Looking for a 3-way quickie? [Black Beans + Polenta for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores]

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Sometimes you just want a quickie.

You want it fast and spicy with enough textural action to keep things interesting on the tongue. Bonus points if all parties come to the table looking hot and tasty.

Yes, we’re talking dinner here.

Now perhaps said quickie involves people who don’t like it exactly the same way you do — say one of you is a vegan, one’s a vegetarian, and the other’s a carnivore.

A three-way quickie, you ask?

Oh yeah — you can get this filling and flavourful black bean and polenta entree on the table in under 30 minutes, and yes that’s IF you’re making it ALL 3 ways.


Black Beans + Polenta | Vegan Version


Black Beans and Polenta | Vegetarian Version


Black Beans + Polenta | Carnivore Version

If you’re just making it just yourself or for a homogenous group, it’s going to be even faster.

Big picture, this is made in four really quick jaunts, three if you’re not a bacon-eater.

Jaunt one has you toasting spices in a frying pan, stirring in some tomato paste and then adding in the black beans. Done. Leave that on the back burner to cook for 5 minutes or so, while you start the second quick jaunt.

Now, you’re grating cheese, slicing avocado, and rummaging through the fridge for your salsa and sour cream. That’s jaunt two. Over already.

The third jaunt, grilling your polenta — is fast, just 2 minutes a side.

Meanwhile, if you’re a carnivore, this whole time you’ve been crisping up a few rashers of bacon on the side. Along with some of its luscious smoky fat, you’ll stir that into your beans just before serving.

All in all, we’re talking 20 minutes tops before you’ll be heaping your plates with spicy black beans, crispy polenta rounds, buttery avocado and/or cheese and garnishes of your favourite salsa and {vegan} sour cream.

Welcome to not not nutritious!

We like making three-ways easier. Actually let’s rephrase that. We just like making cooking easier.

This makes 3-4 entree-size servings.


  • 1 540 ml can (19 fl oz) of unsalted black beans, drained (save the liquid, aka aquafaba for another recipe. It makes a great egg replacer for baked goods and egg-free mayo.)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3-4 tablespoons of water
  • salt to taste
  • polenta round, cut into 1/8th to 1/4 inch slices, about 3 slices per person
  • approx. 1/2 tablespoon of oil for grilling the polenta
  • optional, bacon (2-3 slices per carnivore)
  • Optional toppings:
    • {vegan} cheese of choice (cheddar, Monterey jack would be good choices)
    • {vegan} sour cream or plain yogurt
    • avocado
    • salsa
    • cilantro


  1. If you’re making the carnivore version:
    • Using scissors, slice the bacon into 2 inch strips.
    • Heat a heavy pan and fry the bacon until your desired level of crispiness.
  2. Meanwhile, get the black beans going:
    • In a large cast-iron pan, heat the oil, then add in the spices and let cook for a few minutes, stirring.
    • Add in the tomato paste and 2 tablespoons of water and stir until well-combined. Stir in the beans. Let cook over medium heat while you are grilling the polenta and prepping your toppings. Add an extra tablespoon or two of water if it starts to dry out. It won’t be saucy, the beans are just lightly coated.
    • Add salt to taste.
  3. Sort out your toppings (slice avocado, grate cheese, find salsa and sour cream, etc.)
  4. Grill the polenta:
    • Brush a heavy grill pan with oil and heat over medium heat until sizzling. {Note, if you are a carnivore-only crew, use some of your bacon fat for this.}
    • Grill each side for 2 minutes until slightly browned and crunchy.


Heap a pile of beans on your plate, top with polenta rounds, and then your choice of garnishes. Enjoy!

# eating together made easy

One of not not’s mission’s is to make eating together easy. What does that mean? It means providing recipes that allow you to easily serve a mixed crowd, from plant-based eaters to reducetarians and omnivores. So come back often to check out our three-ways, entrees like Lemony Pasta with Peas and Arugula; Toasted Quinoa with Smoky Tomato Sauce and Toppings and Simple Black Bean Chili. Maybe you’re looking for a two-way, like our tasty-Thai inspired Butternut Squash Green Curry  that can be made either vegan or carnivore, or some tummy-warming Moon Milk Farina, that easily swings vegan or vegetarian.

Of course, all these recipes can just be made one way, whatever way YOU like it!

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