14 April 2015
Winter squash polenta with chipotle pinto beans
I've been thinking about the combination of squash and beans for a few weeks now. Black beans and sweet potato are a natural match in things like enchiladas and black bean-broccoli stuffed sweet potatoes, so why not try a variation with winter squash?
This is just a basic soft polenta with a big whack of delicious, vibrant winter squash puree added in. I still had some previously roasted CSA squash puree in the freezer, so this was the perfect way to finish it up. Of course, there are still two squash on our counter. Those need to get eaten soon too!
Polenta does take a bit of time to make, but it's such a delicious result that I think it's well worth it. The overall result is smooth and comforting, with a subtle sweetness (not to mention a BRIGHT ORANGENESS) from the squash and a hint of contrasting black pepper. And the combination with spicy beans? Yes. The experiment worked.
Wilted dark greens with garlic would be an excellent addition if you want more vegetables. Cilantro would be a great garnish here too.
Winter squash polenta
3 tbsp butter or olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion
3 cups veg broth, water, or a mix
1 cup polenta and 1 cup water, combined
~2 cups winter squash puree
salt and pepper to taste
Melt your butter or oil in a 3-quart or bigger pan on medium heat while you dice your onion finely. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, or until nice and fragrant and translucent.
Add your water or broth and bring the pan to the boil. I used 2 cups of vegetable stock and 1 of plain water, which worked perfectly.
If you haven't mixed up your raw polenta and water, now is the time to do so. Give it a few good stirs to break up any lumps. Then gradually add your polenta and water mix to the pot, stirring each addition in well.
When all your polenta has been added, it's time to settle in for the long haul. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for about 25 minutes. Many polenta recipes will have you stir for the entire cooking time, but I don't think this is necessary, especially if you are also cooking some tasty pinto beans at the same time. Just keep an eye on your polenta and stir it frequently.
Your polenta will be cooked when it's thick and is pulling away from the sides of the pan as you cook. Taste it to make sure. Then add your squash puree, season well with salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 tsp of each), stir it all up, and cook for another five minutes, or until hot through and tasty.
Chipotle pinto beans
butter or oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
cumin, oregano, salt to taste
~2 cups cooked pinto beans
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely minced
adobo sauce to taste
green onion to garnish
This is more or less a non-mashed version of basic refried beans. Saute onion and garlic in oil or butter until softened. Season with cumin, oregano, and salt. Add pinto beans and a bit of their broth (if homemade) and cook, stirring, for five or ten minutes, until everything is hot through and the beans are at your preferred degree of dryness. Correct seasonings and take the pan off the heat. Finally, stir in your chipotles, plus a couple spoonfuls of the adobo sauce to taste. (Chop the rest of the can of chipotles in adobo and freeze in an ice cube tray for future applications.)
Serve your beans over a big scoop of polenta and garnish with chopped green onion. Oh man, it's so good.
I spread the leftover polenta evenly into a casserole dish, pressed some parchment paper over the top, and left it to solidify a bit overnight. The next morning, I fried up a couple of squares in a little butter, then topped them with a fried egg. Plain romaine on the side.
This was an excellent plan and I highly recommend that you try it, either with neat squares of polenta or a couple of rough handfuls shaped into patties. Runny egg yolk with crispy polenta is definitely worth a few minutes of effort.
How are you eating the last of your winter storage vegetables?