Black Bean Topped Polenta
pictured with vegan sausage slices
This meal is very flavorful, quick and easy to put together, and lends itself to a lot of variation.
The main item ... Polenta slices topped with Black Bean Topping can come together in less than half an hour, and that includes making the Black Bean Topping. If that is already made, this will get supper on your table in minutes!
The Black Bean topping is a Pillsbury Bake Off winner from many years back.
One of the BEST ways to use this is to make Black Bean Pizza!
Anyway, the topping recipe is as follows:
One 25 ounce can of black beans, or two 15 ounce cans, or 2 1/2 - 3 cups of cooked dried black beans
1-3 garlic cloves (I adore garlic and use 3 cloves ... for a less garlic intensive flavor, go with 2 cloves SEE THE 2nd paragraph
for a method to tone down the garlic flavor's harshness but still keep the wonderful garlic flavor)
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. hot sauce
Salt to taste (if your beans are unsalted)
Put everything into the food processor, fitted with the metal blade. Start with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Puree, adding in as much olive oil as needed to make a soft puree. It should be thick enough that it holds its shape when stirred up, but add enough olive oil to make it soft (like pudding consistency).
Once the puree is made, slice some polenta into one inch thick slices. Pan fry in a little oil, or put under the broiler until surface is crispy brown.
Top each slice with a big blob of Black Bean Puree, and top that with a little blob of salsa.
As shown in the photos, serve with a vegan "meat".
Serve with chips. Pita Chips go especially well.
Serve with a bowl of soup.
If you do not want to use oils or fats, replace the olive oil with salsa.
I like to mellow out the harshness of the garlic, by heating the garlic cloves (WHOLE) in the olive oil before mixing them into the black bean puree. Put about 1/3 cup olive oil into a glass one cup liquid measuring cup and add in your garlic cloves. Cover with a paper towel. Microwave on 30% power for 1 minute. Swirl the oil/cloves mixture. Continue heating on 30% power until the oil is very, very warm, but not hot. By now, the garlic cloves will have totally softened. Mash them through a garlic press into the black bean mixture in your food processor. Add in the warm oil and process. Any oil left over can be used any place that a garlic flavored oil would be appropriate.
Once I top the polenta slices with black bean puree, I pop them under the broiler for a short time to "crisp up" the surface of the black bean topping. This also heats up the topping enough for serving. When you are serving a large number of people, this is the quickest and easiest way to get these all heated and ready for serving. Alternatively, you can heat the topping in the microwave, and then add it onto the top of the polenta slices.
The Polenta Slices used in this recipe are ready to eat, fully cooked "tubes" of polenta. They come both plain, as well as flavored. All they need is to be heated up, but crisping them in the broiler or by pan frying on each side greatly increases the flavor.
Both the Polenta Slices and the Black Bean puree are gluten free, which makes this a wonderful gluten free meal.
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