Thick wedges of polenta topped with an easy-to-prepare chile, corn and black bean salsa—this dish has all the flavors of black bean tamales, but it requires a lot less effort, making it the perfect centerpiece for a hearty weekend brunch. Prepare the polenta the night in advance and the rest comes together quickly. If you can’t find queso fresco, you can substitute feta cheese instead.
Grilled Polenta with Black Bean Salsa
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/3 cups (9 1/2 oz./295 g) coarsely ground polenta
- 1 can (15 oz./485 g) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup (3 oz./90 g) fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
- 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) minced yellow onion
- 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
- 1 hot jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) crumbled queso fresco
1. To make the polenta, in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 5 1/3 cups (43 fl. oz./1.3 l) water and 1 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil. Gradually whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook, whisking frequently, until the polenta is thick and creamy, about 45 minutes. Add up to 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) water, a few tablespoons at a time, if the polenta begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. (Be careful, as the hot polenta may splatter.)
2. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish. Spread the polenta in the dish. Cover the polenta with parchment or waxed paper and refrigerate until firm and cold, at least 1 1/2 hours or up to overnight.
3. To make the black bean salsa, stir the beans, tomato, corn, onion, cilantro, lime juice, chile and garlic in a bowl. Season with salt. Cover and let stand to blend the flavors, at least 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the broiler. Have ready a rimmed baking sheet. Cut the polenta crosswise into 6 rectangles, and brush the tops with half of the olive oil. Using a wide spatula, transfer the polenta pieces to the baking sheet, oiled sides down. Brush with the remaining olive oil. Place in the broiler about 6 inches (15 cm) from the heat source. Broil, turning once, until both sides are golden, about 5 minutes per side.
5. Cut each rectangle into 3 triangles. Arrange 3 triangles on each plate, and top with the bean salsa, dividing it evenly. Sprinkle with the cheese and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma Breakfast Comforts, by Rick Rodgers