2 Tbs. olive oil

2 large shallots, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, smashed

2 fresh oregano sprigs

2 Tbs. dry white wine

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

2 1/2 lb. cherry, grape tomatoes, or roma tomatoes, halved or left whole if small

2 cups instant polenta

3 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh basil


In a large, heavy fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallots and celery and sauté until lightly golden, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano sprigs and cook for 1 minute more. Pour in the wine, vinegar and the 2 Tbs. water and stir to scrape up the browned bits on the pan bottom. Transfer the contents of the pan to a slow cooker. Stir in the tomatoes, the 1/2 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper. Cover and cook on low 3 to 4 hours, stirring 2 or 3 times if possible. The tomatoes should be mostly broken down and the sauce should be juicy. Remove and discard the oregano sprigs.

Follow the directions on your box of polenta.


This chunky ragù can also be spooned over grilled fish, chicken or pork or simply tossed with pasta. The cherry tomatoes collapse in the slow cooker but are still identifiable, which contributes to the rustic charm of the dish. To create a more refined ragù, scoop out one-fourth of the sauce and puree it in a food processor, then stir the puree back in.