Black Bean & Polenta Casserole

by FarmgirlGourmet

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ยฐ. 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.

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olivia ann silensky October 29, 2016 - 5:38 am

i dont have glass baking dish. why must it be glass?

FarmgirlGourmet November 13, 2016 - 7:59 pm

The recipe was tested using glass. Cooking times will vary if you use metal, but it’s totally possible to do that, just watch it for signs of burning.

Lori Hellemn October 11, 2016 - 5:36 pm

I worked in the Walnut Square for four years and ate at the juice bar almost everyday, this was one of my favorites! I just ran across your post, haven’t had this tasty dish in 21 years, I am so excited to make, thank you for posting!!!

FarmgirlGourmet October 12, 2016 - 10:03 am

It was my fave too and thanks for commenting on it because now I need to make it right away…and maybe take a new pic. haha Hope you enjoy it Lori. Which shop did you work at in Walnut Square? I worked at Earthly Goods for a year or so. Such a fun place and cool people.

Margery Cohen June 30, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Thanks, for posting this recipe, Heather. I developed it when I worked at the Juice Bar back in the 80’s.

Kyle May 2, 2013 - 5:48 pm

Amazing. I too ate daily at JBC during college. My friends absolutely loved your interpretation of this recipe for black bean pollenta casserole, it was a total hit. Thank you.

FarmgirlGourmet May 3, 2013 - 9:26 am

I miss that place. I need to do a roadtrip to CA just to eat there again. So glad you enjoyed the recipe. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for letting me know! Happy Friday! ~Heather

Farmgirl Gourmet August 23, 2012 - 1:41 pm

Haha Kim…that’s awesome. Well I hope mine does justice…it’s hard to beat JBC’s version. Their salsa is wicked delicious! I miss that little hole in the wall!! Thanks for stopping in! ๐Ÿ™‚


Kim August 22, 2012 - 6:31 pm

I.cannot.believe.this. I just googled “polenta black bean casserole recipe” because I was just in Berkeley for vacation (I live in DC) and I wanted to make something resembling this recipe. Your recipe was the first to pop up. I did not mention Berkeley in the search. How is this possible? Everything there was amazing. Thank you for this!

Lynn April 7, 2011 - 5:27 am

I’m more of a grits girl myself, although as much as I love both black beans and grits, I had not considered putting then together! I’ve been trying to get back into doing Meatless Mondays again. This looks like a good, quick entree!

saltyseattle April 5, 2011 - 11:25 pm

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Mandy April 5, 2011 - 1:38 pm

These are all lovely flavors. I think polenta is a fantastic base for this casserole. Great post!

Farmgirl Gourmet April 5, 2011 - 12:48 pm

LOL Barbara! If you didn’t live so far away I’d invite you over to have some. Still plenty left over! ๐Ÿ™‚ You could bring corned beef with you! haha

Barbara | VinoLuciStyle April 5, 2011 - 12:46 pm

Leave a comment? I can’t…there are no words. OK, Want. How’s that?

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