Southwest black beans polenta casserole is a wholesome, gluten-free, vegetarian casserole. This meatless meal is made with southwest black beans, polenta, roasted peppers, and more. Super easy to make ahead, healthy, and it feeds a crowd!
Some days just call for for meatless casseroles. And on this particular day, we’re making it a Black Bean Casserole to make for New Year’s Day brunch or dinner! Why? Because beans symbolize good fortune in the New Year. Ok and in actuality, this is dish is one my favorite Mexican Inspired vegetarian casseroles that’s easy to make and filling! So I updated the photos (from 3 years ago) and added a bit more flavor BLING to the recipe! You’ll be rollin in the coin soon by saving money with this affordable dinner! Haha! You feel me?
Anyways… let’s chat about how this casserole came about!
How to Make an EASY Vegetarian Mexican Casserole
You see, when I first started this blog, um, way too long ago (almost 9 years), I posted a lot of vegetarian (meatless) “Mexican” one pot meals. Even when it wasn’t meatless Monday! Gasp!
These filling casseroles got to be a regular, and my husband didn’t even notice the lack of meat in meals, I kid you not.
Each meatless meal consisted of lots of veggies, either a gluten free grain (sprouted or when tolerated), lentils or beans, and eggs to hold together. To add variety, I mixed up the spices and toppings. Which brings me to this southwest vegetarian casserole with polenta.
- Black beans seasoned with mexican spiced
- Garlic and Onion
- natural cheese, eggs, and a little butter (or oil) – Don’t worry, you can totally skip the cheese and or use dairy free cheese!
- Tomatoes with Green Chiles
- Optional avocado!
You gotta love those handy dandy real food ingredients. They fill up your bellies without costing you a fortune. In fact, organic canned black beans were a BIG staple in our house along with polenta. Hey, we were newlyweds, broke, and l was trying to fuel my husband for his Triathlon career. Cheap HEALTHY, go to gluten-free meals were a must!
So think of this as a LAYERED baked black beans, polenta, and veggies dish with southwest flare! Affordable and yet feeds a crowd! Oh and freezer friendly, thank GOD!
Side note to humor you—> My Kiwi (New Zealander) husband had never really tried southwest seasoned black beans before, let alone polenta. He grew up with beans on toast with baked navy beans, not black beans. And beans with ketchup. Yes, I said ketchup. Although I’d probably eat that any day, too. Haha, I’m a ketchup hoarder. Anyway, I digress.
The other reason I made a ton of vegetarian casseroles (and polenta dishes) was because James often had training buddies come to stay with us and those guys could go to town on food after a long ride, etc. Like WHOA! Having those two staples around, plus some protein was a HUGE lifesaver!
Now, let’s move forward with polenta, for those who may not be familiar (like my husband, haha).
What is polenta?
Polenta (aka stone ground corn) can be used in sweet or savory dishes. We use Bob Redmill’s Organic NON-GMO Polenta. It cooks fast on the stove, instant pot, slow cooker, or rice cooker (my preferred method), and it’s a great “binder” or base in casseroles, scrambles, soups, etc. Very economical.
Same with black beans. If you can tolerate them well, they are a great addition to any dish. They pump of the fiber and protein. Plus soaking black beans for 12 hrs or more before cooking can greatly reduce the phytic acid. Which means better nutrient absorption. Either way, beans can be enjoyed in a gluten-free diet if well tolerated. Thankfully, these days, we are enjoying black beans and lentils again in moderation.
And this vegetarian Southwest Black Beans Polenta Casserole is the perfect way to enjoy gluten-free grains and legumes. I may be bias.
Okay, so now you might be thinking, Um… so…
What are Southwestern black beans (Mexican Style)? And how do you make them?
Oh ya, did I not mention that? Haha. Southwest black beans are just black beans seasoned with southwest spices.Have I said southwest enough yet? You get my point.
Cumin, garlic, chili pepper or powder, onion, and a pinch of cayenne. Yep, those spices, tossed and cooked with beans.
Combine that with your black beans, cooked polenta mixed with egg and cheese, green chiles, tomato, and more spices! Then shove it all in the oven with some cheesy goodness on top (your choice).
Now you’ve got yourself one EPIC southwest black beans polenta casserole. A gluten-free and vegetarian dream!
Southwest black beans polenta casserole is a gluten-free, vegetarian casserole made with black beans, polenta, peppers, cheese, and more. An easy, healthy, freezer friendly dinner recipe!
- 3 1/2 cups cooked non-gmo polenta (see notes for cooking instructions if needed) – water to cook polenta
- 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
- 6 oz shredded natural cheese (Monterey jack, etc) – Divided. See notes for dairy free.
- 1 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 tsp sea salt – divided
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 2–3 tbsp coconut flour or other gluten-free flour of choice
- 2 –3 eggs (Use 3if you prefer more egg like casserole. 2 eggs if you want the polenta to be denser) *See notes for EGG FREE VERSION)
- 10 ounces chili ready diced tomatoes with green chili added. Or you can add 4 ounces canned green chiles to regular diced tomatoes (canned 10 ounces). See notes.
- 13– 15 oz (around 3 cups) organic cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (canned works if not soaking or making from scratch)
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Fresh Cilantro to garnish – chopped
- Optional topping when platting – red pepper flakes, avocado slices, sour cream, jalapeño (if desired)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a 9×13 casserole dish and set aside.
- In another large pot, cook you polenta according to package instructions. See notes.
- When polenta is almost done cooking, add in butter or oil, and 4 ounces of shredded cheese. Stir until creamy.
- Next mix in your, garlic, onion, salt, chili powder, 2 eggs, and coconut flour. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour polenta/cheese/egg mix at the bottom of the casserole dish and pack it evenly into the sides. It should make a nice bottom layer for the casserole. If your polenta is too runny or moist, I suggest baking it first at 350F for 15-20 minutes, then removing and add the rest of your layers to bake again.
- After the polenta has been set first int the casserole dish, layer your tomatoes/chiles peppers (drained if using canned) on top of your polenta. Spread it out evenly.
- Next, drain and rinse your black beans.
- Place in a bowl. Add your cumin, garlic, the other 1/4 tsp salt, pepper, cayenne, and onion. Toss all together.
- Layer the black beans on top of the tomatoes/green chiles peppers mix
- Finally, add your remaining shredded cheese evenly on top of beans. Feel free to add more than 2 oz if desired.
- Place casserole dish in oven middle row for 30 to 35 minutes until edges start to brown.
- Remove and Cover with foil then bake an additional 5 -10 minutes or until center of casserole in baked through and edges are golden.
- Broil last minute if you want crispy edges and cheese. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before slicing.
- Add any additional seasoning if desired. Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garnish with cilantro (1/2 cup or more).
- Optional topping when platting – avocado slices, sour cream, jalapeño (if desired).
Notes On polenta – I prefer to cook polenta with less water/broth to make it thicker. This was great for the base of the casserole
- For cooking polenta, bring 3 1/2 c to 4 cups broth to a boil. Slowly add in 1 1/4 cup polenta, whisking while adding it to pot so it doesn’t clump. Reduce and cover for 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Add salt/pepper to taste. Stir in butter/olive oil if desired.
- notes on texture – When using this in the casserole, you want it more thick, not creamy. Almost like steel cut oats texture.
- Notes for polenta – I prefer to cook polenta with less water/broth to make it thicker. This was great for the base of the casserole.
Tips for different ways to cook polenta You can also buy the precooked polenta at stores and slice into circles, then layer in casserole.
DAIRY FREE and/or EGG FREE OPTION – Omit cheese and use nutritional yeast to mix with polenta. Or you can use dairy free meltable cheese like DAIYA. Polenta should thicken by itself without the eggs. You can omit the eggs if needed, but if you’re polenta seems to be too runny, then I would mix in an egg replacer or flaxseed to help thicken it. I added the eggs to the cooked polenta because it helps to form a thicker base for the casserole.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 270
- Sugar: 2g
- Sodium: 763.8mg
- Fat: 8.5g
- Saturated Fat: 4.3g
- Carbohydrates: 34.1g
- Fiber: 6.8g
- Protein: 14.5g
- Cholesterol: 68.5mg
Keywords: polenta casserole, southwest black beans, gluten free dinner, vegetarian casserole
Serving Suggestions for Southwest Black Beans Polenta Casserole
Friends, this southwest black beans dinner is a “Cotter” staple recipe. Really.
We use it when making potluck dishes, serving family, guests, etc. You can make it ahead of time, freeze it, use it as dinner, brinner, brunch, whatever.
See, VERSATILE! And it feeds a crowd! Meatless MADNESS! haha.
Oh and speaking of versatile, Serious Eats has some more tasty ways to cook polenta! Check it out.
Sometimes these oldie but goodie recipes remind me just how far we’ve come. We spent years living off beans, rice, and eggs. I can’t complain though, it made me expand my way of creating meals. Just as gluten-free eating did. A challenge that brought a lot of good and brought me to this “food blog” career! I’m forever thankful for that.
And there we have it, ending on a corny Cotter moment as well. Le sigh…..
What’s your favorite casserole recipe? Whatcha making for Meatless Monday?
Ever tried southwest black beans before? Toot Toot!
Here’s proof, ohhh and here’s that oldie southwest recipe. Check out my awesome lighting and styling (that’s sarcasm).