Vegan Food Hacks

Polenta with Black Beans & Green Salad Dinner

Polenta with black beans

Prepared polenta offers great ways to add variety to the dinner repertoire. One of our long-time faves is pan-grilled polenta topped with a simple combination of black beans and spinach. In addition to being the main dish of a light yet satisfying dinner, this can also be a hearty warm appetizer.

There are a number of brands that offer tube polenta. You might find it in the Italian foods section of well-stocked supermarkets; near the flour products or gluten-free section of natural foods stores, and some Italian specialty markets. This kind of polenta is made only of cornmeal; some have a few herbs like basil to add a little flavor, but even unembellished it’s surprisingly tasty. If you like using it, you’ll love 8 Ways to Use Tube Polenta.

What’s nice about this dish is that it offers such a nice blend of flavors and textures that the only thing you really need to complete the meal is a salad. On this occasion, we created an almost prep-free salad of mixed greens, grated carrots, grape tomatoes, and olives.

This might look a little fancy, but this polenta with black beans dinner definitely a meal you can make even when you come home dead tired from a long day!

Serves: 3 to 4 (3 servings of 4 polenta rounds, or 4 servings of 3 polenta rounds)
Time to table: 25 minutes

What you need

Polenta and black bean dinner ingredients

For the salad (vary if you’d like, or use what you have on hand)

  • Mixed baby greens, in bulk or 5 to 6-ounce package
  • Grated carrots, 1 bag
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Sunflower or pumpkin seeds, optional

For the polenta and black bean dish

  • 18-ounce tube polenta
  • Garlic (1 head, you’ll only use a couple of cloves)
  • 15-ounce can black beans
  • 6- to 8-ounce jar roasted red pepper (you’ll use only part of it)
  • Ground cumin
  • 5- to 6-ounce package baby spinach

What you probably already have on hand

  • Olive or other vegetable oil

What to do

1  Make a simple salad first, combining the greens, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and optional seeds. Or just make a salad with whatever fresh vegetables and greens you already have on hand.

2 Link to Polenta with Black Beans and Spinach if you prefer following a more formal recipe, or stay on this page and just follow these steps. First, cut a little bit off the puckered ends off the tube of polenta after removing it from its casing, then cut into 12 slices, each about 1/2 inch thick.

3  Heat a wide lightly oiled nonstick skillet or griddle. Arrange the polenta slices on it in a single layer. Cook both sides over medium-high heat until golden and crisp, about 8 minutes per side.

4  While the polenta is cooking, heat olive oil a smaller skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the garlic and sauté over low heat for a minute or so, until golden.

5  Add the beans, 1 or 2 chopped roasted pepper, and cumin. Stir together and cook over medium heat until well heated through.

6  Add the spinach, cover, and cook just until it wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir the mixture together, season with pepper, and remove from the heat.

7  To serve, arrange 3 or 4 polenta slices on each plate as shown in the photos and spoon the bean mixture evenly over each serving. Serve the salad alongside the polenta dish.

Polenta with black beans dinner

Photos by Hannah Kaminsky

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