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Tonight’s Dinner: Bolognese over polenta

Making marinara sauce from scratch takes time and energy, but by adding a few spices and some ground beef to the jarred sauce, you’ll turn that store-bought brand into something homemade.

I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe in taking shortcuts. I don’t like to use box cake mixes and I don’t like to use jarred tomato sauce. However, once I had a baby, all that changed. I no longer had the time to measure out all the cups of flour and sugar or dice those fresh tomatoes and herbs. Once you have a toddler running around, it’s all about “How can I cook a delicious, healthy dinner in a short amount of time?” The easy answer: shortcuts. So, yes, I’ve broken down and started buying those jars of tomato sauce. Surprisingly some of them are actually quite delicious.

Don’t worry though, I haven’t completely given up on making stuff from scratch. While I’m using those jars a lot more than I used to, I’m still making them my own by adding a little more basil or oregano or going even further and chopping up some garlic or onions. Just by adding one or two extra ingredients to an already delicious jar of sauce, you can heighten that sauce into something that could almost be called homemade. Add it to polenta or some ravioli and you’ve just created a delicious home cooked meal in about half the time it would’ve taken had you started from scratch.

So, while I still measure and chop on a regular basis, every so often I’ll pick up a jar of sauce at the market to keep on the shelf. It’s nice to have that safety net for those days when I just don’t have the time to make dinner from scratch.

Bolognese Over Polenta


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1, 24-ounce jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tube heat and serve polenta
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. In a large skillet, break up the ground beef and cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes; add basil, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned; drain fat from pan.
  2. Stir in marinara sauce and peas and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until heated through.
  3. While the sauce simmers, slice the polenta and heat it in a large skillet over medium heat. Transfer 3 to 4 pieces of polenta to a plate; spoon the sauce over it, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and serve.

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