White Bean, Kale, and Polenta Bowls
We make variations of this bowl often, but this simple version is a favorite. The beans are slow-cooked several hours with plenty of onion and garlic. This is a good meal for a busy day as most of the time is hands-off.
I usually have dried beans and polenta in my pantry, ready to go. If I don’t have kale on hand, I’ll substitute any other green I do have in the fridge – spinach, arugula, baby super-green mix, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, etc. Frozen spinach, with all the water pressed out, also works very well here.
My husband usually likes this topped with a couple of fried eggs, which I make as I’m building the bowls in the same skillet that the kale was cooked in.
Start off with putting everything for the beans in the slow cooker. This cooks on low for 6 – 7 hours, until the beans are cooked through but still hold their shape.
Don’t toss the broth that is made from cooking the beans – it is delicious and light, and hits the spot when drunk from a mug when its cold outside. I know it is summer, but it is currently overcast, cool, and I’m wearing slippers, so a warm beverage sounds tempting.
When the beans are nearly done, I start the polenta. And when the polenta is nearly done, I start the kale.
Then I layer everything in a wide bowl and dig in.
White Bean, Kale, and Polenta Bowl
Beans – slow cooker
- 1 lb dried white beans (I used butter beans for this recipe, use whichever white bean is your favorite)
- 1 sweet onion, halved and outer skin removed
- 1 head garlic, cloves separated and outer skins removed (yup, the whole head!)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 qt vegetable broth or stock (or use water and season with a little salt to taste)
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 large bunch kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add the beans, halved onion, peeled garlic cloves, and a couple teaspoons of salt to the slow cooker.
- Cover the beans with at least 2 – 3 inches of water and cook on low for 6-7 hours until the beans are soft but still hold their shape.
- Bring the veggie broth to a boil.
- Add the dry polenta, stir to remove any lumps, and turn the heat down to low.
- Cook on low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring often. Add a little more salt to taste if desired.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for about a minute, moving it around the skillet so it doesn't burn.
- Add in the kale and stir to coat it in the garlic and oil.
- Cook until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the kale is cooked evenly.
- Put a big scoop of polenta at the bottom of a wide bowl or rimmed plate, and top with kale and beans.
- Feel free to add a fried or poached egg on top and serve with the onion from the beans. Enjoy!