This is a family favorite and cold weather standard. I cooked up the whole box of instant polenta when I made the Parmesan Polenta with broccoli and spinach the other night and I spread the leftovers in an 8 x 8 pan, let it cool and put it in the fridge. You can use any kind of polenta for this dish, I sometimes line the bottom of the pan with slices from the kind that comes in a roll, put the chili in the middle and top with another layer of slices (see Day 29). Tonight I made the bean mix for the top. I think that this kind of bean mix - mostly a vegetarian chili - can make lots of dinners that are great in the cold weather months including:
Chili over rice or cous cous or tortilla chips
Baked potatoes topped with chili
Burritos or Tacos
The bean mix includes:
peppers (green, red or yellow)
zuchinni (if I have some on hand)
corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
some kind of hot pepper (jalapeño, Serrano, etc)
Beans (kidney, pinto, or black)
cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt & pepper
I like black beans with polenta. Here's what I did for tonight's dinner.
I made a batch of fig and walnut biscotti this afternoon, and while the two loaves were doing their first round of cooking, I made the chili.
I chopped a small onion and put it in my chili pot with about 1 tsp olive oil and 1 minced clove of garlic to begin cooking while I diced the lone zuchinni from the vegetable drawer. When that was diced, I put it in with the onion to cook and I chopped some frozen strips of pepper (green & yellow) from the freezer and put about a cup of frozen corn (corn and peppers frozen by me at the end of the summer) into the microwave to defrost. I added the peppers and corn to the pot and let everything cook while I opened a can of diced tomatoes with jalapeño peppers and 2 cans of black beans. I drained and rinsed the beans, then added the tomatoes and beans to the pot, threw in the spices and some salt and pepper and let it cook about 30 minutes while I cut the biscotti into slices and worked on my new song while the slices did their double-bake - stopping to flip them halfway through.
When the biscotti came out of the oven, I turned the heat up to 375 F and grated some cheddar cheese (about 1 cup I think). I spread half the cheese over the polenta, ladled on a thick layer of chili, then topped that with the other half of the cheese. I put it into the oven and went back to my guitar for another30 minutes. When I took it out of the oven , the cheese was melted and it was bubbly hot.
I made a salad of Romaine, apples, toasted walnuts (leftover from the biscotti recipe) and feta cheese.
Very easy, very warm and wintry and satisfying - and there is leftover chili which will make a nice lunch by itself or over a baked potato - or a small batch of chili-mac.