When I was in my 20’s I lived in Oakland, CA and worked in Berkeley. I truly believe that my love of food started in that university town. I went from living in a tiny little town in Northern California with 1 Mexican restaurant to a large sprawling city with choice upon choice of every ethnicity or style of cuisine. One of my favorite spots to grab lunch was The Juice Bar Collective. It’s a tiny little hole in the wall on Vine Street near Shattuck and is still there. They make their version of this casserole with fresh everything. You can absolutely taste it in every bite. The crunch of fresh cilantro and the sweetness of tomatoes that are perfect. How I wish I could hop a plane right now and just go there for lunch. Most of their menu is vegan but you can get items with free range turkey and others with cheese. This is my adaptation of their wonderful dish. It does contain cheese, so if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, then omit and just add some fresh salsa instead. I hope you give it a shot and let me know what you think.
I’m counting down the minutes until lunch time. Tick tock tick tock.
Black Bean & Polenta Casserole
- 6 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups polenta
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 medium red pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups black beans
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Bring the water to a boil and slowly add the polenta while whisking constantly. Continue to whisk until the polenta is thick and begins to bubble in the center. Remove from the heat and pour into a 13x9 glass baking dish that's been sprayed with cooking spray. Refrigerate until solid.
- In a large saute pan coated with cooking spray, add the onions and peppers and saute until they begin to get soft. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder and salt and stir to combine. Add the black beans and stir to incorporate.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Spoon the black bean mixture on top of the polenta and top with the cheese. Heat in the oven for 10-15 minutes until just warm. Serve with fresh salsa, avocado and sour cream if desired.
Recipe courtesy of www.farmgirlgourmet.com. Reprinting without permission is unethical.
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