions and tomatoes (and sometimes sausages) and then ladled over bowls of creamy polenta. You can add eggplant or summer squash or use fewer tomatoes, more peppers or just make a tomato sauce. In this version I’ve added leftover pot roast. You’ll likely have leftover polenta which makes wonderful leftovers, with or without sauce.
If you want to add sausages you can either cook them whole, separately or slice or crumble them into the skillet when you’re cooking the onions and peppers, before you add the tomatoes.
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium sweet peppers, washed, cored and seeded and cut into thin strips
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4-5 medium tomatoes, diced
Basil, for garnish (optional)
For the polenta:
1 1/2-cups polenta
8 cups water, veggie bouillon broth or half water/broth, half milk
1-teaspoon sea salt (less if you’re using well-seasoned broth)
2 tablespoons butter
½ – ¾ cup grated cheese (Parmesan, Asiago Stella, . . .), divided
To make the polenta, bring the liquid and salt to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Whisk in the polenta and turn down so that it’s at a steady simmer. Whisk or stir frequently for the first few minutes to ensure that there are no lumps. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally over low-medium heat for about 25-30 minutes or until the polenta is tender. Add butter and half the cheese, taste and adjust seasoning with salt, if needed.
For the sauce, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic and peppers and several pinches of salt and sauté, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic. You do want the onions and peppers to take on a bit of color. If you’re adding uncooked sausage, do so now. Then add the tomatoes and bring to a lively simmer. Turn down and gently simmer for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes have thickened a bit. If you have already cooked meat or sausage you can add it and just heat it through. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil.
Top the polenta with the sauce and the remainder of the Parmesan and chopped fresh basil if you’d like.