Monday, August 22, 2011

Meatless Monday! Tomato and Herb Beans over Polenta!

It's Monday again, which means I'm going meatless for dinner.  This simple meal is exploding with flavor and is full of veggies and protein...perfect for a vegetarian meal!  I have wanted to cook polenta for some time now and when it was on sale at the grocery store I couldn't resist.  The sauce in this dish is a sweet tomato and Italian herb complete with kidney beans, tofu and parmesan cheese.  It is topped with a little extra mozzarella cheese for extra pizza and protein.  To keep this recipe simple, purchase pre-made polenta, which comes in a tube in the refrigerated section of the grocery store... you can even buy different flavors!

What is polenta?
Polenta is a creamy dish made of cornmeal, making it a good source of carbohydrates.  It can be baked, grilled, or pan fried and is often topped with sauces.  Polenta is an extremely versatile food that can be incorporated into many types of dishes. It is often cooked with different cheeses, including parmesan, gorgonzola, or other varieties.  For those out there are gluten-free, don't worry this fits into your diet too!

Easy polenta recipe
Makes 18-24 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 quart vegetable stock or water
  • 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in an oven-safe sauce pan, add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes, add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Gradually add the cornmeal and whisk continuously.  Cover and place in the oven, cook for 35-40 minutes (stirring every 10 minutes).  When it is creamy, add the remaining ingredients.  Cut into triangles or squares and allow to cool.

Tomato and Herbs Beans Over Polenta
Serves 6

2 tsp olive oil, divided
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 fresh tomato, diced
1 cup of kidney beans
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 batch of prepared polenta
2 oz tofu, crumbled
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
3/4 cup of part-skim mozzarella cheese

In a medium sized sauce pan add 1 tsp and onion and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the tomatoes, beans, herbs, and tofu and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add sliced polenta and cook until golden brown on both sides.

Finishing touches:  Place 2-3 slices of polenta on an oven safe pan, top with bean sauce, and sprinkle 1 oz of mozzarella and 1 tsp of parmesan cheese on top.  *Place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted and starts to golden.

*You could also make this more as a casserole and bake it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes.

Serve with a side salad and a fresh vegetable for a refreshing and filling meal.  I would recommend green beans or wilted spinach with this entree!

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