Sunday, September 21, 2008

Creamy Polenta with Veggies and Red Kidney Beans

Over a week with no posts, goodness! This past week has been crazy, with addition of the latest niece to expand our family. Greg and I have been busy spending time with her, her parents, and the rest of the family which came down to visit. So I must confess, we made this meal about a week and a half ago, and we have been pleasantly distracted since then =).

If you are wondering if those veggies are yet more frozen veggies, then you would be correct. I really enjoy this particular bag. On top of the obvious broccoli and cut carrots, it contains black eyed peas, garbanzo/chick peas, snap peas & cauliflower. Two years ago on a trip home to Ann Arbor, my family ate at at the Quarter Bistro. I ordered a wonderfully spicy vegetable minestrone. We joked that I just have gotten the last of the pot, because it seemed like there were at least 4 cups of minestrone in my "bowl". We took the left overs home, and my Mom made grilled polenta, and then spooned the re-heated soup on top. It was so delicious. This is my quick attempt at mimicking the dish.

To add flavor to the veggies and beans, I started by cooking the beans in water with bay leafs, oregano, basil, rosemary, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Once they were mostly cooked, I added the veggies until they were warm. We put cheddar cheese on the polenta once it was done, and that helped keep the texture creamy. I think a stronger flavored cheese would work much better. A little asiago would have really gone along way!The whole process took about 10 minutes. I'm sure if the veggies had simmered longer they flavors would have been more full. But, for a done in 10 minutes meal, this was pretty hard to beat. If anything, the next day left overs were better than the first day. The polenta's texture had changed since it was allowed to sit, but the flavor was still good.


Veggie Mixture:
1 15oz can red kidney beans
8oz frozen veggies
shredded cheddar
1 C. water
1 1/2 tsp each of: rosemary, basil, oregano, cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves

1 C. water
1 C. corn meal or polenta
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper

-Bring 1 C. water to a boil. Add drained and rinsed kidney beans. reduce to a high simmer. Cook until just about tender and warmed through. Add the veggies. Continue cooking until the veggies have heated through. Drain and set aside.

- While the beans and veggies are cooking, bring the 1 C. water to a boil. Slowly pour in the corn meal or polenta while whisking. Whisk until any large clumps have dissolved. Serve warm and creamy or pour into a 9x13 and cover with plastic wrap to set.

-Serve the polenta while warm and creamy, top with a bit of cheese. Place veggies and beans on top of cheese.

- Enjoy!!!