Polenta is a delicious Italian side dish, made with stone ground cornmeal. It’s creamy and delicious, and can be served freshly cooked, similar to mashed potatoes, or chilled overnight to create firm, sliceable planks that can be sauteed or grilled for a crispy crust with a creamy interior. Tonight, I’ll be serving the polenta fresh and creamy, with roasted chicken sausages, asparagus, and cherry tomatoes. Here’s what you’ll need:

Polenta is traditionally made on the stove top, where it must be constantly stirred, making it a somewhat laborious process. However, there is an easier way… the microwave! Combine 1 cup stone ground cornmeal, 3 1/2 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a very large (8 cup capacity) microwave safe bowl. 

Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high 6 minutes. Uncover and stir thoroughly.

Then microwave 5 to 6 minutes longer. Stir again. Polenta should be thick.

For added flavor, stir in 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese.

You can serve the polenta just like this; as a creamy side dish, similar to mashed potatoes, or you can make polenta cakes.

If you want polenta cakes, scrape the polenta into a greased 9 by 13 dish, cover, and refrigerate until fully chilled and set.

When the polenta is fully chilled and firm, heat theoven to 425. Use a sharp knife to cut the polenta into squares or triangles, or you can use a round cookie cutter to make circles. 

Place the pieces of polenta on one third of a greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle each with a bit of grated pecorino romano cheese, and a grind of fresh black pepper.

Next, the sausages and vegetables. Trim the tough bottom ends off the asparagus, and toss it with a pinch of salt, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a half pint of halved cherry tomatoes.

Place the vegetables on the middle third of the baking sheet, and the sausages on the last third.

Roast 15 to 20 minutes, until the polenta and sausages are heated through, and vegetables are spotty brown.