Polenta Casserole with Spinach and White Beans

A quick corn recipe this time. Polenta has an interesting history in Jewish tradition – like other maize products, it really only became a thing after corn was brought from the New World in 1492. Polenta and similar corn porridges like mamaliga and gomi became common in certain pockets of the Jewish world: Italy, Romania, and Georgia are primary among them. Unlike rice, breads, and noodles though, there was no broad swathe of cornmeal-eaters. Georgian gomi tends to be white; Romanian mamaliga tends to be mushier, and Italian polenta tends to be firmer.

I made this casserole back over the summer when our internet was out for three days during Isaías, but had the wisdom to write this down.

casserole with vegetables and cheese on top
Casserole, as finished. Ugly but delicious. (Photo mine, August 2020)

Serves 5-8

6 cups cooked polenta (about 2 cups uncooked)

2 ½ tablespoons olive oil or butter + more for greasing

1 medium white onion, chopped

6 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped finely

1 15-oz can cannellini beans, with the fluid

Salt and black pepper to taste (I find the goat cheese adds enough salt.)

1 teaspoon white wine or apple cider vinegar

3 cups frozen spinach

2 cups goat cheese crumbles

  1. If you haven’t already, make the polenta according to package directions. I use Bob’s Red Mill Polenta.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425F. Grease a 9×13” casserole with a very light layer of olive oil or butter.
  3. Heat a large skillet, then add the oil or melt the butter. Add the onions, garlic, and rosemary and sauté for a few minutes, or until the onions begin to wilt.
  4. Add the beans and fluid, salt, and pepper. Stir, then add the vinegar. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for five to ten minutes, or until the fluid is mostly gone.
  5. Add the frozen spinach and mix in thoroughly, until it is cooked through. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  6. Spoon the polenta into the casserole. Then, spoon the skillet mixture on top. Add the goat cheese crumbles in an even layer on top of that.
  7. Bake for ten minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown. Serve hot.