Thursday, April 4, 2013

Jalapeño Business: Jalapeño Polenta Squares, Corn-BlackBean Salad, Plantain Chips

I've got a running post in the works, but today felt like a recipe post day.....probably because I have a recipe I'm dying to share with you all!

Inspiration: We had guacamole leftover from a party, and I also had corn on the cob that I needed to cook soon. It's been hot lately, so I thought of doing a corn & black bean salad over jalapeno polenta squares. The only ingredients I needed to buy were the jalapeños & cilantro; while I was in the store I saw a plantain that was too ripe to pass up, so that got thrown in the mix. As luck would have it, I got home to discover that the guacamole that had inspired my dinner plans was residing in my brother's stomach. 
Nutrition Note: This meal is pretty well-rounded, especially when it comes to the protein. The black beans from the salad and the corn (both fresh and in the polenta) make a complete protein. In addition,  this classic pairing of whole corn, whole grain polenta, and beans provides a great amount of fiber. The meal has less greens than I would like in a dinner, so I served it with a side of steamed kale (not pictured). Surprise, surprise, my Dad and brother ingnored the kale and dominated the plantain chips.....looks like I got the short end of the chip. (ha..haha, get it? because I got less chips? I know, I'm a comedic genius)

Recipe:  Jalapeño Polenta Squares, Corn-Black Bean Salad, and Plantain Chips

Jalapeño Polenta Squares
Ingredients:
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup whole grain polenta/cornmeal
- 1/2 cup thinly diced, seeded jalapeño
- 2 tsp minced garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Directions:
1. In a medium, heavy bottomed pot, bring water to a boil and add polenta and salt. Reduce to low heat and stir every minute or so for 10 mintes.
2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and continue to cook on low heat for 20 more minutes. Make sure to stir well at least once every couple of minutes. 
Just finished cutting the chilled Polenta
3. Line a small rectangular casserole dish or baking sheet with tin foil and pour the polenta into it. Spread it out so that it is the same thickness (height) throughout, it should be about 1/2-3/4 of an inch tall.
4. Place in Refrigerator to set for at least 30 minutes and pre-heat oven to 450 degrees for the oven-baked (oil-free method). Or if you prefer you can pan fry them with a little oil on medium heat, for 4 minutes on each side. I've tried it both ways and I prefer the oven-baked as does my Dad, but my brother prefers the pan fried.
5. After the polenta has set, remove from the refrigerator and cut the polenta into 2 inch squares. 
6. Place the squares on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in the oven on the top rack for 10 minutes (you can brush with olive oil if you like). Or if you are pan frying them, this is when you would fry them in the pan.
7. Change the oven setting to broil and watch the polenta until the tops turn golden brown (about 2-3 minutes). 
8. Remove and let cool.

Corn & Black Bean Salad:
Ingredients:
- 2 cups cooked black beans
- 2 cups cooked corn kernels (I simply steamed the corn cobs for 13 minutes and then removed the kernels post-steaming)
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- a little under 1/2 tsp salt
Directions:
1. Mix all the ingredients together in a serving bowl.
2. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.


Plantain Chips:
I already posted the recipe for these in a previous entry, here is the link to the recipe. They take about 10-15 minutes total, so just keep that in mind when planning dinner time :)


Plating/Serving: As far as plating goes, you can pretty much have it any way you like. I enjoyed having the salad on top of the polenta squares, as well as being able to scoop some salad up with my chips. My brother prefers having everything separately, and my dad.......well he just prefers food.
How I roll 
How my brother rolls

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