southwestern polenta bowl

This time last year (strangely, this exact day), I discovered and posted about my newfound love for polenta. The obsession lasted a good while, as it was an easy ‘cooking-for-one’ meal while I was in school and always comforting during the colder months. Then springtime cravings for salads and fresh veggies took over my attention, and my bag of corn grits was left to its lonesome in the back of the pantry.

Until now! The moment I whisked up these grits today and heaped them with some southwestern-inspired fridge finds, it all came back to me. Deliciousness. A warm, nourishing, well-balanced, fuel-filled meal that’s anything but bland. A comfort food, but one without the post-indulgence guilt.

In this one-bowl meal, polenta [or corn grits] serve as the base as lettuce does for your springtime salad, and you get to be the creative genius to toss whatever your tummy desires on top.  Possibilities are endless, of course, but this one deserved to be documented and made again and again in exactly the same way…..

:]

southwestern-inspired polenta bowl

  • 1/2 cup yellow corn grits
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 T olive oil
  • onion
  • ground veggie sausage
  • black beans
  • roasted cubed pumpkin
  • chopped kale
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh spicy salsa / pico de gallo

Bring vegetable broth and salt to a boil in a pot. Add oil. Lower heat to simmer. Add the polenta in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Whisk for about 5 minutes, until polenta is thickened. Keeping heat low, cover and let cook for 20 more minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

While polenta is cooking, in a pan sauté some onions with crumbled/ground veggie sausage and sprinkle with a little s+p. I then added in some black beans, leftover roasted cubed pumpkin and chopped kale. Once the sausage is cooked through, you may want to pour in some vegetable broth to help wilt the kale and keep everything from sticking.

When polenta is thick and creamy, spoon into a bowl and pile on your sautéed medley. Top with fresh cilantro and spicy salsa and devour!

Enjoy! -m

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huevos rancheros over polenta

So, if you read my blog, you know that a savory breakfast of mine will include some combination of eggs, beans, corn, salsa, cheese, and veggies. To me it’s like peanut butter and bananas, chocolate and coffee, toast and jam – it just goes together, no matter how you dish it up.

I’ve never “officially” made huevos rancheros, but with all the polenta existing in my kitchen as of late, the idea came to me to fry up some ranchero-ed huevos and serve them atop of fried polenta cakes in place of the traditional corn tortillas. Ohh how creative I am.. ;]

And well… it turned out great! The polenta was crispy on the outside, soft and grainy on the inside, and melted in perfectly with the rest of the ingredients just the way I like it.

I made this for myself, so the recipe is for 1 generous portion, but it’s an easy one to adapt for more people.

Huevos rancheros over polenta, by me :]

  • leftover polenta, spread about ½” thick in a pan/baking dish and chilled (see my basic polenta recipe here)
  • dash of chili powder
  • 2 T red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup black beans (I highly recommend Trader Joe’s Cuban-style black beans!)
  • ½ cup salsa fresca or pico de gallo (I use Trader Joe’s mild fresh salsa)
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • feta, cotija, or cheddar cheese to garnish
  • chopped cilantro to garnish

Cut chilled polenta into 2 squares or rectangles, sprinkle with chili powder and fry in a lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat, until crisped and golden on both sides.

Meanwhile, lightly oil another skillet and heat over medium. Add chopped onion and garlic, sauté until softened and then add black beans and ¼ cup of the salsa. Stir and let cook until mixture thickens a bit. Fry or scramble the eggs to your liking. Top the polenta cakes with bean mixture, eggs, and garnish with the rest of the salsa, cheese, chopped cilantro, and a dash of Texas Pete!

This would also be good with some sautéed greens and/or other veggies thrown in the mix, but somehow I forgot (…what?! I never forget my veggies!)

This is one. delicious. mess.

mich

healthy comfort meals for fall

This fall weather has me craving warm, comforting dishes, as you saw when I posted this kale sauté. Trying out new dishes only has me craving more, so I wanted to share a few ideas I’ve tried for quick, warm meals. I made polenta for the first time about a week ago and have fallen in love. It’s so comforting and tastes great with everything! Just add some cooked veggies or top with stew or chili for a wonderful cozy meal…..

The basic polenta recipe I’ve been using and find to work well is this:

½ cup polenta / yellow corn grits

2 cups vegetable broth

¼ t salt

1 T olive oil

Bring vegetable broth and salt to a boil in a pot. Add oil. Lower heat to simmer. Add the polenta in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Whisk for about 5 minutes, until polenta is thickened. Keeping heat low, cover and let cook for 20 more minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

*I halved the recipe I found, so feel free to use 1 cup polenta and double the other ingredients for a larger batch.

Now you’ve got soft, creamy polenta to use as a base for anything! The vegetable broth is definitely what makes it so flavorful. I have yet to let the polenta firm up and bake or sauté it, but I can imagine it’s just as yummy.

Here (above) I had a hearty brunch of polenta, eggs scrambled with peppers, onions and kale, pico de gallo and feta cheese. I know it’s hard to see the polenta with all the yummy stuff on top!

And here I made a super simple lentil chili which I served over leftover polenta. I used this WholeFoods recipe for the chili and added some leafy kale. Continue reading