Polenta and Beans

Source: Sarah Henkin, CUESA's Market Chef.

Recipe Type: | Seasons:

This recipe was demonstrated at the Food Wise Booth on January 20, 2009.


1 pound dried cranberry beans (or use any dried bean), picked through for debris and preferably soaked for at least 4 hours
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
½-1 whole dried chili (depending on the desired heat level), chopped
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
28-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes (or 6 fresh tomatoes)
Salt, to taste

5 cups water
1 cup polenta
Salt, to taste
Crème Fraiche for garnish


  1. Prepare the beans (this can be done 1-2 days in advance).  Heat olive oil in heavy bottom pot over medium flame.  Add onion, garlic, chili, peppercorns, bay leaf and sauté until just starting to soften. 

  2. Crush tomatoes with your hands or a spoon, add to pot and cook with vegetables for a couple minutes.  Drain beans and add to pot, stir, add enough water to cover by about 2 inches and bring to a simmer.  Skim the surface every now and then, and continue to simmer on low, partially covered, until beans are completely tender. 
  3. Prepare polenta:  Bring water to boil and slowly whisk in polenta.  Turn pot down to medium-low and stir every now and then to prevent lumps.  Cook until polenta is tender.  You want the consistency to be a little liquid-y, “porridge-like”.  Salt to taste.
  4. To serve:  Put polenta into a bowl for each person you are serving, add a bit of beans along with the cooking liquid.  Top with crème fraiche and serve.


Optional: Top with greens (kale, chard, spinach, braising mix) that have been sautéed in olive oil and garlic.


Farmers Market Ingredients