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Black Beans and Polenta

A quick and easy entree made with black beans, garlic, chili, and smoky paprika and topped with crispy polenta rounds. Vegan with vegetarian and omnivore options.  
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time13 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican, North American
Keyword: beans and polenta, black beans, easy entree, quick mexican dinner, vegan entree, vegetarian entree
Servings: 3
Author: Sylvia Eastman


  • 2 cups black beans, cooked {See Recipe Notes}
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • salt {to taste}
  • 1/3 polenta round
  • 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 2-3 slices bacon {optional, per meat-eater}
  • cheese, grated {optional, for serving}
  • sour cream or plain yogurt {optional, for serving}
  • avocado, sliced {optional, for serving}
  • salsa {optional, for serving}
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro {optional, for garnish}


  • If you’re making the carnivore version, use scissors to slice the bacon into 2 inch strips. Heat a heavy pan and fry the bacon until your desired level of crispiness and set aside.
  • 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.
  • Sort out your toppings (slice avocado, grate cheese, find salsa and sour cream, etc.)
  • 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.
  • To assemble, heap a pile of beans on your plate, top with polenta rounds, and then your choice of garnishes. Enjoy!
    If you've made the bacon, separate out enough beans for the carnivores in your group and stir it into the beans along with a little bit of the bacon fat. 


Recipe Notes

  • Save the liquid from cooking the black beans, or the liquid from the can. It's called aquafaba and it can be used to replace eggs in baked goods. Please see our post, Aquafaba: An Easy Vegan Egg Replacer. You can freeze it if you don't plan on using it right away. 
  • If you don't have polenta, you could serve this topped with some corn chips.
  • If you don't have tomato paste you can substitute with some ketchup. 
  • If you are all carnivores, cook the bacon first, then scoop out a bit of bacon fat to fry the polenta in a separate pan. Add the beans and spices to the pan with the cooked bacon.