Rustic Meal: Sausages, Veggies and Polenta

Rustic Meal

I’m not going to tell you how to make this entire meal, nor the nutritional data for everything. The sausage nutrition will change with every choice, and your choices will change from region to region, from city to city.

Choice is a common topic on my podcast Make Your Someday Today. We are all confronted with challenges, and most are in the form of choices. Planning in advance makes choosing easier.

Your grilled veggies can be altered to your preference. I used baby zucchini, white button mushrooms, an onion, and two red bell peppers. I cut them into similar sizes, tossed them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs, then grilled them over high direct heat until caramelized.

But the polenta requires a recipe and instructions. I’ve made mistakes with polenta; there is a secret.

Jalapeno-Cheddar Polenta
Serves 10+

4 cups liquid (I used 2 bottles beer–24 ounces, or three cups + 1 cup water)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup regular polenta (not quick cooking)
1/2 cup diced onion
1 (or more) diced jalapeno
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese.

  1. Bring liquid to a rolling boil. 
  2. Add onion and jalapeno. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat up and bring back to a rolling boil.
  4. SLOWLY and STEADILY add the polenta, stirring constantly. (This is where I made earlier mistakes. I just dumped it in. Don’t do that!) When you are finished adding the polenta, reduce heat to medium.
  5. Let boil for 3-5 minutes, stirring once a minute, or until desire consistency.
  6. Lay out a 3 foot sheet of waxed paper. Spray with cooking spray.
  7. Pour polenta over wax paper. Spread to approximately 1/2 inch thickness. Let cool 30-60 minutes.
  8. Using a round biscuit cutter or other device, cut into circles. (Or cut into squares.)
  9. At this point, they are ready to fry for immediate service, or refrigerate for later use.
  10. If you are going to immediately serve them, preheat a non-stick skillet over med-high heat.
  11. Spray with cooking spray. Lay cut polenta cakes into the skillet (or griddle) and cook until beginning to brown, 1-3 minutes. 
  12. Flip and cook the other side.
  13. Serve immediately with butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, applesauce or sour cream.
Nutritional data:
Calories:         99
Fat:               1.9g
Sat fat:          1.2g
Chol:          5.9mg
Sodium:    96.3mg
Carbs:         12.5g
Fiber:            0.5g
Protein:         2.6g
Make Your Someday Today is a twice-weekly podcast, where we talk to successful people in all walks of life and around the world on Monday, and then on Thursday, I take a specific message from the previous guest and give my “Trevitorial”, where I help you apply that message to your life. The entire purpose of the show is to help all of us overcome our challenges and fears and become the person we want to be, the person we deserve to be.

Bacon-Corn Broccoli Slaw and Jalapeno-Cheddar Polenta

Bacon-Corn Broccoli Slaw 
Serves 4

2 strips bacon (reserve 3 tablespoons bacon grease)
1 cup frozen corn kernels (or the equivalent cut from the fresh cobs.)
1/2 cup diced onion
12 ounce package of pre-cut broccoli slaw

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ranch dressing
1 teaspoon your preferred herb blend (I used Penzey’s Sunny Paris.)

  1. Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan. Chop into a smallish pieces.
  2. Add corn and onion to the pan. Over medium heat, saute until the corn begins to brown (5-6 minutes.)
  3. While the corn and onions caramelize, mix yogurt, vinegar, ranch dressing and herb blend together. Taste, and add salt, pepper or sugar to taste.)
  4. Put broccoli slaw mix in a bowl. Top with yogurt dressing. Add corn and onions, and bacon.  Toss to coat. 
  5. Serve warm or cold.
Nutritional data: (6 ounces by weight per serving)
Calories:         129
Fat:                   7g
Sat fat:              2g
Chol:           8.9mg
Sodium:      142mg
Carbs:          12.1g
Fiber:             1.9g
Protein:             5g

Jalapeno Cheddar Polenta
Serves 4

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
16 ounces fluid (I used half beer, half water)
1/2 cup dried polenta
1/8 cup shredded cheddar

  1. Preheat non-stick skillet over med-high. Spray with cooking spray. 
  2. Saute pepper and onion for 3-5 minutes, until the pepper begins to get brown.
  3. While you are doing that, bring your liquid to a boil.
  4. Add the polenta to the boiling liquid.
  5. Turn heat down and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stir in peppers and onions.
  7. Top with a bit of cheese when serving.
(Note that my polenta is brown, but only because I used a dark beer.)

Nutritional data: (4 ounces by weight per serving)
Calories:          113
Fat:                 1.2g
Sat fat:            0.7g
Chol:            3.7mg
Sodium:      25.3mg
Carbs:           18.8g
Fiber:              2.3g
Protein:            2.8g

Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs, Creamy Cucumber-Olive Salad and Herbed Polenta

Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs
Serve 4

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves

  1. Combine all ingredients in a Ziploc bag, seal and refrigerate for 2-4 hours, turning occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. Place chicken thighs in a shallow baking dish, uncovered, for 18-20 minutes, or until they begin to brown.

Nutritional Data:
Calories:        289
Fat:             18.3g
Sat fat:          4.2g
Chol:            99mg
Sodium:        93mg
Carbs:          2.6g
Fiber:           0.4g
Protein:      27.3g

Herbed Polenta
Serves 4

2 cups skim milk
2/3 cup dried polenta
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 teaspoon Italian or Greek herbs

  1. Prepare polenta according to label instructions.
  2. When it is finished cooking, stir in the feta and herb.
  3. Serve immediately, or spread it flat, 1/2 inch thick and let cool.  Then, pan-fry in a bit of olive oil, flipping it over when the edges begin to brown. 

Nutritional Data:
Calories:        158
Fat:               1.7g
Sat fat:          1.2g
Chol:            8.6mg
Sodium:       126mg
Carbs:          23.2g
Fiber:           2.1g
Protein:           6g

Creamy Cucumber-Olive Salad
Serves 4
2 cucumber, peeled and seeded, cut into 1/8 inch thick crescents.
9 Kalamata olives, sliced
4 banana peppers, cut into rings
3 ounces (by weight) Fage plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Nutritional Data:
Calories:       69
Fat:             2.7g
Sat fat:           0g
Chol:             0mg
Sodium:     206mg
Carbs:         8.2g
Fiber:          3.6g
Protein:       3.9g