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.
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.
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.
Polenta with Swiss Chard and White Beans
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.