This super easy creamy polenta with vegan ragu is like a warm blanket for your belly. A plant-based recipe that’s ready in 30 minutes, this vegan ragu is likely to become a staple family dinner.
Polenta is one of my favourite side dishes in the world and I like to cook it in many variations. I love it with cottage cheese, with eggs and bacon, and even with fried chicken livers cooked with garlic and wine. Oh, yummy!
But I digress. As of late, I’ve been steering towards a more plant-based diet, and I just had to create a vegan recipe to include polenta.
This is how this creamy vegan polenta with vegan ragu came to be. I got my hands on a pack of “meatless meat” from The Meatless Farm, and I remembered that I had some amazing ragu with polenta when I Iived in Bologna for a while a couple of years ago.
Both the polenta and the ragu in this recipe are vegan, but if you’re not looking for it to be vegan, you can go the vegetarian way and use real parmesan and butter for the polenta. Either way, you’ll be likely to make it time and again, because yes, it is THAT creamy.
What do you need to make vegan polenta?
There’s absolutely no need to use dairy to make the best creamy polenta you have ever tasted. Polenta is an Italian staple, and the original version uses butter and freshly grated Parmigiano, but for this veganised version, you’ll need the following:
- Cornmeal – this is available in multiple grinds, and I suggest you use a medium grind if you like a little texture. I’m not sure about other countries, but the best cornmeal for polenta I could find in the UK is that from Merchant Gourmet, available in Morrisons supermarkets (possible others as well). There is also a Holland & Barrett version that works well, but my local store doesn’t always stock it.
- Vegan butter — some vegan polenta recipes call for olive oil, but I find that the taste changes completely when you use it, so I opt for vegan butter instead.
- Vegan parmesan — this tastes very similar to the real deal, and I’m very happy with its texture. Again, the type of vegan parmesan you can find may differ from country to country.
And that’s all. You can also add a bit of freshly ground pepper as well, but that’s completely optional.
How do you make vegan polenta?
Have a whisk and lid handy. Bring 4 cups (800ml) of salted water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pan (cast iron works great). Just when the water reaches the boiling point, start adding 1 cup (200g) of cornmeal. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
Do it gradually, whisking continuously, or you’re going to end up with lumps. When all the cornmeal is in, whisk for a couple of seconds, then put the lid on, because the polenta is going to start bubbling and it’s hot stuff you don’t want on you.
When you don’t hear any bubbling anymore, remove the lid and whisk the mixture until it thickens. Add the butter and grated parmesan, and whisk again until they’re incorporated well. If you want to use pepper, add it now.
What do you need to make a vegan ragu?
There are lots of ways to make a vegan ragu — you can use mushroom, vegan mince, or soy. I chose a pack of plant-based mince from Meatless Farm, which is made with pea protein instead of soy. I found it cooks exactly like beef mince and tastes super similar.
To make the vegan ragu, start by browning the vegan meat in two or three tablespoons of olive oil. It takes about 7 to 9 minutes to brown; make sure you break it into small pieces in the process.
Remove the meat from the pan and leave aside. Using the same pan, fry 2 chopped onions, then add 2 large portobello mushrooms, broken in small pieces.
When the mushrooms are browned and there’s no more liquid in the pan, deglaze with 1/4 cup dry white wine and add 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp rosemary, 1/4 tsp chilli flakes and 3 cloves of garlic, minced.
Cook for 1 minute, then add the cooked mince back. Stir and add 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1 can chopped tomatoes and 2 cups water. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Ladle the polenta in bowls, top with the ragu, and serve immediately.
Can you freeze this vegan ragu?
Yes, this ragu is perfect for freezing — just make sure you allow it to cool down completely. You can also freeze the polenta, but preferably do it before you add butter and cheese.
Once you are ready to reheat it, you can add these ingredients and it will taste just like freshly made polenta. Try to cut the polenta into serving sizes before freezing so you don’t end up with an unmanageable frozen block.
If you liked this creamy vegan polenta with vegan ragu recipe, check out some of my other vegan recipes:
For the vegan ragu
- 14 oz. (400 g) plant-based mince of choice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 7 oz. (200 g) portobello mushrooms, broken in small pieces
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 14-oz (400 g) can chopped tomatoes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the polenta
- 4 cups (800 ml) water
- 1 cup (200 g) cornmeal
- 2.5 oz (75 g) vegan butter
- 2 oz vegan (50 g) parmesan
- Kosher salt
Make the Vegan Ragu
1. In a large frying pan, brown the vegan meat in 2 tbsp olive oil. Break it up in small pieces and cook for 7-9 minutes.
2. Remove the meat from the pan and leave aside. Using the same pan, fry 2 chopped onions, then add the portobello mushrooms, broken in small pieces.
3. When the mushrooms are browned and there’s no more liquid in the pan, deglaze with the white wine and add all the spices and garlic.
4. Cook for 1 minute, then add the cooked mince back. Stir and add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and 2 cups of water. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Make the polenta
1. While the ragu is simmering, make the polenta.
2. Have a whisk and lid handy. Bring the salted water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pan (cast iron works great). Just when the water reaches the boiling point, start adding the cornmeal gradually, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
3. When all the cornmeal is in, whisk for a couple of seconds, then put the lid on, because the polenta is going to start bubbling and it's hot stuff you don't want on you.
4. When you don't hear any bubbling anymore, remove the lid and whisk the mixture until it thickens. Add the butter and grated parmesan, and whisk again until they're incorporated well. If you want to use pepper, add it now.
5. Ladle the polenta in bowls, top with the ragu, and serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 704Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 790mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 37g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.