Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
Healthy chili beans with creamy polenta! A vegan take on chili and cornbread. Delicious and perfect for Fall and Winter!
Doesn’t this look like the coziest dinner bowl? Creamy polenta topped with quick skillet beans and crispy, garlicky kale. It’s no wonder this has become a favorite weeknight dinner of ours lately.
It’s no secret that we eat a lot of chili this time of year. And while I enjoy a pot of cooking-on-the-stove-for-hours chili, there’s also something nice about opening a few cans of heirloom beans, mixing in a few seasonings and aromatics and getting fragrant chili beans in less than 30 minutes.
These are my skillet chili beans; made with gorgeous S&W Jacob’s Cattle Beans and served with polenta, aka cheater’s cornbread, and plenty of hearty greens for balance.
Jacob’s Cattle Beans are kidney beans with white and reddish-brown specks that resemble the spotted Hereford cattle, hence the name. They are rich and kinda nutty in flavor, which makes them the perfect addition for salads, chowders and soups.
They are also really meaty in texture and hold their shape, which is why I like to feature them in this quick skillet chili bean recipe. While I usually opt for rinsing beans in most recipes, I find the liquid that these beans are canned in to be especially flavorful, so I recommend adding them directly to the pot without draining first.
We eat beans at least daily in my house as they are a great source of plant-based protein, fiber and the amino acid lysine, which can be limited on a plant-based diet.
While I don’t mind cooking dry beans from scratch, the convenience of canned beans can’t be beat, especially for this busy/tired mama of two who would prefer the easy button meal solution most nights.
I also appreciate that S&W Beans are made exactly the way I do in my own kitchen when cooking from scratch: beans, water and salt. A single half cup contains 11g of fiber and 8g of protein.
I first fell in love with Jacob’s Cattle beans when I belonged to a Slow Food co-op back in California and would hoard the speckled beans to make gorgeous chilis, bean salads and bean soup.
Since they can be difficult to find, I’m so happy that S&W Beans has created a new Heirloom Series featuring canned Jacob’s Cattle Beans along with several other heirloom varieties including Yellow Eye, European Soldier, and Pinquito. You can find these beans in your local Whole Foods or on Amazon, and head to swbeans.com for more recipe ideas.
As chili and cornbread is a no-brainer combo, I love the idea of combining hearty chili beans with polenta, so you get the corn & bean combo in every bite.
Good polenta is mind-blowing, while average polenta tastes gritty and uncooked. Here’s the secret: you’ll think it’s done before it is. While the polenta will appear thick after the first few minutes, it’s still lumpy and gritty at that point.
Keep whisking and stirring to allow the corn granules to soak up the cooking liquid and soften. I whisk it really hard for the first few minutes to incorporate it into the boiling water and then cover over low heat. Remove the lid every 5-10 minutes or so, whisk again, then repeat until the polenta is super creamy— about 30-35 minutes.
At this point, you can stir in the cheese, if using, or omit it completely. To keep this dish entirely dairy-free, choose a vegan shredded cheddar or parmesan-like cheese. If I’m feeling extra decadent, I’ll often stir in a tablespoon of non-dairy butter at the end, right before serving.
Hope you enjoy this chili beans with creamy polenta dish as much as we do! If you try it, make sure to come back to rate it and leave a comment. I love seeing you make my recipes and your feedback helps other readers.Print
Healthy vegan chili beans with creamy polenta! A vegan take on chili and cornbread. Delicious and perfect for Fall and Winter!
*If you cannot find S&W Jacob’s Cattle Beans, sub S&W Pinto Beans or S&W Kidney Beans. If not using Jacob’s Cattle, drain and rinse before adding to the pot.
**To finely shred the kale, remove the stem and stack the kale leaves on top on one another. Tightly roll, then thinly slice from one end to create thin ribbons.
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I’ve made this recipe 3 times since I found it and every time I can’t believe how good it is. I noticed that you recently changed the name from “baked navy beans with creamy polenta” to “chili beans with creamy polenta”, but thankfully, its the same recipe… all that changed was the name. So delicious. Thanks for sharing your cooking genius!