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Overhead view of the finished Sausage-Pepper Ragu with Polenta, sprinkled with chopped parsley and ready to serve.

Italian Sausage-Pepper Ragu with Polenta

This is pure Italian comfort food! Done in under an hour, it's perfect for a weeknight meal. Leftovers are even better the next day!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 3 – 6


  • Large, heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven with lid.



  • 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 lb Italian sausage links hot or mild
  • 1 sweet onion sliced
  • 2 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 sweet bell peppers sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp Asian fish sauce (optional; see Recipe Note #1)
  • 1/2 cup red wine see Recipe Note #2
  • 14 oz canned diced tomatoes drained
  • 14 oz tomato sauce


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta corn grits
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley chopped
  • 1/4 cup Romano cheese grated



  • Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the sausages on 2 sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.
  • Saute the onions and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, start the polenta (see below). Add the peppers and crushed pepper flakes (if using); saute until soft, about 5 additional minutes. Add the fish sauce (if using; see Recipe Note #1). Turn the heat to high and add the wine, scraping skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen any fond on the bottom. Return the sausages to the skillet. Add the diced tomatoes and sauce.
  • Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Check the sauce for seasoning, adjusting as needed. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with the polenta.


  • Bring 2 cups water to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Vigorously whisk in 1 cup polenta corn grits. When completely combined, whisk in 1 cup of cold water. Add salt and pepper; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally. After ~25 minutes, when polenta is soft, add 1 tbsp Romano cheese and 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.



  1. The fish sauce adds salty umami in the background. You won't taste fish. If you are not using fish sauce, add 1/4 tsp salt to the sauce.
  2. Use a full-bodied red like cabernet sauvignon—good enough to enjoy a glass with your dinner.
MEAL PREP: you can prep the vegetables in advance to shave 10 minutes off your total preparation time!