Gabe and I picked this recipe today because we were looking for something delicious, of course, and yet didn’t require too many ingredients or time. We also wanted to pair this with an amazing salad recipe (that is soon to make an appearance on Cooking in the Creek). I have fond memories of eating Polenta every time I visited my Nonna. It’s an Italian staple! The taste of this Marinara sauce reminds me of hers, simple, classic and authentic Italian. The flavors of the cheesy polenta and the simplicity of the marinara make for a comforting dish that will make your taste buds sing! Buon Appetito!

Me on my Nonna’s lap

Nonna and Meggy
Cheesy Polenta with Marinara - 1

Cheesy Polenta with Marinara - 5

Cheesy Polenta with Marinara - 2

Cheesy Polenta with Marinara - 3

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Cheesy Polenta with Marinara - 7

Cheesy Polenta with Marinara - 8

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 to 5 servings


For Polenta

2 cups water

2 cups milk

1 cup polenta

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated Fontina cheese

2 tablespoons butter

Marinara sauce (recipe below) or quality jarred pasta sauce for serving

Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

For Marinara Sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced or sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes (whole)

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced


For Marinara Sauce

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add garlic. Cook for 2 minutes or until very lightly browned. Add tomatoes to skillet and season with sugar, red pepper flakes and salt. Break up tomatoes, lower to simmer and cook for about 25 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Add basil, stir and serve.

For Polenta

Bring water and milk to a boil in a large saucepan.

Add polenta, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring often.

Whisk in kosher salt and pepper. Add grated cheeses, whisking until cheese melts, then add butter and stir in until combined. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Serve with prepared marinara sauce and extra grated Parmesan cheese. Top with fresh basil as garnish.

Recipe inspired by FoodieCrush.