creamy polenta with mushroom ragu

Creamy Polenta with Mushroom Ragu Recipe

Recipe By: Chef Elly Vos
Ready in 1 hour, Serves 2 

“Don’t forget-ta the polenta!” – A lot of people. Just trust us.


Polenta is a hearty, delicious dish that has served as a staple in Italian culture for many years. Because of its simple yet filling nature, Chef Elly at The Co-Op at 1st decided to make it a staple in her recipe book as well!


What makes polenta so great is its versatility. It can be flavored with a ton of different toppings but to make it a truly filling meal, Chef Elly has devised the perfect combination of ingredients to fuel your body for the days to come. Yep, it’s really THAT good! 


Chef Elly creates the pre-made meals which are included in the co-op food box (known as My Food Box), so you can try a few of her amazing recipes when you order delivery or pick up for your food box at The Co-Op at 1st (located on 1st near Sheridan). She believes in meals that can last longer than just one meal which is why this polenta is her go-to. After a few bites, you’ll understand what makes this dish the gift that keeps on giving! 


Polenta can serve as a wonderful, creamy base for just about any type of food! You can top it with steak, eggs, or in this case, a delicious mushroom Ragu. Another great thing about polenta is the ingredients are all affordable and accessible – most of them can be found at our indoor, year-round farmers market.


One of the things that makes this recipe so delicious is its thoughtful blend of tastes and textures. The oregano, basil, and thyme create a classically intriguing aroma while the meaty texture of mushrooms and tomatoes are perfectly balanced by the creamy polenta and tender kale.


It’s important to note that if you are storing leftovers of this recipe, you will want to put the Ragu and the polenta in separate containers. Better yet, re-purpose these leftovers for your next meal! Ragu is the perfect addition to a pasta dish, and polenta pairs well with eggs and/or fried in a skillet with some butter. Whichever way you use them, these are the leftovers that you’ll want for yourself. 


This recipe is approachable for any level of chef, whether you are a beginner or a pro like Chef Elly. Enjoy it while it’s hot and let us know what other types of recipes you’d like to see from her!


Now without further adieu, check out Chef Elly’s amazing Creamy Polenta with Mushroom Ragu (that rhymed) recipe:

creamy polenta with mushroom ragu


For Polenta

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the Ragu

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion diced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12-15 mushrooms washed and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 10 fresh tomatoes diced OR 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch kale washed, destemmed, torn, and massaged
  • 1/2 lemon juiced


  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet and add the olive oil. Heat until shimmering. Add the diced onions and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stirring occasionally, allow the onions to gently brown. About 5-10 minutes. 
  2. Add the garlic and allow it to cook until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic. About 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the basil, oregano, thyme, and tomato paste. Stir until well combined and allow to cook until the tomato paste becomes a dark red. About 2 minutes. 
  4. Add the mushrooms. Stir until well coated. 
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes. The sauce should thicken as the liquid from the tomatoes cooks off. Season with salt and pepper to taste throughout the simmering process. 
  6. While the Ragu is simmering, prepare the kale. I highly recommend massaging the kale before adding it to the Ragu, It will make it more tender and less bitter. To massage the kale, crunch the torn leaves with your hands. The kale will become darker and less rigid. With five minutes remaining in the cooking process, add the fresh lemon juice and the massaged kale. 

For the Polenta

  1. Bring the water and milk to a boil in a heavy-duty saucepan or small Dutch oven. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
  2. Gradually sprinkle the cornmeal into the pan while whisking at the same time. Turn the heat to a very low simmer, cover, and continue to cook the polenta for 25 – 30 minutes, until it’s thick, fluffy, and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. When it’s done, remove from the heat and stir in the butter, cheese, and additional salt to taste if needed.

Serve in small bowls with a bottom layer of polenta. Spoon the mushroom and kale Ragu over the polenta. Serve garnished with fresh parsley, parmesan, and crushed red pepper. 

For more recipes like this, keep checking our blog, follow us on social or enjoy our pre-made meals through our My Food Box subscription!