I love reading about Liz's pantry challenges over at the awesomely named blog Food Snobbery is my Hobbery when she does them. I know the feeling she gets when she's able to accomplish amazing meals without grocery shopping. There are few things that I'm more proud of than making a seriously delicious dinner out of stuff I find in my cupboard or freezer.
Tonight I experimented with a little container of Quaker corn meal which has been in my cupboard for awhile. I don't know if corn meal is exactly the same as polenta, but they're similar enough. I just boiled up some water, whisked in the corn meal, added butter and salt and it came out rich and creamy.
I also found a jar of roasted tomatoes and shallots in my freezer. I froze several pints of roasted cherry tomatoes in the fall and they came in handy tonight along with another frozen find: home cooked cannellini beans.
I was inspired by this post, but really all I did was defrost my tomatoes and beans (you can just open cans!), add a hefty pinch of crushed red pepper, ladle it on top of the polenta, and top it all with coarsely grated parmesan cheese.
Healthy, filling, comforting. It's also vegetarian AND gluten-free! Vegan, too, if you nix the cheese and butter. Exactly what you need the week before Christmas as you prepare your body for sweets, snacks, and cocktails!
Spicy Beans and Tomatoes on Polenta
2 cups water
1/2 cup corn meal or polenta
1 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
tomato sauce (either home made or store bought - or even just some canned tomatoes added to sauteed onions)
1 can of beans, any kind, drained (or 1 pint home cooked)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
grated cheese - any kind (I used parmesan)
fresh herbs - optional (I didn't have any but parsley, basil, or chives would be great)
You should follow the directions on the back of your corn meal or polenta package. But all I did was boil 2 cups of water in a small pot, whisk in 1/2 cup corn meal, add butter and salt and stir.
Heat your tomato sauce in another small pot (or add a can of diced or crushed tomatoes to some sauteed onions in a skillet). Add drained beans. Season to taste, as spicy as you can handle (maybe just start with a pinch and add from there).
Serve on top of polenta, add grated cheese, and any fresh chopped herbs you have in the house.