I couldn’t wait to make this when I first saw the photo of borlotti beans in tomato sauce over polenta in the Heirloom Beans cookbook by Steven Sando of Rancho Gordo. You are probably wondering when we will get sick of beans. We have made pot beans, and ham and bean soup over the last couple of weeks, and now cranberry beans in tomato sauce over polenta. And we haven’t even told you about all of our bean meals….
Would you think I was crazy if I told you that beans have become one of my comfort foods? Our cold, dreary Northwest winter weather has a way of making me want comfort food like soup and vegetable braises, and beans seem to make their way into these dishes quite often. It’s hard to think of a better comfort food – they’re healthy, relatively low in calories, and they go in just about anything.
We are headed to Portland this weekend to pickup Ayers Creek Farm heirloom beans, so this is probably not the last bean recipe you will see for a while. I have my eye on some other beany recipes. Let me know if you have any recipes that you love, especially those that feature heirloom beans.
I almost forgot to mention – this dish is really good. It’s perfect for a vegetarian meal with friends and also a great weekday meal with a little planning.
Cranberry beans in tomato sauce over creamy polenta, adapted from Heirloom Beans
Beans in Tomato Sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced small
1 medium fennel bulb, diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried marjoram
1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes (with juice)
2 cups cooked cranberry beans (borlotti beans would also be wonderful)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Heat oil over medium heat in small dutch oven. (I used our 1-3/4 quart LeCreuset and it worked perfectly.) Add onion, fennel, and garlic. Saute until vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes). Add marjoram, tomatoes, and tomato juice. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for a couple of hours, if possible.
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup polenta
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup parmesan
1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Add salt and polenta. Add polenta slowly so it doesn’t clump. Stir continuously as the polenta cooks. This prevents clumping and the steam venting that causes polenta to splatter everywhere. The polenta is done when it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, or when you like the texture. Overall, it will cook about 30-40 minutes. When done, turn the heat off, stir in butter, and 1/2 cup of parmesan.
2. Add beans to tomato sauce, along with chopped parsley. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, long enough for the beans to heat through.
3. Serve by spooning polenta into shallow bowls. Make a small well in the center of the polenta and spoon tomato bean sauce in the well. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.
Local information: We used Bob’s Red Mill cranberry beans and polenta, which I learned are not sourced locally. However, the tomato sauce was local with our homegrown and canned San Marzano tomatoes, and fennel, onion, and garlic from Eugene Local Foods. I will try this dish again using Ayers Creek Farm borlotto beans and polenta.
Read about other local food and food related sources here.
Other bean recipes and posts on this site: