Monday, June 14, 2010

The Food Desert Project - Polenta e Fagioli

Beans, canned or dried, are one of the unsung heroes of the food desert.  While dried offer more bang for the buck and fewer additives, canned beans are still an excellent resource - and a University of Tennesee study shows that the simple act of rinsing canned beans can reduce the sodium content by more than a third.  In this recipe, we combine nutrition-packed beans with fiber-packed cornmeal for a delicious, crispy side dish. Nutritional Information.*

4 cups of chicken broth
2 tsp dried parsley
½ cup of rehydrated onions (1/4 cup of dried onions soaked in an equal amount of white wine overnight)
1 cup of yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 slices of bacon, chopped
1 tsp canned garlic
½ tsp dried basil
½ cup canned crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Make polenta: in a small amount of oil, fry ¼ cup of the onions until translucent and they brown slightly. Add chicken broth, 1 tsp salt and parsley flakes and bring to a boil. ½ cup at a time, add the cornmeal in a thin stream, whisking thoroughly as you add to prevent lumps. Cook on low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened.

Fry chopped bacon until crisp and well-rendered. Add remaining onion, garlic, and beans and fry in bacon fat until fragrant. Add basil and tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the bean mixture to the polenta and stir until lightly incorporated. You can serve this soft polenta for one meal, and continue the recipe with the leftovers as follows:

P4070085Pour the mixture into a wide, shallow dish or cookie sheet and cool in the refrigerator, at least 2 hours until firm. Cut into cubes.

Fry cubes in a small amount of oil in a very hot skillet, turning until golden brown and delicious.  Six generous servings.

* Note: Nutritional information is offered for beans as packaged - not drained, rinsed beans as directed in the recipe.

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