cooking class: black bean cocoa soup and easy polenta

for this week’s class i wanted to present a ‘hearty whole meal.’ thus far i’ve done smaller dishes or main courses, but i thought that some of the students would like to learn how to combine foods for a delicious whole meal.  i chose an interesting soup recipe i adapted from one of my favorite food mags and paired it with my quick and creamy polenta.  the polenta is really filling and warming-  total comfort food.  serve alongside some easy grilled garlic broccoli and a nutritious and wholesome meal is yours to enjoy!

Black Bean Vegetable Soup with Cocoa

(adapted from Delicious Living Magazine, Feb 2011)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves fresh garlic
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, sliced into rounds
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 cup no-salt-added tomato purée (or crushed tomatoes)
2-3 cups water or broth
2 cups black beans, home-cooked or canned (25-ounce)
2 tbsp cocoa (any type)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp each nutmeg and cayenne

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add onion.  Cook for 10 minutes then add the garlic.  Stir occasionally until both onions and garlic are softened and beginning to brown, about 4–5 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped green pepper, carrots, and zucchini to the pot, and cook for five more minutes.
  3. Add the corn, tomato purée, broth/water, and the beans, and then bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender.
  4. In a small bowl mix the cocoa with the black pepper, nutmeg and cayenne.  Stir in about 1 tbsp water and stir to make a smooth paste.  Add to the soup and stir to combine.  Cook for a few more minutes to let flavors meld.
  5. Serve with Polenta, brown rice, or in a bowl alone!

Creamy Brown Rice Polenta

2 cups water or broth
1 cup polenta (coarse-ground corn meal)
1-2 tbsp Italian herbs (basil, thyme, etc)
1 tsp salt and pepper
1 cup plain hempmilk
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup cooked brown rice
½ cup chopped goat cheese, optional

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water or broth to a boil.  Add polenta, herbs and salt/pepper.  Stir quickly to distribute, and then cover.  Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the soymilk, olive oil and brown rice, stirring to combine.  Cook for a few more minutes, until brown rice is heated through and well blended.  Add more olive oil, soymilk or water if the polenta seems dry.
  3. If you are using cheese, toss into the polenta and cover to let it melt.  Stir to distribute, and then serve.

Grilled Garlic Broccoli

1 medium sized head broccoli (about 2 cups chopped)
¼ cup chopped garlic
1 tsp agave
3 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 tsp salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic.  Cook until the garlic is well-browned are starting to caramelize- but not burning.
  2. Add the salt, pepper, and agave, and stir to coat the garlic.  Remove from the pan.  Add the chopped broccoli to the hot skillet, and cook until starting to brown on the sides.  Add 1 tsp water to add some moisture and to steam the broccoli.  Stir and continue to cook until broccoli is bright green but browned on the sides.
  3. Add the garlic back into the skillet, and stir to coat the broccoli evenly with the garlic mixture.  Serve with everything!

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