Polenta is Italian comfort food. This zesty version is topped with succulent beans and calcium-rich greens for a vegan delight that is sure to please. Making polenta can be both relaxing and meditative, and the recipe is a great use for any kind of leftover cooked beans.
When we absorb tasty deep nourishment like this, our whole selves feel more peaceful.
1 ½ cups coarse yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs (rosemary and parsley are especially good)
4 cups hot water
Olive oil for greasing
Beans and Greens
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
1 ½ cups chopped onions
3 cups chopped Swiss chard, kale, or spinach, or a combination
1 28-ounce can tomatoes with juice, chopped
1 ½ cups cooked beans
¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus extra for garnish
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
For the Polenta
1. In a 3-quart pot, combine the cornmeal, salt, herbs, and water, making sure there are no lumps. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, 30 minutes or until the polenta is thick and comes away easily from the sides of the pot.
2. Grease a large sheet of aluminum foil with the oil and place it on a baking sheet. With a rubber spatula or with wet hands, slide the polenta onto the baking sheet, guiding it into a rectangle measuring approximately 8 inches by 12 inches. Make the corners as square as possible. Lay a second sheet of aluminum foil of top and allow the polenta to set at least 30 minutes.
For the Beans and Greens
1. In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until it turns golden. Add the onions and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the greens and saute, stirring, until wilted.
2. Stir in the tomatoes and beans and simmer 15 minutes. Sir in the basil and season with salt and pepper.
1. Cut the polenta in to four equal rectangles and then cut each rectangle into four triangles. Place the triangles on oiled aluminum foil or an oiled grill under the broiler and cook 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until the exterior is a spotted brown. Remove from the heat.
2. Ladle on the bean mixture and top with extra basil.
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from The Bean Harvest Cookbook by Ashley Miller (Taunton Press, 1999). Copyright (c) 1999 by Ashley Miller. Reprinted by permission of Taunton Press.
Adapted from The Bean Harvest Cookbook by Ashley Miller (Taunton Press, 1999).