Polenta With Meat Sauce

Polenta With Meat Sauce

I didn’t discover polenta until about 7 or 8 years ago, and boy, was I glad I did!  If you have never tried polenta, this is a great starter recipe.  This Polenta with Meat Sauce is healthy, easy, and comes together quick for a delicious weeknight dinner.

Polenta is made from ground cornmeal.  It is best to look for “stone-ground” cornmeal, as this keeps as much of the whole grain intact as possible.  You can make polenta into a creamy dish, kind of like gritty mashed potatoes.  You can also cook it, cool it, and then grill or fry slabs of it.  For this recipe, I went with the creamy texture.

Regular polenta needs to cook on low heat for a longer period of time, but there is also an instant version, which is just as nutritious.  A half cup of cooked polenta has about 70 calories and less than one gram of fat.  It is very filling, so you really wouldn’t need more than a half cup.

For this recipe, I started with the meat sauce.  This involved cooking chopped onion, garlic, and ground beef in a skillet until the meat was browned.  Then I added in my favorite marinara sauce.  You can certainly make your own, but for a weeknight dinner, a jar works just fine for me.  Plus I’m not Italian, so I think I get a pass for that.

While the meat sauce was heating through, I started the polenta.  When you make instant polenta, you can use whatever liquid you want, but I think the best way is a combination of water and milk.  I also throw in some oregano and grated Parmesan cheese to add another layer of flavor to this dish.  I just followed the directions on the box of polenta.  It cooks up really fast and requires constant stirring, so save it for last.  You also want to be able to serve it right away before it hardens up on you.

Once the polenta is done, it’s time to plate it up.  You didn’t believe me that it was going to be this easy, did you?  Spoon about a half cup of polenta on each plate.  Top with meat sauce, fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese.  This dish pairs perfectly with a nice green salad, and will keep you full for the rest of the evening.  Enjoy!

Polenta With Meat Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

Polenta With Meat Sauce


  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • fresh basil
  • extra grated Parmesan cheese for topping


  1. Cook the beef, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir to crumble until the beef is browned, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add jar of marinara sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. While the sauce is simmering, cook the polenta. In a medium saucepan, add the polenta and oregano. Turn the heat on high. Add the water and milk slowly, and stir with a whisk.
  4. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir with whisk constantly for 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.
  5. Add grated Parmesan cheese and mix.
  6. Divide the polenta onto 4 plates. Top with meat sauce, fresh basil and more grated Parmesan cheese.

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