Yes, vegetables are a crucial component of a vegetarian diet but they are far from your only option! Sometimes you just need to have a bowl of happiness that resembles (if not wallops!) an old favorite.
This quick dish provides a lovely side dish for your non-veg friends at Thanksgiving OR produces a big ol’ bowl just for you while watching back-to-back episodes of Grey’s Anatomy on a rainy day. Not that I would know anything about that…
¼ of a ‘polenta tube’* diced into 1 inch cubes (ish!)
1 Morningstar Farms Italian Sausage
¼ sweet onion, finely diced
½ stalk celery, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 big pinch each – Dry thyme, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper
I should say a bit about fake meats before continuing on with the recipe. I ate a LOT of fake meats when I first became vegetarian. For forty years, the overwhelming majority of my meals looked about the same on my plate...
Large piece of protein + smaller pile of carb + the hint of a vegetable = Meal.
Changing the look of my plate took some getting used to and fake meats helped bridge the gap. I’m a huge proponent of zero criticism of diet while newly minted vegetarians are starting out. Whatever you have to do to piece together 24 hour periods is just fine by me!
Once I got the hang of “no meat”, I knew I had to get closer to “no processing”. Ever check out the list of ingredients on a Boca Burger package? Do it – it’s biblical. I have since moved away from the fakes and do my best to include them only once or twice per month. THAT is why I feel A-OK about eating a "fauxsage" on occasion. I hope you enjoy it!
Spray a sauté pan with a little non-stick spray and place the frozen sausage in the pan. Turn every 30 seconds or so until all sides have a little browning. Pour 3 tablespoons of water into the pan and cover with a lid. Let it sizzle away until all of the water has evaporated. Move the sausage over to one corner of the pan.
Spray a little more non-stick spray on your remaining cooking surface in the pan and toss in the onion and celery. Cook approximately 3 minutes and then add the garlic for 30 seconds.
Next, add the polenta cubes and “pinches”. Let the cubes sit for a minute or so to crisp up and then flip each piece to crisp the other side. Once you’ve got a little crust going on both sides, begin to stir things around a bit. Introduce the onions, celery and garlic to their newly seasoned friend polenta. They should all be eyeing the sausage in the corner at this point.
Use the end of your spatula to cut the sausage into six pieces(ish). These sausages crumble a little which is ideal. As you continue to toss everything together in the pan, crispy little pieces of polenta will mix with the brown bits from the sausage and the familiar stuffing spices to create yumminess. Feel free to break down the polenta and sausage as much as you like! For the picture below, I was too hungry to mess around with making smaller bits OR checking to see that my camera was in focus! Sorry about that...
After everything is mixed nicely and piping hot, remove from the stove and eat promptly. There is no waiting as the sausages do not “travel well”. Heat & Eat on this one! Oh, and give my regards to Derrick and Meredith
*I'm a big fan of the polenta tube on a couple of levels. First, it requires no refrigeration, water in a pan or measuring. In fact, the little printed ruler on the side of the packaging does all of the measuring for you! It's also cheap and keeps for quite a while in the fridge after opening. All great qualities!