Monday, April 25, 2011

Meatless Monday: Baked Polenta and Tri-Color Beans

Baked Polenta Topped With Beans and Veggies
When they say you learn something new every day, does that limit us to one thing per day? If that's the case, I think I learned up all of today and tomorrow's lessons tonight. You see, tonight I realized polenta really is as easy to make as it sounds, and I learned how to cut open a pineapple

The husband sent me a text late this afternoon asking what was for dinner this Meatless Monday. (He's catching on nicely, don't you think?) I told him i wanted to make polenta that it might take awhile. He said that was fine, and I know we both started reminiscing about those delicious polenta dishes Momma made when she was visiting. I was more than excited to get home and get to work.

The polenta was easy to whip up. The hungry, hungry husband wanted me to make four servings of polenta, so I heated a whole cup with a bit of liquid, let it boil and thicken, and then spread it into a baking dish. While the polenta was cooling and firming up, I dug through the fridge for ingredients to put on top of our polenta. (Yes, I probably should have used a recipe, but I like to keep things interesting.)

And I must admit, we got lucky. We had a pepper, an onion, a can of leftover organic tri-color beans and diced tomatoes in the fridge. We had everything we needed for our polenta! The only issue I had with this meal was that the polenta does take a bit of time to firm up, and the husband and I are both Aries. There's not always a lot of patience floating in the air in this household. 

I think next time I'll plan ahead a little more, but we're definitely on the right track. And I think the only issue the husband may have found with this dinner was that it was extremely low in calories and protein, so there's a chance he'll be looking for a snack soon. But we're learning and we're definitely on the right track for next time - and there definitely will be a next time! Tonight's dinner was that good.

Baked Polenta Topped With Beans and Veggies
Inspired by Leftover Items in my Fridge

1 cup quick-cooking polenta
1 3/4 cups vegetable stock (low sodium, preferred)
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
3/4 cup black beans (we actually used a blend of black, pinto and kidney beans)
1/4 cup diced tomato (no-salt-added, preferred)
1/4 cup tomato juice (from the diced tomato can)

Stir the polenta, stock water and pepper flakes together in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Stir in the olive oil and salt; continue to stir the mixture until it thickens.

Spread the polenta into a lightly sprayed baking dish with a spatula. (While your husband isn't looking, lick the spatula.)

It looks like mashed potatoes, doesn't it?
Let the polenta cool for a bit on the counter; move it to the fridge to continue cooling and firming, if necessary. (I had wanted to let the polenta firm completely and cut nice wedges so we'd have perfectly square baked polenta pieces. But we were too impatient, so I let ours firm as much as we could stand it and then threw it in the oven.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the polenta into the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.

Lightly spray a skillet with cooking spray and cook the peppers and onions on medium heat until soft. Stir in the beans, tomatoes and tomato juice and cook on low until warm. 

Beans and veggies ... mmmm!
Check the polenta. It may take 20-25 minutes until it's done or until very lightly brown on top.

Cut the polenta into wedges and top with beans and veggies.

Serves 4 (although it actually fed two very hungry married people in our house)
Approximate nutritional information, as calculated by me and 190 calories, 2.5 g fat, 35 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 6 g protein

If you think I sound impressed with myself, well, you're right. I can't lie. I am quite impressed with myself. It looked easy when my momma made us polenta, but I worried I'd mess it up and never get the husband to eat it again. And here I made a really great dinner without much effort at all! As for pineapples, I've never bought a fresh pineapple before. Never. Why? Because how in the world do you get to the inside? But Momma bought Little Big Brother an extremely green pineapple when she was here and it only ripened now. I had to get into that fruit or let it go to waste - and we all know I wasn't about to throw it in the compost. One quick Google search later, and we have a huge bowl of fresh pineapple chunks ... which are now calling my name.



  1. Yay (for the polenta and pineapple). Ya know, I have never actually made polenta myself either. I'm like you, I think I always thought it was harder than it actually is. Yours turned out really well!!

  2. Bravo to you for the wonderful polenta dish! I've made it but served it grits-style, never firmed up. I love what you did with the leftovers in the fridge to put on top of it too. Great dish.

    Nothing beats fresh pineapple, does it. :)

  3. Mom Chef, I know how that goes. It takes so long to let it firm up! I had no issues licking the whisk, so I'm sure grits-style polenta would be just fine with me!


Thanks for taking the time out of your day to show my space a little love.


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