Creamy Polenta with Burst Cherry Tomato and Red Wine Ragout

Laced with ribbons of hearty greens, Julia Sullivan's savory garden tomato ragout pops with bright flavor, the perfect accompaniment to a canvas of creamy polenta. The polenta is cooked with milk for a comforting vegetarian main. Garlic and basil punch up this modern classic; it's an easy addition to your weeknight rotation.


    • 3 cups whole milk 
    • 2 cups water 
    • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
    • 4 (5-inch) thyme sprigs
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 cup uncooked coarse-ground polenta 
    • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil 
    • 4 cups mixed cherry tomatoes (such as Black Cherry, Sun Gold, and Green Zebra) 
    • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced 
    • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more to taste
    • 1 cup (8 ounces) dry red wine
    • 2 cups thinly sliced leafy greens (such as Swiss chard, lacinato kale, tatsoi, or napa cabbage)  
    • ⅓ cup thinly sliced fresh basil, plus torn leaves, for garnish
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces 
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice  


Make the polenta
  1. Bring milk, 2 cups water, garlic, thyme, salt, and black pepper to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; remove and discard garlic and thyme, and bring to a gentle simmer. Gradually add polenta in a slow stream, whisking constantly until thickened. Return to a gentle simmer over medium-low. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pot often, until tender and creamy, 30 to 35 minutes.

While polenta cooks, make the ragout
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high just until fragrant. Carefully add tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until most of the tomatoes have burst and juices start to release, 8 to 10 minutes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to stick to bottom of pan and sauce has thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add red wine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until a glossy sauce forms, about 10 minutes. Add greens, and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 30 seconds. Stir in sliced basil and butter. Remove from heat, and stir in lemon juice. Season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  2. Divide polenta evenly among bowls; top with ragout. Garnish servings with torn basil