Creamy Polenta with Tomato Sauce

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Polenta is not as time-consuming and difficult to make as one might think. This creamy polenta with tomato sauce is made with instant cornmeal, which drastically reduces the prep time.

The recipe is simple and only requires a few quality ingredients to prepare; creamy soft cheese, salty Parmesan, fresh aromatic basil, and sweet, homemade tomato sauce.


Any true Italian might cringe at the thought of using instant polenta. Having said that, I’ve been living in Italy for four months now and I can attest to the fact that they DO, in fact, use it! It’s all about saving time and energy in the kitchen when possible, whatever part of the world you may live in.


This traditional Italian comfort food is ideal for the entire family to enjoy, simply adjust the portions accordingly.


Tomato sauce preparation
(Yields about 1 cup)
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, halved or finely minced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 can diced tomatoes (including liquid)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. dried oregano
4-5 fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp. salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar (optional)

Heat oil in a small saucepan on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and most of the water has evaporated. Add the basil, stir to wilt then turn off the heat.

Polenta Ingredients:
(Yields about 2 cups)
1/2 cup instant cornmeal
2 cups vegetable broth or water
tomato sauce (quantity as desired)
1-2 tbs. Parmesan cheese
1 oz soft cheese, such as Laughing Cow or ricotta
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low then slowly pour in the polenta, whisking  as your pour it.


Whisk continuously in a circular motion until the polenta thickens  (about 3-4 minutes) and begins to comes off the sides of the pan. The polenta should be very smooth and have a uniform consistency.

Take the pan off the heat, add the cheese, Parmesan, and olive oil…


and tomato sauce, and whisk until combined.


Garnish with an extra drizzle of olive oil and more Parmesan. Polenta firms up very quickly so if you prefer a creamier texture this is best served immediately. Alternatively, after cooled slightly, the polenta will have a denser, more uniform consistency.


To soften when reheating add your choice of liquid (water, vegetable broth, formula, breast milk, milk of choice). Heat through then mash with a fork or cut into baby-led weaning friendly bite-sized pieces.


When preparing this particular batch, I set aside half of the creamy polenta for my 9 month old daughter (it made 2 lunches worth) and poured the other half into a shallow tray.


Tomorrow, polenta taters are on the menu!


  • Jennifer Avventura

    I will be trying this recipe this week! Can’t wait!

    • Lisa @bitesforbabies

      If you want hub’s approval, I definitely suggest adding salt and pepper (obviously) and some peperoncino…and maybe a tomato sauce with cinghiale would do the trick!