More Than Soup

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The glories of Fall vegetables are upon us.  Who is pumped?!  I know I am. I love fall weather and the food that goes with it to warm my belly.  I cannot wait until it starts to really get chilly here in Texas (which is…when?)  The cool mornings are teasing me, that is for sure.  But, even if there aren’t 60 degree days yet, I am still encouraged to make soup, chili, and pull out the Crock Pot.. even though I do that all year round, I think.  Typically I associate certain vegetables with preparing them a certain way.  Seriously, let us brainstorm- Think potatoes- roast or mash, right?  Same with butternut squash- immeadiately I’m thinking, soup- yum!  BUT, as you have seen with some of my other recipes, you can do almost anything with them.  Experimenting with the veg makes for a fun and interesting evening- welllll..for me at least.  I can easily see how someone may get overwhelmed with the task.  Anyway, polenta has become one of my (and the fireman’s )new favorite grains- what is better that parmesan polenta?  OR, garlic polenta?  OR….or..or.. butternut squash polenta?  Perfection.  I made a mushroom ragu to serve over top.  The sweetness of the squash in the polenta paired very nicely with the chicken sausage (same reason why my fireman puts honey, yes..honey in his spaghetti sauce-I love when he cooks that for dinner! I believe he uses my leeeeetle measuring cup as to not go overboard with the honey..its another one of those too much of a good thing gone bad.)  What other vegetables are you favorites for Fall?  Sugar pumpkins and Butternut Squash tops my list! 

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Mushroom Ragu
over Butternut Squash Polenta 

INGREDIENTS:
Ragu:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
6 chicken sausage links (I used Hans All Natural  Roasted Red Pepper & Garlic Chicken Sausage)
1 medium onion, chopped
16 ounces (~2 8-oz containers) Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup red wine
Polenta:
2 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked polenta (often called coarse cornmeal, or corn grits)
1 (~1 1/2 pounds) butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
1 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking Spray

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DIRECTIONS:
Prehaet the oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange squash, cut side up, in large roasting pan or baking sheet sprayed generously with cooking spray.  Drizzle a teaspoon of oil over both halves, rubbing in to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Turn cut side down and bake until squash is tender, about 40-45 minutes. Cool slightly. Peel squash, and  transfer to processor or blender and puree.  Set aside.   Reserve 1 and 1/2 cup puree.**

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Remove sausage from casings. Add sausage to pan and sauté until browned, continuously stirring to crumble to prevent sticking to the pan. Remove sausage from pan.  Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden. Add mushrooms; sauté 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in sausage, 1/8 teaspoon salt, wine and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium; simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. While Ragu simmers, bring broth and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add polenta, stirring well. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 15 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, cheese, and butternut squash. Serve with sausage mixture.

 Nutrition Information
Serves 4, (Serving size: 1 cup polenta and 1 cup ragù)

                                                                          Calories: 475
                                                                              Fat: 11.7 g

Carbohydrate: 54.3 g
Fiber: 7.2 g
Protein: 30.5 g

** Any left over butternut squash puree can be frozen for later use. Polenta can be made 1 day ahead. Just cover and chill. Stir over medium-low heat until heated through.

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