Baked Polenta with White Beans + Spicy Greens

polenta plated 2

You might notice it’s been a little quiet around Little Fig this month.  It’s not because I’ve forgotten you all, oh no!  Quite the contrary, in fact.  There’s been lots of recipe testing, culinary forays and inspiration.  There’s more on that later, I promise.  Until then, I leave you by sharing a few of my favorite things from April, including this (no stirring!!) fresh and oh-so-tasty polenta dish.

The vintage shoes at Sea of Shoes here (the ones covered in clouds are my favorites)

These pretty little plates I picked up from Montréal

The gorgeous Strawberry Fields pie from this shop in Dallas

The paper sculptures of Peter Gentenaar

… and this view from the Monterey Bay Aquarium


…see you in May!



Easy baked polenta with greens from Little Fig

Baked Polenta with White Beans + Spicy Greens

Adapted from New York Times – Recipes for Health

Hands-On Time:  15 minutes

Total Time:  1 ½ to 2 hours

Serves 4 – 6

Gluten-free, all natural, vegetarian


For the Polenta:

4 cups / 500 ml water

1 cup / 160g coarse ground cornmeal (polenta-style)

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil

1 cup / 4 oz fontina cheese, shredded

For the Beans + Greens:

4 cups arugula, or other zesty leafy green

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups cooked white beans (or about one 15 oz can, drained and rinsed)

1/4 cup / 30 ml dry white wine (optional), or liquid from cooking beans, or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, sliced

Salt + pepper to taste


For Polenta

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 F / 175 C

In an 8×8-inch baking sheet, or a 2 qt baking dish, stir together water, coarse cornmeal, and salt.  The cornmeal will sink to the bottom of the pan and the water will turn a bit cloudy.  Place in the oven to bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and stir in butter or olive oil.  Return to the oven to bake for 15 minutes.

Polenta will be firm with a dry/cracked top when fully baked.  Remove from the oven and follow instructions per the below based on the style of polenta you want…


For soft polenta: Stir in cheese immediately after removing from oven, then allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

For slightly firmer polenta:  Stir in cheese immediately after removing from oven, then allow to cool for about 30 minutes before serving.

For stiff polenta (the kind you can slice, like the photo!):  Remove polenta from oven, allow to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then place into fridge for at least 1 hour (or up to 24 hours if making in advance).  Remove from refrigerator and slice into wedges.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over slices and broil in your oven until cheese is melted and slightly brown & polenta is heated through.


For ‘Beans + Greens’

Heat a large frying pan on medium for 1 minute and add olive oil.  Heat oil for 30 seconds, then add garlic and allow to cook until fragrant and lightly colored (about 1 minute).

Turn heat up to medium-high and add greens (be sure they are very dry to avoid spattering oil).  Saute greens for about 1 minute, until they have wilted.  Add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and wine or other liquid and allow to cook for another 30 seconds.  Add beans and remove from heat, stirring to combine.

Spoon over polenta and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional).

Think this looks delicious?  Try these recipes, too:

shan tofu in salad

Chickpea tofu

White bean spread

White bean spread

vietnamese ramen soup caramelized bok choi and mushroom

Vietnamese-style Ramen

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Baking, Dinner, Gluten-free, Italian, Spring, Vegetarian

Author:Mae of Little Fig

Food blogger, photographer. I


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6 Comments on “Baked Polenta with White Beans + Spicy Greens”

  1. May 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Oh my, this looks delicious! Pinning. My family likes firm polenta best, but I’ve never tried cooking it in the oven. I usually just make it on the stovetop then pour it into a baking dish to firm up. Thanks for the idea.

    • May 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

      I love any recipe that saves me a pan & a step… and the results are comparable! I mean, I wouldn’t serve it to Tom Colicchio if I was in a Poletna Contest, but definitely fabulous for everyday. Happy cooking!

  2. May 4, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Baking the polenta is such a great idea, I love to save on dishes and to have something cook in the oven without hands on time. The white bean and greens topping sounds delicious, too. I really need to give this a try.

    • May 4, 2013 at 10:34 am #

      Yes, there’s been so many times before discovering this method that I would have made polenta if it weren’t for imagining myself stirring for 30 minutes straight. Glad I could share it!

  3. May 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    This looks so fresh and beautiful. I am trying to introduce more vegetarian meals into my partner’s and my diet and he love polenta so this should do the trick! Can’t wait t try this 🙂

    • May 4, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

      Thanks, Brooke! I hope you enjoy it. I started this blog partly because I was doing something similar with my husband. Happy cooking! 🙂

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