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Frugal Black Beans and Polenta

What you need: 

6 cups water (plus about 3/4 cup)
2 cups dry cornmeal grits (polenta) or cornmeal
sea salt and pepper, to taste
vegetable oil, as needed
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
cayenne pepper, to taste (I use 1 teaspoon)
1 1/2 teaspoons flour, optional

What you do: 

1 For polenta, bring the 6 cups water to a boil with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Slowly pour in the polenta, a little at a time, stirring as you add to prevent lumps. Bring the polenta down to a simmer and stir frequently with a wooden spoon until very thick and comes away from the sides- about 30 minutes.
2. Lightly grease a casserole dish or bowl with the vegetable oil (cooking spray works as well). Check to make sure your polenta is fine for seasoning (but keep in mind even if it tastes a little bland that the sauce will add flavor). Spoon the polenta into this prepared dish (it should be impossible to pour easily) , and smooth out so you have an even surface; let sit about 10 minutes.
3. After 10 minutes, divide the portions into four and slice each portion to make nice little pieces (cubes could be a fun change from the norm), place on dishes to prepare to serve.
4. For black bean sauce, pour beans into a saucepan. Add the tomato paste and 3/4 cup water. Add the cayenne pepper Simmer, and add flour to thicken, if needed. The sauce will be very thin otherwise.
5. When heated through, spoon on top of the sliced polenta. I usually spoon plenty of liquid on top so that it soaks through the polenta. Yummy!
For timing, I usually start the sauce about 5 minutes before the polenta will be done (25 minutes into the cooking of the polenta). You could easily use prepared polenta for this recipe; just lightly oil a frying pan and fry round slices and then top with the black bean sauce. In addition, you could always fry the sliced polenta if that's what you'd like. To thicken, if you don't want to use flour, it's possible to puree some (or all) of the black bean sauce. Ideas for additions include: adding chopped onion, omitting the tomato paste and adding salsa instead, adding chopped cilantro, adding a can of chopped or whole tomatoes (you'll want to omit the water if that's the case), and adding grated soy cheese on top. This costs approximately 75 cents a head to make and is very filling.

Preparation Time: 
35 minutes, Cooking time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 
1 hour
Servings: 
4
Recipe Category: 

SO HOW'D IT GO?

This was pretty tasty. I diced 1/4 of an onion and two small cloves of garlic, fried those up, poured in the beans (mashing them with a potato masher), added a bunch of spices...cayenne, basil, oregano, fresh cilantro, cumin, and thyme. I also added a teaspoon or two of salsa verde and some habanero hot sauce as well. Next time I'll be sure to toss some corn in there as well. Thanks for a great recipe!

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With a few additions, this was delicious! ;)b
I cheated and used pre-made polenta - basil flavored - and baked the little circles in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
As for the black bean sauce, I added onion, roasted red peppers, tons of cayenne, chili powder, a little nutritional yeast, a little cumin, and cornstarch to thicken it up.  I also melted some FYH Nacho Cheese and poured it on top of the crispy polenta.  It was so good! 

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I had a can of open white beans and some corn, so I added that to the bean mix.
I also first sauteed some onions garlic and green peppers before adding the beans.
I didn't have any tomato sauce, so I used some tomato and red wine balsamic vinaigrette sauce + barbecue sauce + garlic chili sauce. I added a bunch of seasonings that I had too...

For the Polenta, to season it, I added a veggie bouillon cube to the boiling water and added garlic powder, minced onion, and some of an Italian herb mix i had in the house. It gave it a great flavor, and I liked eating it by itself.

This was definitely an awesome recipe and my fiance (non veg) enjoyed this as well!   

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Thanks everyone for all the kind replies. I wrote this recipe back when vegan parmesan wasn't quite as easy to get, but it would indeed be an excellent addition, as would all these other suggestions. I'm glad you guys like it so much!

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Made this lastnight and cannot wait to make it again! I have never had polenta, and we could not find the dry stuff, so we bought the premade roll. We made a few alterations:

(1) 15oz can of black beans
(1) 4oz can of chopped green chiles
1/4 cup of ketchup
onion powder, salt + pepper to taste

My omnivore husband said this was his favorite vegan recipe yet, so we are both excited to work this dish into our rotation!

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I added a generous amount of Parmesan to the polenta, along with some garlic and onion powder. The whole thing had a nice comfort food taste, and was much better than it looked. :x

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I made this recipe for my girlfriend who has never had Polenta. It was a huge success!!! I added organic white sweet corn and peppers to make it a Black Bean and Salsa type dish and it turned out great. Great recipe, we will definitely be making this one again!  ;)b

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I have to agree, this is some good polenta  ;)b
I look forward to the left overs  ;)b

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I'm not on much for polenta, but this was probably the best way I'd ever eaten it.  I didn't have dry cornmeal and made it with the moistened stuff sliced into coins. Not bad.

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I wasn't crazy about this. I added corn and a potato to the beans, and while the topping was pretty good, the polenta was just too plain and dense. I liked the topping enough that I think I will make it again and pour it over a baked potato instead.  :)

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