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Black Bean Pot with Sauteed Vegetables over Crispy Polenta

April 11, 2016

APRIL 10th, 2016 — I had soaked twice as many black beans I had needed for my Cuban dinner I had a while back. Fortunately, I learned that they freeze really well, so I put about the 3-4 cups of black beans I had extra into a freezer bag and stored them in my freezer. Yesterday I finally got around to using these beans and wanted to make a dish, but something more robust and well-rounded, as opposed to a bean dip or some beans & rice (which I still yet have to pull off).

Black Bean Pot (3)So what did you do?
This giant pouch took about 5 hours to defrost, which I had removed from the freezer in the AM. I then went to the farmers’ market and got:

  • 3 small-medium red bell peppers
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 bunch of heirloom yellow carrots

…and then I walked into Trader Joe’s and got a package of their prepared polenta.

To start, I chopped up all the veggies. I chopped the peppers and onion into strips, the carrots into diagonal slices (more surface area mean faster cooking), and the zucchini into little quarter pieces.

In a large pot with canola oil, I added in the carrots first, of course with some salt, since they take the longest to cook and soften. In the mean time, I minced 4-5 cloves garlic, and I also chopped the polenta into roughly 1-inch cubes.

Into the large pot with the carrots, I added the onions and minced garlic, with some more salt, and at this stage, I also added probably about 1 + 1/2 tsp ground cumin.

Because the peppers and zucchini are quickest to cook, I then set off to cook the polenta.
So in a separate pan, I covered the bottom with oil, and tossed the polenta cubes in. I let them cook on medium heat until a crust formed at the bottom of the pan.

I returned to the veggie pot and added in my peppers and onions, as well as about 2-3 cups of my black beans, which were already just about cooked. At this point, I added about another some more cumin, salt, ground black pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper for some heat.

Black Bean Pot (1)To serve, I started with a base layer of crispy polenta, added the beans & veggie mixture, and topped it off with some medium salsa and extra ground black pepper. I garnished with some greens from my carrot tops, but cilantro would also be a great addition.

Makes for such a complete and satisfying one-pot meal for probably 4 people. Well-balanced in textures and flavors. I’m especially glad I used something hearty like polenta, though I’m sure using a rice or grain pilaf would be fine too.
I realize also that this meal is vegan, which is something that’s usually difficult for me when making a complete meal, so extra (black bean) brownie points for that!

Lessons learned?
Surprisingly, the polenta was softer than expected, so they sort of oozed and coalesced in together to form one giant cake in the pan, which ultimately was fine by me.

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