Parmesan-Baked-Polenta-with-Tuscan-White-Beans-RecipeRun away with me.

Sure, we only just met, but I knew from our first encounter that we were destined for a lifetime of bliss. With you, I feel so comfortable and complete; it is as we have known each other always.

Parmesan Baked Polenta with Tuscan White Beans, where have you been all my life?


Yes, I am head-over-heels for cornmeal. Polenta is one of those words I had heard tossed around in culinary circles (i.e. re-run episodes of Giada at Home) but about which I knew little. A quick visit with my friend Wikipedia and I discovered that polenta—ground cornmeal that is boiled into smooth porridge—has been around since the Roman empire.


What Wikipedia did not mention is that polenta is creamy, buttery bliss. My first bite, accompanied by my Tuscan White Beans, swept me away to the mountains of northern Italy. I’m begging you: lock me in an Italian cottage with a bottomless supply of Parmesan Baked Polenta with Tuscan White Beans and a quart of red wine. I could not imagine a happier fate.

Though my Parmesan Baked Polenta with Tuscan White Beans leaves me feeling like a pampered Italian princess, polenta is a peasant food by origin. Through its ancient lifetime, polenta has evolved in countless ways. Spoon freshly prepared poleta from the stove as a warm, creamy side. Let it cool, then slice it into velvety hunks. Bake, pan-fry, or grill it. Mix liberally with butter, cheese, herbs, and olive oil.


My Parmesan Baked Polenta with Tuscan White Beans has a soothing, familiar taste that left me longing for a simpler time. Enjoying a meal that thousands of others before me have prepared and shared brought color to my cheeks and satisfaction to my soul. With each spoonful, I felt connected and whole.

The polenta’s mild cornmeal flavor and sharp touch of Parmesan blends beautifully with the earthy, sage-infused Tuscan White Beans. Rather than using canned beans, I chose the slow-cooking process of dried beans instead; the flavor and texture of the resulting dish is beyond compare. Tuscan White Beans are so rich and velvety, had I not made them myself, I would have wagered a pan of brownies that they were laden with heavy cream. Not so. It is the slow cooking process alone which creates their creamy, indulgent texture.


If you have never cooked with dried beans, you are about to discover a world of exquisite eating on the cheap. {Perhaps you will even be inspired to write bean poetry.} Dry beans require little effort, cook largely unattended and are even more budget-friendly than their canned cousins. The main difference is the forethought required. For best results, dry beans need to soak in cold water for 8 to 12 hours prior to cooking. No active work on your part is required beyond filling the bowl with water—just a bit of advanced planning.


Parmesan Baked Polenta with Tuscan White Beans is a warm dish that will rosey your cheeks, connect you to the past, and comfort your soul. It is no wonder that this dish has survived the centuries.

Now, let’s run away to Italy, shall we?

Parmesan Baked Polenta with White Beans

Yield: 4 - 6 servings
Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr 15 mins
Total Time:
8 hrs
Creamy, velvety polenta the easy, oven-baked way, served beside rustic, sage-infused Tuscan white beans.


Parmesan Baked Polenta and Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 cup coarse grind cornmeal Polenta
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan — plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Tuscan White Beans:

  • 1 pound white beans — (16 ounces) such as Great Northern, Cannelini, or Navy beans (I used Great Northern)
  • 4 cloves garlic, — minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. POLENTA: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 8 x 8 inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine the polenta, water, and kosher salt in a 2-quart baking dish. Stir together, and place in the oven. Bake 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir in the butter and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and stir again. Return to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and stir in the Parmesan. Pour into the prepared 8 x 8 inch baking dish and smooth the top. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin dish. Cut the polenta into squares or rectangles, and arrange the polenta in the dish, overlapping the pieces slightly. Spread the tomato sauce over the slices, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Drizzle olive oil over the top.
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until sizzling. Remove from the heat and serve with Tuscan White Beans.

  5. TUSCAN WHITE BEANS: Rinse beans with cool water, removing any broken, blistered, or brown beans. Drain.
  6. Soak the beans: In a large bowl, cover beans by 3 inches with cold water, cover and set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight, up to 12 hours (soaking for longer will cause the beans to absorb too much liquid and loose their texture and flavor). If preparing more than 12 hours in advance, drain the soaked beans, then refrigerate until ready to use. {For a quicker soak in place of the overnight soaking}: In a large pot, cover beans by 3 inches with cold water, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, remove pot from heat and set aside, covered, for 1 hour.
  7. Place the soaked beans in a large pot and cover with water to 3/4 inch above the level of the beans. Bring to a boil. Once beans are boiling, skim off any foam that has risen to the surface. Add sage, then reduce heat so that the beans bubble steadily, but not vigorously. Cover loosely.
  8. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the beans begin to soften, 30 to 45 minutes. If the beans become dry while cooking, add water one cup at a time as needed. Once the beans are soft, add kosher salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the beans are very tender, about 15 additional minutes.
  9. Drain any excess cooking liquid. Stir in garlic and olive oil. Serve with baked polenta.

Recipe Notes

  • Suggested meal planning: Don't be fooled by the large amount of prep and cook time-it is almost entirely inactive. Relax and let the slow cooking happen in the background. The night before, soak the white beans and prepare the polenta up through Step 2. The next morning, drain the beans and place in the refrigerator. A little more than an hour before you are ready to serve, begin to cook the beans. While beans are boiling, preheat oven for the polenta, slice and arrange polenta slices. About 20 minutes before the beans are ready (Step 5), top polenta slices with tomato sauce, Parmesan, and olive oil and place in the oven. Finish beans, remove polenta from the oven, and serve.
  • To prepare in advance: The cooked polenta (through Step 2) can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. After soaking but prior to cooking, the white beans can be refrigerated for up to 3 day; fully prepared, the Tuscan white beans can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Easy Italian Recipe, Parmesan Baked Polenta with White Beans

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