Parmesan Baked Polenta with Tuscan White Beans

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?

Parm-Baked-Polenta-with-Tuscan-White-Beans-Recipe

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.

Parm-Baked-Polenta-with-Tuscan-White-Beans-Recipe

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.

Parm-Baked-Polenta-with-Tuscan-White-Beans-Recipe

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.

Parm-Baked-Polenta-with-Tuscan-White-Beans-Recipe

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.

Parm-Baked-Polenta-with-Tuscan-White-Beans-Recipe

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.

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

 

 

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

24 comments

  1. Ooh. I have got to try this! I have never tried cornmeal, but I will add it to my next shopping list :)

  2. Polenta is one of the many, many foods that I’ve had and love but thought they were too hard to make at home. You made them look pretty easy, so challenge accepted!

  3. Ever since our first trip to italy we have been in love with white beans – hot, cold, plain with just olive oil and pepper or dressed up like this terrific recipe. A tip if you dont have time to soak the beans overnight – put them in a pot, bring the water to a boil, cover and let sit for an hour.

    • This is further proof that I need to expand my white bean research…to Italy! Thanks for the quick-soaking tip too. You guys sound like white bean experts. Love the different ideas.

  4. on my above comment – after the water boils – you cover and turn off the heat and let beans sit for an hour. This replaces the soaking time – but you still need to cook.

  5. I love polenta – such a versatile food! This whole meal looks so comforting and delicious!

  6. oh this is a great vegetarian dinner! I’m still learning how to cook dried beans, these are good tips.

  7. i love feeling like a princess.. i will run off with you now so we can beat this blizzard heading our way…i am sure the Italian you are talking about is pure sun & warmth :-) the white beans with sage sounds soooo good…i love sage, i could probably eat that by itself for weeks!

  8. Hello! I recently just started a youtube Korean food channel, EasyKoreanFood, where you can learn how to make fast and easy Korean food! It would mean the world to me if you took the time to check it out because I’m just starting out! Thanks!

  9. This looks like a really yummy and comforting dish. I enjoy polenta, but haven’t tried it bakes like this.

    • Baking it is sooooo easy Amy. No time spent standing at the stove. Just pop right into the oven. If you like polenta, I think you’ll love this version :-)

  10. When I was living in Italy I ate polenta almost every day! Your version looks f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s, Erin!

  11. I plan on cooking this for my girlfriend this weekend!

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  13. This was really delicious – I was almost scared off by the number of steps, but it was really worth it. My only change was not refrigerating the polenta as long (I did 1/2 hour). It was a logistical decision, but in the long run, I liked that the polenta stayed nice and creamy. We try to eat mostly vegetarian at home to keep our budget in line, and this was a nice hearty meal along with a green veggie and some melon.

    • Chloe, I’m so happy that you tried and enjoyed this recipe. It IS a lot of steps, but I thought it was really worth it too. I love your idea of a creamy polenta version, and might try it that way myself next time. Thanks for letting me know how it turned out!

  14. Pingback: Difference between: grits and polenta - ErinNudi.com

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