Recipe: Polenta with Swiss Chard and White Beans

Recipe: Polenta with Swiss Chard and White Beans

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Erin Alderson
Nov 19, 2014
(Image credit: Erin Alderson)

When I started working for myself full time, I had this idyllic notion that since I would be working from home, I’d have time to cook the types of meals I wanted to eat. I dreamed that dinner would be my time to unwind and cook what I wanted to cook. It turns out, however, I do not know how to say "no" to projects, and instead of those nice, long dinners, most weeknights I’m in a rush just to whip something up in between projects.

That is where this pared-down dish comes into play. This casual assembly of store-bought polenta, white beans, and silky chard make a quick and filling meal that's easy to pull together on even the busiest of evenings.

(Image credit: Erin Alderson)

I’m normally a homemade polenta type of girl, but when I know I have a busy week, I’ll occasionally pick up a tube of pre-made polenta, especially if I’m making a meal like this where I plan on frying the polenta (a favorite of mine). The crisp outsides and soft insides of the polenta rounds taste good to me every time.

(Image credit: Erin Alderson)

One trick to frying polenta is using a nonstick pan. Because the polenta is soft, it tends to stick even with a good amount of oil in the bottom of some pans, and you lose what I think is the best part: the golden crispy outside.

I keep the greens easy by sautéing them with a bit of garlic and olive oil. I prefer my greens to still have a bit of texture and I often pull them from the heat before they become extremely soft. I like to use chard and collards for this reason as well — they hold texture nicely and compliment the crispness of the polenta. However, if you happen to have spinach around, I’d say toss that into the pan, too.

(Image credit: Erin Alderson)

Polenta with Swiss Chard and White Beans

Serves 3 to 4

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tube (16 to 20 ounces) pre-made polenta
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
5 to 6 large leaves swiss chard, stems removed and leaves sliced into ribbons

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Remove polenta from packaging and slice into 8 to 10 slices. Sprinkle each side lightly with salt and pepper then place in the skillet. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until one side is brown and crisp. Flip and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes until the second side is crisp. Add more olive oil if needed to achieve the crispness.

While the polenta is cooking, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a separate skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Stir in the beans and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, just to warm up the beans.

Add the sliced chard to the pan. Stir until the chard begins to wilt, 3 to 4 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until chard is tender, another 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve, place polenta on a platter and top with the chard mixture.

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