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Black Bean Polenta Bowls (Gluten Free & Vegan)

Black Bean Polenta Bowls – Creamy polenta gets topped with black beans, pico de gallo, and allll the fixin’s for a delicious vegan dinner the whole family will love! (Gluten Free & Vegan)

Black Bean Polenta Bowls from One Lovely Life (Gluten Free & Vegan)

During a busy season, it’s nice to have a simple, easy meal I can pull together in a flash. I feel like it’s bonus points when that meal is A) inexpensive, B) delicious, and C) a meatless option! These black bean polenta bowls check all three boxes.

Creamy polenta gets topped with black beans, pico de gallo, and all the fixin’s to make this an easy, family-friendy dinner!

Build-your-own dinners are usually a hit at my house, so I like to put everything out as a sort of black bean polenta bowl bar. Everyone can choose what they’d like and leave the rest.

Here’s what I usually put out for our black bean polenta bowls…

Black Bean Polenta Bowls from One Lovely Life (Gluten Free & Vegan) Black Bean Polenta Bowls from One Lovely Life (Gluten Free & Vegan)

HERE’S WHAT I PUT IN MY BLACK BEAN POLENTA BOWLS:

POLENTA (OR GRITS). Polenta (or grits–your choice!) is the base of these bowls. I love the creamy texture, and the flavor goes beautifully with the tex-mix vibe of these bowls. It’s a nice change of pace from rice! (If you’re gluten-free, be sure to buy certified gluten free polenta to avoid any cross contamination. I like this brand or this brand.)

SEASONED BLACK BEANS. I dress up simple canned black beans with a few warm spices to wake them up and give them a bit of kick.

PICO DE GALLO. I love how fresh and bright the flavors of pico de gallo are in these black bean polenta bowls. Homemade is always nice if you can swing it (it takes just a few minutes and five ingredients!), but store-bought is totally fine. Whatever works better for you! (Or, swap out for your favorite salsa.)

AVOCADO OR GUACAMOLE. My one true love! Adding a bit of creamy avocado on top of these black bean polenta bowls is such a nice contrast to the black beans and bright, puncyy flavors of the pico de gallo. Or, you can always go with guacamole!

LETTUCE. I love the pop of color and freshness from a bit of lettuce on top. You can use whatever variety looks good (or swap it out for some sautéed greens if you like!). I like something with a bit of crunch, like romaine or green leaf.

YOUR FAVORITE EXTRAS. From there, you just kind of get to add whatever you’d normally add to tacos, burrito bowls, or taco salad. Try options like cilantro, lime wedges, cheese/dairy-free cheese, sliced jalapeños, olives, corn, grilled veggies, etc.

Black Bean Polenta Bowls from One Lovely Life (Gluten Free & Vegan) Black Bean Polenta Bowls from One Lovely Life (Gluten Free & Vegan)

FAQ + TIPS FOR THE BEST BLACK BEANS POLENTA BOWLS

NEW TO COOKING POLENTA OR GRITS? READ THIS. If you’re a polenta or grits newbie, don’t worry! It’s easy to cook. You simply add water or broth, polenta/grits, and a hefty pinch of salt. Then, you bring it to a simmer and cook it until the grains have plumped a bit and the liquid is absorbed. I like to cook mine to a nice creamy stage (where it scoops easily). If it thickens too much, just add a splash more water or broth, or stir in a bit more milk or a pat of butter/ghee.

Also: if you’re not whisking regularly, polenta can splatter while cooking. Avoid burns and splatters by using a deep saucepan, stirring regularly, and reducing the heat if it starts bubbling too quickly. 

NOT VEGAN? YOU CAN TRY... if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, you can also feel free to add something on top, like slow cooker beef carnitas, sweet pork, grilled chicken, a poached egg, etc. The sky’s the limit!

A TIP FOR REHEATING POLENTA. If you’re making this ahead of time, know that polenta continues to absorb liquid as it cools and sits (much like oats or rice). Cold leftover polenta will look like a big clump at first, but heat it with a splash of milk or water and it’ll loosen right back up.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GRITS AND POLENTA? A short answer is that grits are a southern staple made from ground white corn, whereas polenta is an Italian staple made from ground yellow corn. Sometimes, grits have a finer texture than polenta, but they cook essentially the same. You can use either polenta or grits in these black bean bowls. (You can learn more about it here.)

LOVE THIS EASY VEGAN DINNER? YOU MIGHT ALSO LOVE:

HELPFUL FOR THIS RECIPE:

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Black Bean Polenta Bowls from One Lovely Life (Gluten Free & Vegan)

Black Bean Polenta Bowls (Gluten Free & Vegan)


  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Servings 1x

Description

Black Bean Polenta Bowls – Creamy polenta gets topped with black beans, pico de gallo, and allll the fixin’s for a delicious vegan dinner the whole family will love! (Gluten Free & Vegan)


Ingredients

Scale

FOR THE POLENTA:

  • 1 1/2 cups dry polenta (certified gluten-free, if needed)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup milk (I use unsweetened almond or cashew) or additional broth
  • (Optional: 1-2 Tbsp. butter, vegan butter, or olive oil for richer polenta)

FOR THE BLACK BEANS:

  • 2 (14oz) cans black beans
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 12 Tbsp. minced cilantro

TO SERVE:

  • 12 cups pico de gallo (store-bought or homemade)
  • 2 avocados
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • You favorite taco toppings – lettuce, olives, cilantro, cheese, etc.

Instructions

FOR THE POLENTA:

  1. Add dry polenta, broth, and salt to a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and carefully cook while whisking for 8-10 minutes, or until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the polenta is still soft and easy to scoop, but no longer has bite. (Note: polenta can splatter when cooking, so work carefully, and don’t hesitate to reduce the heat as needed. You can also cover it with a lid and stir more occasionally, if that’s easier)
  3. Remove from heat and stir in milk (and butter/oil, if using).

FOR THE BLACK BEANS:

  1. While the polenta is cooking, prep your black beans.
  2. Combine black beans (drain, if desired), cumin, chili powder, and cilantro in a bowl or saucepan.
  3. Microwave to heat in the bowl, or gently warm over medium-low heat on the stovetop.
  4. Taste and add more seasoning, as desired.

TO BUILD BOWLS:

  1. Layer about 3/4 cup of polenta per person, about 1/2 cup black beans, 1/4-1/3 cup pico de gallo, 1/3 avocado, and plenty of lettuce in each bowl. Add you favorite toppings and enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish, Vegetarian
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Tex-Mex, American, Vegetarian

Keywords: polenta bowls, black bean polenta bowls, southwest polenta

Black Bean Polenta Bowls from One Lovely Life (Gluten Free & Vegan) Black Bean Polenta Bowls from One Lovely Life (Gluten Free & Vegan)

One Comment

  1. Amazing recipe, the milk makes it tastier. Easy to prepare and super healthy. Gonna make it this dinner, thanks for sharing!

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