SOUTHWEST POLENTA HASH
from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Café
Preparation time: 30 minutes, once the polenta is made.
(The polenta takes about 10 minutes, but needs at least an hour to
Yield: 4 to 6 servings (depending upon what else is served)
- You can make the polenta as much as a few
days ahead of time. Wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the
refrigerator. It needs at least an hour to cool and firm
- Butter is optional. It flavors the olive oil
nicely, but is not essential. So if you prefer to keep this dish
dairy-free, just skip it and slightly increase the olive
- The jalapeno adds a bit of heat. If you want
to get a milder flavor, remove the seeds before you mince it. Wash
your hands after handling this or any other hot
1 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups coarse cornmeal (polenta)
1 cup cold water
- Pour 1 3/4 cups water into a medium-sized saucepan, add the
salt, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, place the polenta in a bowl
with the cold water, and stir until it is completely
- Turn heat under the boiling water down to a simmer, and spoon
in the wet polenta. Stir with a wooden spoon, and cook over
medium-low heat for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until very thick.
- Turn the polenta out onto two dinner plates, spreading it into
a thin circle all the way to the rims of the plates. Let it cool.
It will become very firm.
- Cut the polenta into cubes or dice, and proceed with the
2 tablespoons olive oil (and possibly more)
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
(Polenta pieces from above)
1 heaping cup minced onion
1 3-inch jalapeno, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
A dozen sliced cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (optional)
1 cup cooked black beans (canned OK), drained
- Heat the oil in a large skillet (or two smaller ones) over
medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt.
- When the oil is very hot, add the polenta pieces in a single
layer. Sauté them for a good 15 minutes, loosening and turning
them about every five minutes with a metal spatula, to keep them
from sticking. They will crumble somewhat, and that is desirable!
(It makes a crisper result.) Don't move the pieces any more often
than every five minutes, because they need a chance to "sit with
the heat" in order to achieve texture.
- When the polenta is looking golden in color, move it over to
one side of the pan, add a little additional oil, if it seems
necessary, and add the onion, jalapeno, and chili powder.
Sauté these in the side of the pan, until they become soft (8
to 10 minutes). About 5 minutes into this step, add the
- Mix the vegetables and polenta pieces together in the pan,
still over the heat, adding the cherry tomatoes (if desired). Cook
for another 5 minutes or so, then stir in the black beans until
they're heated through. Be careful not to break the beans as you
stir. The dish looks nicer if they remain whole.
- Serve hot, with or without salsa.