Baked Navy Bean Polenta with Chunky Veggie Tomato Sauce

IMG_3584Is it really for real April? Where has all the time gone and where the hell is the warm weather? It's not funny anymore. I am officially OVER winter!  Ok, so now that I got that off my chest…..

Last night the misters Dad came over for a long awaited dinner accompanied by talk of life goals and what her referred to as "narratives" or the story of our lives. Some deep shit to be talking about at dinner, especially with zero alcohol to be had.

Me, being so super awesome, was all up in taking charge in making the food. Except that  last night I didn't have a bunch of time and honestly, much energy to be doing anything.  And sure, I could have just made a pot of spaghetti, but that just felt like cheeping out. So Polenta it was. And because I just made a hug pot of navy bean, those were going into the polenta too.

Beany polenta baked in the oven with a tomato sauce cooked on the stove. About 5 minutes of hands on time and an hour to cook it all. It's the perfect meal to make when you have guests coming over. Fast prep, into the oven and on the stove, and then you have an hour to clean and make yourself presentable. See, I am a thinker. (I ended up skipping the making myself presentable part… I stayed in my gym clothes.. no need to impress family right?) Then after about and hour you end up with a hearty healthy pretty meal, all from scratch, that seems like you spent the afternoon cooking. When in fact you spent the past hour vacuuming and watching Gilmore Girls. 

IMG_3538The Stuff. Cornmeal, water, navy beans and parmesan for the polenta. Crushed tomatoes, garlic, dried basil, onion, carrot, zucchini, and summer squash for the sauce. Salt, pepper, and olive oil all around.

IMG_3558Cornmeal and water go into a cast iron skillet (or any oven safe dish) with a pinch of salt and pepper. Give it a little mix and stick it into the oven at 400 degrees .

IMG_3544Once the polenta is in the oven, make the sauce. Chop up all the veggies and stick into a dutch oven or sauce pot with a pinch of salt, the basil and a good drizzle of olive oil. Stick on medium heat and let veggies cook down a bit.  When the veggies are tender, add in minced garlic, crushed tomatoes and another drizzle or oil.  Turn burner to lowest setting and simmer (giving it a stir every now and then) for about 45 minutes or until the polenta is done. IMG_3568After about 30 minutes when the water had pretty much all cooked down, take the polenta out of the oven and stir in the beans, the parmesan, a tablespoon or two of olive oil and salt and pepper. Smooth top out and sprinkle with more pepper, parmesan and drizzle with a bit more oil. Stick back into oven for another 1/2 or until polenta  has formed a crust and no longer giggles when you wiggle the pan.

IMG_3630Pull polntna from the oven and let sit for at least 1o minutes. IMG_3605

Two big spoons and a pile of plates. Have the people serve themselves!

Have a Happy Day! 


Baked Navy Bean Polenta with Chunky Tomato Sauce

Serves 4 hungry people

For the Polenta

  • 1 1/2 Cups Course Ground Corn Meal
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 3 Cups Prepared Navy Beans (Or just use to cans)
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese or Vegan Parmesan (Optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Sauce

  • One 28oz Can of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 1 Small Onion
  • 4 (or more ) Cloves Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Basil
  • 1 Small Zucchini
  • 1 Small Summer Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400

In a large skillet, mix together the cornmeal and the water and add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Place into oven for about 30 minutes or until the polenta starts to congeal at the edge of the skillet nd most of the waster has cooked down.

Remove skillet from oven and with a whisk or wooden spoon, mix in the beans, the parmesan (if using) and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Smooth out mixture, sprinkle with salt, pepper, parmesan and drizzle with olive oil. Stick back into oven for another 30 minutes or so.  Polenta is done when it no longer wiggles when you giggle the skillet.

For the sauce

Small dice the carrot and the onion and stick into a medium dutch oven oor sauce pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Place on medium heat and cook until the veggies are tender. Add in tomato, minced up garlic and basil. stir and let simmer on stove top for about 45 minutes. When you place the polenta back into the oven for the second bake, dice up zucchini and squash and add to sauce. Stir and keep on simmer until ready to serve.

Once the polenta has completely cooked, remove from oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes…10 is better to solidify.

Spoon big piles of polenta on a plate or in a bowl, top with a big heap of tomato sauce. Sprinkle with a little more parm  and maybe another dash of pepper .

Eat…..Spoon or fork is recommeded.

Happy Food!