October 19, 2010

Creamy Polenta with Black Beans

I decided that I need to re-visit my cookbook collection, instead of letting it sit and languish on my shelves. I grabbed three that I hadn't used in a while and promised myself that I would pick one recipe from each to make over the next week or so.

Last night was recipe #1, from a book I haven't ever cracked open - MinuteMeals Quick and Healthy Menus. It's a nice concept. Each recipe is an entire menu, with an entree, side and dessert. And they are all healthy and fairly simple. I didn't make the whole menu because we don't need that much food, but the entree I tried was a real winner. The sharp and salty feta makes a great base in the polenta, and helps keep it pretty creamy. Polenta itself is bland, so I like to dress it up with butter and salt. However, this one didn't need anything other than some pepper and the feta. The beans and vegetables are flavorful and filling, perfectly complemented by the salty polenta. Yum!

I'm sorry the picture stinks! I had a wonderful shot all lined up when my camera battery died. So, I picked up more later that night when Alex and I went for our flu shots. This second picture is from my dinner #2, around 8PM.

5 cups water
1 cup instant polenta (cornmeal)
1/2 cup crumbled garlic and herb flavored feta (I used regular b/c it was $3 cheaper!)
1 large tomato, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, with garlic and onion
1.5 cups frozen and diced green pepper (I used fresh)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (I used 2 cans)
1/4 tsp black pepper
Optional - 1 onion, chopped

Make the polenta: Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, covered, over high heat. Slowly stir in the polenta, whisking while you pour, to avoid lumps. Bring to a bare simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until it's thickened and soft. Stir in the feta, cover and remove from heat.

Make the black beans: Coarsely chop the tomato (and onion if you're using it). Heat a large skillet over medium heat, spray with cooking spray, and cook the onion until soft. If you're not using the onion, heat the canned and chopped tomatoes together in the skillet along with the green pepper and oregano. Bring to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes.

Drain and rinse the black beans. Add them and the black pepper to the skillet, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes until beans are hot.
Serve the beans over polenta.