This is one of those incredibly versatile dishes which is easy to prepare, immensely likable to just about every age group--especially teenage boys--with ingredients that can pretty much live in your cupboard or fridge. The better the ingredients you use in the dish, the better the result.
1 recipe Creamy Polenta
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 fresh uncooked sweet Italian sausages, skin removed, coarsely chopped
Note: If your Italian sausages are not flavored with fennel seed, you can add ¼ teaspoon fennel seed to the sausage as you cook it
1½ cups home-made tomato sauce or a good one in a jar
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼ to ½ inch thick
¼ teaspoon black pepper or Aleppo pepper
1. Make the polenta.
2. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Butter a 2½-quart flameproof casserole.
3. Add ¼ cup Parmesan cheese to the hot polenta. Stir well. Pour into the prepared casserole. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.
4. While the polenta is cooking, sauté the sausage over medium heat, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
5. Add the sausage to the casserole on top of the polenta, forming an even layer. Spoon on the tomato sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Top with the mozzarella in an even layer. Sprinkle the mozzarella with black or Aleppo pepper (or both).
6. Bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. If the top is not browned to your liking, place the casserole under the broiler until browned, watching it carefully. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins’ The New Basics