Tuscan lentil ragu with cheesy polenta

Tuscan lentil ragu with cheesy polenta

If you think that lentils are bland and boring hippy food — think again! People from Mediterranean and Asian cultures have been the turning the humble lentil into highly appetizing dishes for thousands of years.

That's why, if you browse through our recipes you'll regularly come across recipes with lentils either playing the main role or a supporting part. Some yummy examples include warming and comforting soups like Lebanese lentil and spinach soup; Turkish carrot, tomato and lentil soup; and Provençal lentil, cabbage and bacon soup. Mouthwatering main dishes like Greek-style lentil and eggplant bake; Lentil, pea and potato curry; and Lentil and tuna Bolognese. And scrumptious salads like French herbed lentil salad; Sweet potato and lentil salad with baby spinach, walnuts and feta; and Greek lentil salad.

Lentils can even be turned into tasty and "meaty" kofta, that can be eaten as an appetizer or made into large patties and served as protein-rich meatless burgers. And lentils also work beautifully in this Italian ragu — especially when combined with soft cheesy polenta!

Tuscan lentil ragu with cheesy polenta
serves 2
A rustic, tomatoey Tuscan rugu with delicate brown lentils, zucchini and carrots served with cheesy soft polenta. You can also easily turn this recipe into an opulent tuna and lentil ragu by adding bite-size pieces of fresh tuna for the final 5 minutes of cooking.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion—finely chopped
1 carrot—diced
1 zucchini—diced
3 cloves garlic—finely chopped
¾ teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ cup red wine
14 oz (400g) canned chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup canned brown lentils
2½ cups boiling water
½ cup instant polenta
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
HEAT 2 tablespoons of the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onion and carrot for 4 minutes. ADD the zucchini and cook for a further 4 minutes. ADD the garlic and rosemary and cook for 2 minutes. ADD the wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, water, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 6 minutes. ADD the lentils and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. WHILE the ragu cooks, place the boiling water in a saucepan and return to a boil. REDUCE the heat to medium-low then slowly pour in the polenta in a stream and cook, stirring constantly, for around 3 minutes, until thickened. REMOVE from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. STIR the reserved tablespoon of olive oil into the ragu. SERVE at once with the polenta.