Life is all about balance, right? Balance and beans. Ok… maybe not that last part.
While I’ll be the first person in line to pick at those brownies fresh out of the oven, I also know that I have to fill my belly with foods that make my body feel strong. Because I think food is just downright dreamy, I like to take the time to make something special for my body. Why? I figure if my body is happy, then my brain is pretty stoked and my heart feels pretty rad… and that trickles out to every part of my life.
Can I tell you a secret? I gave up working out for the new year. That’s right… I gave it up completely. I had absolutely no interest at all in even glancing at my running shoes. About two months in, I went to slip on my favorite jeans. Um… they were tight… and they hadn’t just come out of the dryer. What did I expect? Seriously…
Well, I’m back at it. I’m taking my running shoes out for a spin every once in a while, and my body is all smiles. Incidentally, my body also wants to celebrate its new found activity with French fries… but that’s a whole other battle we can talk about later.
This Borlotti Stew over Creamy Polenta feels exactly as good as getting out of the shower after a long run and sliding under the electric blanket for the night. It’s one big bowl of good-for-you comfort.
It’s a small way to celebrate real food being really good for you. I dunno… I think there’s something really special, and necessary about taking care of your body with a whole, happy meal.
Borlotti Beans in Tomato Sauce with Creamy Parmesan Polenta
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb trimmed and chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 teaspoons fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 small carrot peeled and shredded
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes or plum tomatoes
3 cups cooked and drained Borlotti beans (more about how to soak and cook those suckers here)
For Parmesan Polenta
1 cup polenta
3 cups cold water
2 cups whole milk (if you don’t want to use whole, just use whatever you have on hand)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a small, heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions, fennel, garlic, 2 teaspoons oregano and red pepper flakes, plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes.
Add shredded carrot and saute for 2-3 minutes more.
Add tomatoes and stir to break up. Add another pinch of salt.
Reduce heat to super low (a very very low simmer) and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to separate from oil, about 2 hours. I cooked my tomatoes for about an hour and a half before I couldn’t wait any longer and dove in.
Add the rest of the oregano, plus more salt and pepper to taste. Add Borlotti beans and stir to combine.
Now make the Polenta
Place 1 cup of dried polenta in a medium sized bowl. Top with one cup cold water. Set aside.
In a medium sized sauce pan bring 2 cups of whole milk and remaining 2 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add salt. Slowly whisk the polenta and water mixture into the boiling milk mixture. Turn flame down to medium low. The time the polenta takes to cook will depend on weather you’re using fine grain or course polenta. My fine grain polenta took just minutes to thicken. However long it takes, stir occasionally until you’re reached a desired thickness.
Turn of flame and add grated parmesan cheese. Stir to incorporate.
Serve Borlotti with tomato sauce over warm polenta and top with extra Parmesan if you’re feelin’ frisky.