Not-Exactly-Friday Recipe: Easy Polenta with Spinach & White Beans

>> Saturday, September 5, 2009

I whipped up this dish for company last night. I had invited a few friends over for shabbat dinner, knowing full well that my day was packed. While they were bringing salad and dessert, I was still responsible for everything else. Which was fine, because it gave me a chance to test out a couple new recipes and see whether they were, as I thought, doable in a limited amount of time. The answer, fortunately for everyone, was yes.

Last night's menu:
*Challah (already made and frozen. I now divide the dough from my recipe into 4 which is perfect for freezing 2).
*White Bean dip (previously made and frozen, just needed a little defrosting and warming; I use this recipe and halve the butter)
*Corn/Tomato/Black Bean salsa (bonus recipe below!)
*Double Broccoli Quinoa from 101 Cookbooks (I didn't have enough parmesan cheese, but the recipe is delicious for those who, like me, love broccoli)
*Polenta (recipe below)
*Tossed Salad
*Dessert (my friends brought the Chocolate-Almond Tart from Trader Joe's; it's decadent)

Easy Polenta with Spinach & White Beans
~Serves 6-10 (depending on whether it's the main dish)

8-10 cloves garlic
1 28 oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes
6-10 oz spinach
1 can white (cannellini) beans
1 polenta log (organic, kosher, vegan, and gluten-free ones availble at Trader Joe's)
herbs (your choice! I'd recommend oregano, thyme, rosemary, chili peppers)
olive oil

1. Chop onion and mince garlic.

2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and saute the onions and garlic.

3. Add the tomatoes. Stir regularly for about 10 minutes. IF you used diced tomatoes, use a hand blender to blend the tomato mixture into a sauce.

4. Add herbs, salt, and pepper to taste.

5. Add spinach and mix in until it wilts.

6. Add the beans and stir.

7. Slice 2/3 polenta into disks. Form small balls (size of gnocchi) with the rest.

8. In a 9x 13 pan, spread about 1/2 the tomato mixture in the pan. Then arrange the polenta disks and balls on top.

9. Cover the polenta with the remaining sauce.

10. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

11. Enjoy!

*This is a recipe that can easily scaled up or down in terms of quantity and ease of cooking. To make it quickly, I used premade polenta, tomatoes from a can, and beans from a can. If I had a bounty of fresh tomatoes, I could have started with chopped tomatoes. I could have also made the polenta or soaked dry beans. Conversely, if I had even less time, I could have used prepared tomato sauce. I used fresh spinach but frozen could work too. It's all malleable.

*I prefer this dish warm, but my roommate ate it cold today and liked it. Eat as you please.

An extra recipe...

SIMPLE Corn/Tomato/Black Bean Salsa
~Makes one medium sized bowl

*8 oz corn (frozen, canned, or trimmed from fresh corn)
*4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
*1 can black beans
*Olive Oil
*Red Wine Vinegar
*Lemon Juice

1. In a medium bowl, combine corn, tomatoes, and black beans.

2. In a measuring cup, combine 1/8 c. olive oil, 1/8 c. red wine vinegar, and lemon juice to taste. Whisk well.

3. Pour oil & vinegar into corn/tomato/bean mixture. Mix well. Cover and let sit for an hour.

4. Enjoy!

*I used what I had on hand. Sometimes I'll add red onion, minced peppers, or avocado as well.


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