There really was nothing in the kitchen. Nothing that I could cook quickly, anyway. So it was either order in (which we do every couple of weeks) or starve (perhaps I’m being dramatic here…) By the time I got home from a busy clinic day, it was 9pm, and honestly I wanted to order in. I really did. But I was famished and I thought even ordering in would take too long. So I whipped together this filling, spicy, bowl of polenta and beans. (I really do cook a lot of polenta, right?) It definitely helped that I had a ripe avocado and pickled red onions to inspire me! And even though this epitomizes a throw-it-together-pantry dinner, I will definitely make it again. The whole thing took 15 minutes from start to finish!

Polenta and Bean Bowl

  • 1 cup coarse corn meal
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • Jarred salsa (we usually buy Green Mountain Gringo Hot or Medium)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Pickled red onions
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, and add 1 cup cornmeal, turn down heat, and stir for a few minutes until cornmeal magically turns into polenta. When thickened, stir in 1 T olive oil, and 1-2 cloves chopped garlic.
  2. Meanwhile, heat beans with the salsa until heated through.
  3. Serve the polenta topped with the bean mixture and garnished with sliced avocado and pickled red onions.

A note about canned beans: There has been A LOT of press about the safety of the Bisphenol-A (BPA) content of canned products lately. While I do tend to use BPA-free tomatoes in cartons (Pomi is my favorite), I do keep canned beans in my pantry for nights like this, and I probably will continue to do so. However, as part of our CSA this summer, in addition to our veggies, tomato, herb and garlic shares from Golden Earthworm, and a fruit share from Briermere, we signed up for a grain, bean and flour share from Cayuga Pure Organics. Actually, we were so excited that we signed up for 2 shares of each–we’ll be getting 2 pounds of beans, 2 pounds of grain, and 4 pounds of flour per month. So I will be experimenting with cooking many more dried beans over the next 6 months. I am super stoked to have virtually ALL of our food needs met by local, organic, sustainable producers. Go Tuv Ha’Aretz CSA!

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11 thoughts on “Pantry Polenta and Beans

  • May 27, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Such a pretty little dish for a 15 minute thing! An inspiration for those nights when I come home starving at 9pm!

    PS That’s a funny name for a salsa. Is it Green-Mountain-Gringo Hot or Green-Mountain Gringo-Hot, as in, it’s hot for gringos but not for natives?

  • May 28, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Thanks, Hilla! I wish it was the latter (Gringo-Hot), but alas, I think it is the former. Thanks for a laugh, though! And try the salsa–it IS great. And perfectly spiced for this gringo.

  • May 28, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Sounds great! I’m working towards incorporating more dried beans in our diet too, rather than canned. Canned are convenient, but dried are cheaper, and I can prepare them correctly, causing less stress on my sensitive digestive system. They freeze well – so I make up a large batch and freeze in “can-sized” portions. I also do the same when I come across fresh peas in the spring and summer (around here, the farmers markets are full of blackeyed peas, cream peas, and purple hull peas – yum!). Love this dish – polenta and beans are always a winner!

  • May 28, 2010 at 10:38 am

    first: yum. second: the salsa? it’s good because it comes from vermont. and everything that comes from vermont is good.

  • June 13, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Alta. Question–what do you freeze your beans in?
    Kristen: Amen.

  • June 19, 2010 at 4:46 am

    Elissa just suggested this blog to me because it’s my first summer with local produce delivery and some weeks I can’t keep up with it all! Looks like I can find some good ideas here. I too just started freezing dried beans. I rehydrate, cook until almost done, drain well and freeze can sized portions in quart size freezer bags, pushing all the air out. I’m still working out defrosting, but soaking in a bowl of warm water does speed it up if you don’t plan ahead (like me!). I’ve only tried this twice with black beans so far, but have lots of plans for all types of beans to follow. Anyhow, glad to find this blog and looking forward to following it!

  • June 24, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Looks Yummy! We’ve stopped eating canned anything except for beans occasionally b/c our grocer sells Eden Organics bpa-free cans! yay! When I was preparing for my newest little one to arrive, I did pre-cook a bunch of beans and then freeze them in 2 cup portions in ziplocks though. Very handy – but hate using plastic.

  • June 25, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks for the freezing bean tips, Kristin and Anjanette! My “bean” share starts this week, so I’m excited to start experimenting with freezing cooked dried beans. Have either of you ever tried freezing in glass—I feel like that’s a no-no, but I’m also curious to try it to avoid the plastic…thoughts?

  • July 24, 2010 at 12:51 am

    I know nothing about freezing in glass– but would certainly prefer it to plastic. Please post if you have any success!

  • April 26, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I had to tell you that I was just searching for bean recipes and stumbled upon the Easy Polenta and Beans one…haven’t made it yet but I will tomorrow and I am sure it will be amazing! Love to you & Matt from Guatemala!!!!

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