Did you hear about this $5 Slow Food Challenge? It was a challenge for people to cook at home on Saturday, September 17, for less than $5 a serving. To be honest, this wasn't much of a challenge for me. Not a challenge at all, actually. I would bet that most (if not all) of the recipes I make and the recipes on this blog cost less than $5 a serving. We live on one income, so $5 a serving seems kind of high to me! But I decided to play along and chose this Cooking Light recipe because it looked really good and the cost per serving was included with the recipe so I didn't have to do any math! The cost of this recipe is around $2.49 a serving, so less than half of the suggested cost for the challenge. Pretty good!
Mushroom and Sausage Ragu with Polenta
1½ tbsp olive oil, divided
8 oz. Italian sausage
½ cup chopped onion
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, grated
1 (8 oz.) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
3½ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 cup uncooked instant polenta
1 tbsp butter
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1½ tsp oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan; drain off fat.
Add 1 tbsp oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in sausage and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, or until tomato sauce has reduced. Combine cornstarch and 1¼ cups broth. Stir into mushroom sausage sauce. Reduce heat to medium; simmer gently for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if necessary.
Bring remaining broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add polenta, stirring well. Polenta will firm up quickly; add more stock if it gets too thick. Stir in butter.
To serve, place some polenta on a plate or a bowl and top with the mushroom sausage sauce.
Makes 4 servings, $2.49 per serving.
I did change a few things about the original recipe. It called for chunks of tomatoes instead of the sauce, but I didn't want chunks in it (hubby is not a fan of tomato chunks) and I kind of wanted it to be saucier anyway since it was being served over polenta. So I added some broth and thickened the sauce with cornstarch.
I also used instant polenta instead of regular. The regular takes about 20 minutes to cook while the instant takes about 20 seconds! I know this is a "slow food" challenge (oh the irony!), but I always have instant polenta on hand so that's what I used. I also used regular tomato sauce, but I suggest using the no-salt-added kind because, since it reduces, it ends up being a tad on the salty side. Next time I will use the no salt kind.
This dish was a huge hit in our house. My husband, who doesn't usually care for mushrooms too much, couldn't shovel it in fast enough, and my three-year-old loved it too. It was really easy to throw together and makes a great weeknight meal.