Soft polenta with white bean, squash, and sage ragout

March 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm (Beans, F (0 stars, inedible), Fall recipes, Peter Berley, Winter recipes)

I made this recipe from Peter Berley’s cookbook Modern Vegetarian Kitchen back when I lived in Pittsburgh, and I remember not liking it very much.  But when I was in California last month I was discussing vegetarian cookbooks with a friend of Kathy and Spoons’s, and she had Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.  I asked her what her favorite recipe was and she chose this one!  I thought maybe I screwed it up last time and so I decided to try it again.


  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 lb. Butternut squash
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1-inch piece ginger
  • 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked Great Northern beans
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh sage
  • 2-inch cinnamon stick

My notes:

In addition to the white beans, winter squash, and sage, the recipe calls for tomatoes, ginger, and cinnamon.  It seems like a strange combination—sage and squash I can imagine, and squash and cinnamon, but sage and squash and cinnamon and ginger and tomatoes?  What a strange set of ingredients.

The recipe recipe calls for a mix of grits and cornmeal, but I used polenta.  Last time I remember I couldn’t really taste the sage so I added more sage than the recipe calls for.  Other than that I followed the recipe pretty carefully.

Also, by the end of the cooking time my squash had almost entirely fallen apart, which I don’t think was supposed to happen.  The end result was a slightly gritty almost puree of tomato sauce and squash, with beans floating in it.  Perhaps I cut my squash into pieces that were small?  Or I had the heat up too high?

Not only did I fid the texture offputting, but I really didn’t like the flavor!  The ragout still wasn’t very sage-y, but I just didn’t like the sweetness of the cinnamon and squash and ginger with the more savory flavors of the tomatoes and white beans and sage.  Isn’t it strange that two people could have such a different reaction to the same recipe?

Derek wouldn’t eat the polenta at all. (He hasn’t liked any soft polenta I’ve made since I stopped buying my polenta from the East End Coop in Pittsburgh.)  He didn’t dislike the ragout as much as I did, but he didn’t really care for it either.

1 Comment

  1. kcopic said,

    Hey Rose! People do have different tastes, certainly, but also different ingredients can also make recipes so different. You mention the polenta here, but the squash or slightly more or less oil or salt or something could also make the difference? I was just talking yesterday to a vegan friend who moved back from Geneva, Switzerland, to the US. She said all of her best baking recipes from the last five years don’t work with the US flour at all!

    Next time you’re in SF, we can ask M to make her version for you to try. 🙂

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