One of my favorite one-pot wonder meals is this hearty sausage creole. It’s thick, spicy, and smoky and serves great with a side of freshly grilled summer corn, boiled red potatoes and steamy rice mixed right into the stew. The simplicity in this dish is finding a great creole seasoning spice mix you can keep stocked up in your pantry, like Cajun’s Choice or Old Bay Seasoning. This is a great “base” dish that can easily be developed into a Cajun meal served with a cold beer, so don’t be afraid to try different hot sauces or proteins to create your own signature style! I tend to use Field Roast plant-based sausages which crispy up nicely and have a variety of sweet and savory flavors that add a smoky depth to the dish, but any sausage of your choice would work well in this simple meal.
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 lb (or package) sausage of choice, cut into slices
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 TB creole seasoning
2 TB olive oil
1/2 cup parsley, diced
Salt and pepper to flavor
Hot sauce of choice to flavor
In a large skillet, cook the sausage, onion, peppers and celery in olive oil over medium heat until vegetables are tender and the sausages are browned and crispy. Next add diced tomatoes and kidney beans and toss to combine. Stir in your creole seasoning and mix. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. You can add more creole seasoning, salt and pepper, and hot sauce to flavor. Serve with fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon.
Polenta is an Italian dish that refers to the traditional preparation of coarse ground cornmeal cooked steadily over medium heat into a mildly creamy porridge. It is typically made fresh, but if you’ve ever wondered about those polenta rolls sold in grocery stores I am here to tell you that they are marvelous and will quickly become your new favorite staple in the kitchen. Because they are pre-cooked, you simply slice and reheat by roasting, sautéing or even grilling to caramelize the outside and then pair with any sauce that you would otherwise throw on pasta.
The secret of this rustic yet sophisticated Polenta with White Beans and Homemade Marina dish is the dreamy marinara that is full of vibrant tomato flavors and made with only five simple ingredients. Best of all you can add in any grilled vegetables or protein of your choice to the polenta base for a new twist on Italian night.
1 tube of polenta
14-oz can cannellini beans
28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
2 large garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 handful of fresh basil or parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
In medium saucepan combine the entire can of tomatoes along with the halved onion, garlic cloves, 2 TBS olive oil and oregano. Bring the sauce to a bubble then turn down to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the entire onion after 30 minutes and discard or reserve for another recipe. Use a wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes and smash the garlic cloves against the side of the pot. This should result in a slightly chunky and flavorful sauce. Add salt to taste. Meanwhile, slice the tube of polenta cut into ½ ‘’ rounds. Preheat large pan on medium heat, add the remaining 2 TB olive oil and cook polenta rounds 4-5 minutes per side until soft and golden. Serve warm polenta rounds on a plate then spoon over the homemade marinara and top it off with white beans, freshly diced basil or parsley, and parmesan cheese.
Heirloom tomatoes come in an array of colors and flavor profiles, and while they are often typecast as a summer cold salad ingredient, they also cook down into a wonderful homemade marinara that bursts with rich juicy flavors. The pale yellow and striped bright orange heirlooms in particular have a low-acid, mildly sweet flavor with a soft meaty texture and when pureed with tiny sweet orange cherry tomatoes along with the humble sweet onion you get this golden rich and creamy tomato sauce that is totally addictive. If you are growing your own heirloom tomato garden in the summer this is a perfect recipe to show off your beautiful bounty. Fortunately even here in the Midwest you can get your hands on a multitude of tomato varieties even in the winter. Interlace your gold tomato sauce with spicy red pepper flakes and fresh cherry tomatoes and basil leaves for an elegant yet simple pasta dish.
2 lb golden heirloom tomatoes, diced into large wedges
1 pint orange cherry tomatoes, whole
1 pint red cherry tomatoes, halved
1 sweet yellow onion, slivered
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pinch chili flakes
2 fresh basil leaves
3/4 lb spaghetti
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat a large sauce pan over medium heat and sauté the onion with olive oil until translucent. Add the minced garlic then mix in your heirloom tomato variety and your orange cherry tomatoes. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not be tempted to add liquid as these tomatoes will collapse and release sweet concentrated tomato juice for an incredible sauce. Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to directions. When tomatoes are cooked down, use a hand blender to puree into a hot soup or ladle into a blender to process. Toss your pasts to coat with sauce then garnish with your fresh basil, red pepper flakes and cherry tomatoes.