What I did with leftover pintos.
I love the texture of food almost as much as the taste. This dish, with smooth polenta on the bottom, a melange of pintos in the middle, and cilantro cream on top, provided a series of firmaments for my fork to slide through, a bonanza of textures and tastes. (I am practicing to be a food writer. Wait till I talk about wine!)
The beans themselves, tender, but not too mushy around the edges. The polenta, crisp on the outside, yet surprisingly smooth when faced with a fork. And the cream, drifting down over the top like snow on a rocky hillside. A perfect combination, in my mind.*
I’m finding more of my dishes feature these triple texture whammies. Adding a sauce to the top makes an okay dish even better. When I first made this, I just served the pintos over polenta, with chopped tomato on top for my husband.** But it was lacking something.
So for the next day’s leftovers, I dreamed up the cilantro cream—which took seconds to make, and that seemed to do the trick. Another trick: Since the pintos were already made, the only time-consuming part of this recipe was the polenta. It took 20 minutes to stir, and then normally would need another half hour or more to set.
But I happened to have a bag of ice sitting on the counter. I set the pan on the ice and by the time I’d chopped some onions and heated up the pintos, the polenta was firm enough to slice and fry. (You could also use the pre-made polenta, if you're the cheatin' type.)
From the package of dried beans, I ended up getting three meals for the two of us, plus my husband had them for lunch one day. A triple pintos week, and a very thrifty one too.
*As long as those nasty raw tomatoes are kept out of the mix.
** Truly, some people will eat anything.
Pintos with Polenta
1 tablespoon canola oil (rapeseed oil)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced, plus some of the sauce
2 cups cooked pinto beans
chopped tomato, optional
Cilantro Cream (Coriander Cream)
Heat canola (rapeseed) oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Saute until onion is almost soft, then add green pepper and chipotle peppers. Add beans and simmer over low heat while you prepare the remaining ingredients, or about 10 minutes.
Serve over polenta wedges with chopped tomato. Top with Cilantro Cream.
Note: If you don’t have chipotle peppers, use green chiles, or red cayenne pepper.
½ cup soy cream cheese
juice of ½ lime
1 tablespoon soy milk
¼ cup cilantro/coriander, chopped
Stir cream cheese, lime juice, and soy milk together with a mini-whisk. It should be smooth enough to drip from a spoon; if not add a bit more soy milk. Stir in cilantro/coriander. Serve over beans.
Bring 3 cups salted water to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Add 3/4 cup polenta (yellow grits) slowly, whisking it into the water. Reduce heat and stir with a wire whisk, for about 20 minutes. (You can take short breaks, but don't let the polenta stick!) When the polenta is very thick and pulling away from the sides of the saucepan, it is ready to pour.
Pour mixture into a round 9-inch cake pan. Let set for 45 minutes to an hour, then slice in wedges and pan fry in olive oil or margarine. (Makes about 8 pie-sized wedges.)