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Creamy Polenta with Tomato-Corn Ragout

Yield 4 TO 6
Like pasta, polenta can be a quick main dish any time of the year. If you use nonstick pans, cleanup is fast too.


  • 8 cups water
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse polenta (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 4 ears)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded jalapeño
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes--cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
  • 4 thyme sprigs, for garnish

How to Make It

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium nonstick saucepan. Add a pinch of salt, then slowly add the polenta in a steady, thin stream, stirring constantly, to avoid lumps. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring often, until tender and very thick, about 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the mascarpone, the Parmesan and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

  2. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the corn and jalapeño and cook until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook until just warmed through and some of the tomato juices have been released, about 5 minutes. Stir in the basil and mint.

  3. Stir the polenta; add a little hot water if it is too thick and spoon into bowls. Top with the tomato-corn ragout, garnish with thyme sprigs and serve hot. Pass more of the mascarpone cheese at the table.

  4. Wine Recommendation: A round, rich Merlot would complement the polenta perfectly and have enough edge to balance the sauce. Consider the 1995 Meerlust from South Africa or the 1996 Silverado from California.