Southwestern bean and polenta bake

Southwestern bean and polenta bake

Every week when I do my meal planning, I make note of what’s in the pantry and refrigerator in order to use up what’s on hand. I like to combine beans and whole grains, so starting with that I started to wonder what a bean and polenta combo would be like. When I make my polenta from freshly-milled dried corn, it’s pretty bland, so crushed tomatoes and chili powder were needed to help make the taste more complex and interesting.

I was really happy with how the dish turned out. The cheese could be increased for a cheesier bake. The polenta stayed fairly soft, but letting the dish rest for an hour or two before baking might help it firm up.

Southwestern bean and polenta bake

Southwestern bean and polenta bake


  • 2 1/2 ounces whole grain stone ground corn
  • 8-16 ounces water for preparing polenta
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2/3 cup dried red kidney beans, cooked (or 1 can of prepared kidney beans)
  • 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, drained for about 30 minutes using a sieve making a thick sauce
  • 2/3 cup cooked fresh corn or frozen corn (thaw while preparing dish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 ounces shredded cheese, such as Monterey
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat oven to 350°.

Bring water to a boil in medium saucepan and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir or whisk in the ground corn until smooth. Reduce heat to low and stir often until thickened.

In a medium bowl, stir together the beans, fresh or frozen corn, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and chili powder.

Spread a few tablespoons of tomato sauce in the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish. Spoon half of the cooked polenta on top of the tomato sauce, smoothing it out. Then layer in the bean and corn mixture, the cheese, the rest of the polenta, and the rest of the tomato sauce. Drizzle the olive oil on top.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbling.