This balsamic lentil ragu with polenta is made with healthy, umami packed ingredients like mushrooms, miso and soy sauce. Served over warm and creamy sweet corn polenta for a hearty meatless meal in less than 45 minutes!
How to Make Lentil Ragu with Polenta
While traditional ragu is usually simmered for several hours, this recipe is kind of a cheaters version. But don’t worry, all the flavor is still there! You’ll want to start by cooking your lentils. I like to use Puy lentils or French lentils because they hold their shape and don’t end up mushy. Just bring a pot of water to a boil, add the lentils and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the lentils are just tender. Taste as you go to make sure they don’t become overcooked. Do this step up to a day in advance!
I like to have all my vegetables chopped and ready to go before I start cooking. You can do this in a food processor or by hand. Just make sure everything is cut very finely.
Now to make the actual ragu sauce, you’ll sauté an onion and a few other aromatics in olive oil before adding in the mushrooms, tomato paste and Italian seasoning. Cooking the tomato paste for a few minutes with the oil give sit a nice toasty flavor. Pour in some dry red wine and wait for the alcohol to cook off. Finally, dump in those cooked lentils and some chopped tomatoes. Simmer everything together for about 15-20 minutes to let the flavors meld.
There are three main ingredients in here that really take this lentil ragu sauce to the next level. Miso paste, soy sauce and coconut cream. The miso paste adds a strong punch of umami while the soy sauce adds that savory saltiness. Coconut cream is the solid white part in a can of full fat unsweetened coconut milk. It helps thicken the sauce and makes it incredible rich and satisfying. Since the miso tends to clump up, make a slurry using ll these ingredients plus a tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Remove your sauce from the heat and stir everything together. Taste for salt (though its probably salty enough) and add more if needed.
As for the polenta, I like to get it cooking at the same time as the ragu since they take about the same amount of time. Super simple, just some dry grits, fresh corn kernels (frozen works too) honey, olive oil and salt. Bring a pot of water to a boil then add the grits, corn and salt. It’s important to stir it for the first minute of cooking so it doesn’t clump. After that, reduce the heat and cover the pot. Cook the polenta for about 15 minutes, until all the water has absorbed and its super thick. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the honey and olive oil. These go in after to preserve the fruitiness of the oil. Again, taste for salt and add more as needed.
To serve, ladle some warm polenta onto a plate or shallow bowl and top with spoonfuls of lentil ragu. Top with fresh basil and another drizzle of olive oil. I also had some fresh summer cherry tomatoes from a local farmers market that went wonderfully on top.
More Recipe to Try
- Vegan Cacio e Pepe
- Baked vegan rigatoni bolognese
- Lasagna bolognese
- Moroccan spiced lentil burgers
- Italian stuffed peppers with sun-dried tomatoes