Today is our final recipe in the Cooking Light Ground Beef series. I served Italian-Style Beef with Polenta to my family last evening.

It took me a little longer than the recipe’s allotted forty minutes to prepare this dish. I attribute that to the fact that my three year old was in the midst of an intense round of stick-horse rodeo, which naturally, takes place in the kitchen. Also, just prior to the start of the rodeo he loaded most of the items in my pantry into his wagon and hauled them away. The pantry serves as his rodeo chute, don’t you know? So between, dodging bucking horses and tracking down the marinara sauce sitting in a little red wagon (which was parked next to the bathtub, of course) forty minutes was probably not realistic for me. Anyhow…

My family really enjoyed this dish. The meat sauce is simple and delicious. Choosing a good marinara sauce will make a big difference. Cooking Light recommends McCutcheon’s. Use what you and your family enjoy.

Haven’t tried polenta? No worries! It takes a little time, about twenty minutes, and a lot of stirring, but is really quite simple to prepare. I liked that this recipe adds oregano to the polenta and my kids loved that it was cheesy! Polenta is a nice change of pace from the usual pasta with meat sauce. Give it a try!


Italian-Style Beef with Polenta

Total time: 40 min.
Serves 4


1 C. dry coarse-ground polenta
1 tsp. dried oregano
Dash of kosher salt
2 C. water
1 C 2% reduced-fat milk
¾ C. (3 oz.) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
cooking spray
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 C. chopped onion
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 C. lower-sodium marinara sauce
½ C. torn fresh basil
  1. Place first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan. Gradually add 2 cups water and milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/3 cup cheese.
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; coat with cooking spray. Add beef; sauté 5 minutes. Stir to crumble. Remove beef; drain. Wipe pan; coat with cooking spray. Add onion, pepper, 1/8 tsp. salt, and garlic; sauté for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beef and sauce; simmer 8 minutes.
  3. Divide polenta evenly among 4 shallow bowls. Top each serving with 1 cup beef mixture; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cheese and 2 tablespoons basil.