Polenta is the Italian name for boiled cornmeal. When boiled with water, milk, or stock, the cornmeal becomes soft and takes on a porridge-like consistency. It can be made in sweet or savory preparations. For a sweet version, mix a spoonful of brown sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup into the polenta. Want to try something a bit richer? Add a handful of Parmesan cheese or a dash of fresh herbs to the cooked cornmeal, as we did here.

Cheesy polenta serves as the base to this wild mushroom Bolognese sauce. The wild mushrooms produce anti-cancer and immune-boosting benefits, while potentially aiding in weight loss. They also possess a meaty texture that pairs well with the carrots, celery, and onions in the sauce. Because most of the vegetables are pulsed in a food processor, grinding them into small pieces, this is a great – and tricky way – to incorporate extra healthful ingredients into a meal, especially for the non-veggie-lovers in the crowd!

Polenta with Wild Mushroom Bolognese (Serves 4)


For the polenta:

  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the wild mushroom Bolognese:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 6-ounces assorted wild mushrooms (if you can’t find wild mushrooms, you can substitute for a mix of Cremini and White Button varieties.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes


  1. To make the polenta (you can do this before you make the Bolognese, or while the Bolognese is simmering.): Bring the stock to a boil.
  2. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal, removing any lumps as you go.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow the cornmeal to cook for approximately 15-20 minutes, until thickened. It should have a similar consistency to porridge.
  4. Remove the polenta from the heat, and stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  5. To make the Bolognese: Place the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped – but not pureed. Set aside.
  6. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, in a large pot. Add the chopped vegetables to the pot. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, just until tender.
  7. Add the spices and mushrooms to the pan. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, until all of the water has evaporated from the mushrooms.
  8. Pour in the red wine, scraping up any brown bits that have accumulated at the bottom of the pan.
  9. Add the tomatoes to the mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  10. Serve the sauce atop the polenta.

What’s your favorite healthy wintertime comfort food?


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