Homemade Marinara and Creamy Polenta
I have always been quite intimidated about making polenta. All of the splattering and stirring, constantly watching to make sure it doesn't get too thick or heaven forbid, get lumpy! Well, I decided to face my fear of polenta and it was nearly as difficult as I had imagined and the dish came out perfectly with just the right consistency and no lumps.
Polenta is a staple in Italian cuisine. Simply, it is cornmeal that is not ground as fine as the cornmeal that is used for cornbread. It is cooked with liquid such as water, broth, or milk and as it cooks it thickens and becomes creamy. You can serve it warm, like this dish, or pour it into a baking dish and let it cool overnight. Once cooled, it can be cut into squares and grilled, broiled or sauteed and served as a side dish.
This dish is easy, but not quick. There is cooking time for both the marinara and the polenta, but if you have the time, this is so worth it. Talk about comfort food and it won't wreck your healthy eating plans either.
Our Spaghetti Seasoning is hand blended from minced onion, Mediterranean oregano, red pepper flakes, sweet basil, garlic flakes, sea salt and parsley flakes.
Helpful hint: I use fresh tomatoes and tomato juice, but if you use un-drained canned tomatoes, then tomato sauce would work instead of the tomato juice and the sauce should have about the same consistency.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium sized sweet onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 bell pepper, any color, seeded and chopped
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 Tablespoons Spaghetti Seasoning or Italian Seasoning
- 12 oz lean ground turkey or turkey sausage
- 3-4 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small can 5.5oz tomato juice
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup polenta or cornmeal - not the quick cooking kind
- 1 pinch of Coarse Sea Salt
- In a dutch oven or large saucepan with a lid, heat olive oil to medium high heat
- Add onions, garlic and peppers and stir frequently until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent.
- Add tomato paste and Spaghetti Seasoning and continue stirring about another minute until tomato paste and spices are well incorporated into the vegetable mixture
- Add the ground turkey to the spice and vegetable mixture, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon and stirring to combine. Continue cooking until meat is browned and cooked through.
- Add tomatoes and tomato juice, stir to combine, then reduce heat to low and cover sauce.
While sauce is cooking you can make the polenta.
- Bring water and salt to a boil in a medium-size heavy sauce pan over high heat.
- Pour cornmeal slowly into water while stirring with a wire whisk or wooden spoon.
- Continue stirring as mixture starts to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Turn heat to low. Cook for at least 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
- You can cover the pan if you want to prevent mixture from splattering while it is cooking.
- If polenta becomes too thick to stir, thin it with an additional 1/2 cup water, stir well and continue cooking.
- Spoon even amounts of warm polenta into 4 serving bowls, making a well in the center.
- Spoon marinara sauce into the center of the polenta and garnish with fresh or Dried Basil or Parmesan cheese
- Serve immediately.