Bryanna’s Italian Polenta, Bean, and Kale Slices

Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 30 minutes

Serves:6

This a sort of "Italian Scrapple" ("scrapple" is an old-fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch dish made from cornmeal and pork scraps). Both are cooled until solid, then sliced and browned. Scrapple is served with applesauce or syrup, but this dish is served with freshly-ground black pepper and gravy, or marinara sauce, or even ketchup, with the option of a sprinkling of soy parmesan. This dish is not only nutritious, but delicious. It's a good way to use leftover plain cooked beans. Note: Make this the day before you are going to serve it.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound kale, cleaned, stripped off the stalks, and chopped
  • 3 cups vegetarian broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups pinto, borlotti, or cranberry beans (cooked or canned), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Cook the kale and garlic together with the broth in a covered pan over medium-low heat until just tender. Drain and save 1 and 1/2 cups of the remaining broth. Set aside both, along with the drained beans.

To cook the polenta, you have two options:
The Double-Boiler Method: Mix the cornmeal with the cold water in the top of the double boiler. Add the 1 and 1/2 cups warm reserved broth and stir well. Set the bottom of the double boiler to boil with water in it. Place the top of the double boiler over high heat and bring the cornmeal and broth to a boil quickly, stirring almost constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon, to prevent sticking and clumping.

Immediately when it boils, place it over the bottom part of the double boiler, over the simmering water. Let it simmer 20 minutes, partially covered, and stirring now and then, until the polenta is creamy and smooth.

Taste the polenta when you think it's done and make sure that it doesn't have that rather unpleasant bitter taste of undercooked cornmeal. If it does, let it cook a little longer.

The Microwave Method:
Whisk the cornmeal and cold water together in a large microwavable bowl or casserole. Stir in the warm reserved broth. Cover and cook on full power for 1 minute. Whisk the polenta. Cover again and cook 1 minute more. Whisk again. Cover and cook again for 2 minutes more. If it doesn't seem cooked enough (remember that this is a soft polenta), cook 2 more minutes. Let it stand 1 minute. (Taste the polenta and make sure that it doesn't have that rather unpleasant bitter taste of undercooked cornmeal. If it does, let it cook a little longer.)

Whichever way you cook the polenta, proceed as follows:
Pour the cooked, drained beans, kale, and salt into the polenta. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir very well, to distribute the polenta throughout the beans and kale.

Scrape the mixture immediately into a 9 x 5" loaf pan lined on the bottom with cooking parchment and smooth the top evenly. Cover and chill (even for several days).

When the loaf is firm, loosen the sides with a table knife and turn over on a plate. Remove the cooking parchment. Slice 3/4" slices from the loaf. Place the slices on a cooking-parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Broil them 3 to 4" from the heat source until the tops are speckled with browned spots. Turn the slices over and and broil the other side.

Serve hot with freshly-ground pepper, and gravy; or ketchup; or hot marinara sauce and soy Parmesan (optional).