Polenta is a northern Italian staple and can used in a similar way to mashed potatoes, or if allowed to set, cut into shapes and fried until golden brown. In this recipe a creamy herbed polenta takes the place of pasta as the base for a rich Bolognese sauce.


250g mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, peeled, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped
500g beef mince
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tin diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons dried Italian herb mix
1 cup instant polenta
¼ cup parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve


  1. Heat a large pan with a drizzle of oil over high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
  2. Return pan to heat with more oil if needed, add onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add mince and cook over high heat, breaking it up with the back of a spoon, cook until lightly browned.
  3. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute before adding 1 tablespoon of herbs and tinned tomatoes along with 1 tin of water. Season well with salt and pepper, return mushrooms to the pan and cook for 10 minutes or until thickened. Check seasoning. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. In a pan, combine 4 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, remaining herbs and a large pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and slowly add polenta in a steady steam, stirring constantly with a whisk or a fork until the mix thickens. Turn heat down to lowest setting and cook for 5 minutes or until thick, stirring to ensure it doesn’t catch and burn on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Stir parmesan through polenta and divide between plates. Top with ragu and extra parmesan.

Serves 4


  • Instant polenta has already been cooked therefore it only takes a fraction of the time to cook compared to traditional polenta which needs to be cooked for 30 minutes or longer
  • Slowly adding the polenta to the water will help to prevent lumps from forming
  • Polenta is traditionally made with butter which is not practical for on the road, however if making it at home swap the oil for butter for a more traditional flavour


  • Pasta or mashed potato can be used in place of polenta
  • A pinch of chilli can be added to the ragu
  • Turkey, pork or veal mince can be used in place of beef

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