Dinner Tonight: Polenta with Mushroom Ragu

This may look like a mess, but I promise it all works out in the end. After last week's adventure with polenta I couldn't wait to get back in. It was such a brilliant base for the flavors of the kale that I had this crazy idea about making a red sauce loaded with mushrooms—sort of like a vegetarian ragu. Or at least that's what I thought.

Problem was, I couldn't find an all-encompassing recipe that I liked. Most recipes for the mushroom ragu involved pouring it over grilled polenta, which I didn't feel like doing. So I cobbled together a few different sources and created this dish of polenta with mushroom ragu. The directions for the polenta came from my previous recipe and I found the ragu recipe at How Stuff Works, assuming it would be fine over the polenta. In my version of the recipe I used oyster mushrooms that I snagged from the Korean Market. They have a much different texture than cremini or button, but either would work.

Though it's not exactly authentic, it ended up working out. It's a rich, satisfying main that's not too heavy.

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a freelance writer in Chicago. He is the co-founder of The Paupered Chef and spends most of his time playing with the new cooking gadgets he got from his wedding.

Dinner Tonight: Polenta with Mushroom Ragu

About This Recipe


  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 pound oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14-ounce can tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. 1

    Pour the milk and water into a medium-sized pot. Bring to a simmer and then slowly whisk in the polenta. Simmer over medium-low for 20 minutes until the mixture is thick.

  2. 2

    Meanwhile, pour the oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Dump in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Bring mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. 3

    Add the butter and Parmesan to the polenta, stir well, and turn off the heat.

  4. 4

    Scoop some polenta into a bowl and then spoon over some of the mushroom ragu.


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