Polenta with Sausage, Spinach, White Beans and Mushrooms

 I grew up in Massachusetts, a New Englander at heart, but I have spent a great deal of time in the south. Whether it’s North Florida or South Carolina there is a lot about the South and southern cuisine that I love, especially grits. Grits weren’t introduced to me until I went to college in Tallahassee, FL (GO ‘NOLES!). I was hesitant at first, but I found it to be a quite delectable and versatile dish. I am a savory grits girl, melt some butter and cheese on ’em and I’m in heaven.  
Polenta is a lot like grits- similar in consistency and texture. I love smooth, creamy, savory polenta so I married it with some of my favorite flavors to create a delicious union. This is a great one dish dinner. It is filling and well rounded. 

1 Bag Organic Baby Spinach
5-6 Mild Italian Sausage. (I use pork sausage but you can substitute chicken if you prefer)
1/2 Large Vidalia Onion Sliced
1 Package Mushrooms
1 Clove Garlic – minced
1 can Cannelini of Great Northern Beans
Olive Oil
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese- Freshly Grated
Salt & Pepper

I like to use Bob’s Red Mill  Polenta (I love their products!). For the most part, I follow the directions on the package with a few exceptions. I use a mix of chicken broth and water and substitute olive oil for the butter.

I would urge you to follow the directions as listed on the polenta you purchase. You want to make sure it cooks thoroughly. Make enough for four servings. 

Cook your polenta until it is smooth and creamy. It should still have some texture and bite to the grains but you don’t want it to be gritty. When it is ready, swirl another drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of the freshly grated Parmesan.

Preheat the oven to 350. While the polenta is cooking, you should cook your sausage. I chose to bake mine, but you could always grill or saute.

In a baking dish, drizzle olive oil then sprinkle sliced onions in the pan. Place the sausage on top of the onions and bake in oven until done. About 30 minutes. Roll them over half way through so that they cook evenly. Make sure sausage is thoroughly cooked.

Over medium heat, saute your mushrooms in a large pan with olive oil, making sure not to crowd them. Add the minced garlic, and be careful not to let it burn. When they are starting to caramelize, add the spinach. Let the spinach wilt and stir into the mushrooms. 
Then add the white beans, leave them there just long enough for them to heat through. They are soft and can become mushy easily, so stir very carefully.  

When the sausage is done, cut it into 1″ pieces. I don’t include the onions in the meal but you could always try it if you’d like.

To plate, using a ladle scoop a portion onto a plate or a shallow bowl. Then add a layer of the veggies, then the sausage and top with the freshly shaved cheese. I use a lot of cheese, a lot. I can’t get enough of the stuff, but I try to exert some cheese self-control and sprinkle just enough for a dusting, over every inch. But you be the judge on how much Parmesan you’d like. 
As a substitution, you can make this with kale which I frequently do. I really enjoy it both ways. The spinach is a little lighter in texture and flavor- but both are tasty! You would follow the same instructions for the kale, it would just need to cook a few minutes longer and would have a firmer texture. 

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