Gluten Free Black Bean Manchego & Polenta Casserole Recipe
I have a love/hate relationship with potluck suppers. As a guest, I appreciate the fact that I can bring a dish, contribute to the meal, and know it is guaranteed there will be something gluten free there for me to eat.
As a hostess, I have a little trouble letting the control of my menu go. OK, I may be just a bit of a control freak. I am willing to admit it.
Having said that, I really do love the idea of people bringing a dish they like to serve to others and sharing in the experience of a communal dinner.
Potlucks are always tricky for the gluten free, whether it be as a host or a guest. I have learned to follow a few rules for hosting a potluck that have made my life a little easier (and safer.)
I break the dinner down into categories; appetizers, main dishes, salads and desserts. Then I make a list of the guests attending and when they ask what they should bring I can suggest a main category to them, this way I wind up with a balanced meal instead of 10 desserts and no salad.
I ask someone who is bringing salad that they put anything that would have gluten in it – like croutons – on the side. Unless they planned to make bread salad, they are happy to comply.
I delegated drinks to someone else. There are people who just don’t cook and they are happy to be let off the hook and still be able to contribute by buying something. If it is a large party, I spread it out between two or three people and I never ask any one person to just provide the wine or other alcoholic beverage as that can be pricey for someone. Even though I delegate the drinks to others, I still provide waters and maybe a bottle of wine or two just in case the people bringing drinks show up later than others.
I always make a main dish and dessert myself, that way the gluten free people are assured of having at least a main dish, a salad and a dessert.
Lastly, I have separate areas set up for the gluten food and the gluten free food to avoid cross contamination. I make sure there are separate utensils for each dish as well.
As a guest to a pot luck I usually will also bring a main dish and dessert. The main dish needs to be hearty, big enough to feed a crowd and easy to transport. It is also good if the dish can be prepared ahead and can stand to be re-heated a time or two.
I like to include toppings for potluck dishes that add a touch of freshness and allows the diner to customize their eating experience. I always bring separate dishes for my garnishes – something the host or hostess appreciates!
This Gluten Free Black Bean Manchego & Polenta Casserole recipe fits the bill for a great potluck dish perfectly! It is easy to prepare, can be made well ahead, transports beautifully and, most importantly, tastes wonderful! So wonderful in fact that when I brought this dish to such a party last night, everyone had 2 servings! I guess I should have made two.
I take a few shortcuts in this dish just to make my life easier. I make the beans using Hurst Family Harvest Chipotle Lime Black Bean Soup mix; it yields the right amount of cooked beans and comes with a gluten free seasoning packet that saves me from having to gather a bunch of spices. I also use RoTel; a canned tomato and green chili combo that packs the dish with tons of flavor with just the opening of a couple of cans.
A note on the cheese – I love Manchego in this dish! Instead of grating it I cut it into small pieces and pulse several times in the food processor, it gives it a more rustic and interesting texture; if you don’t have a food processor you can chop by hand or just go ahead and grate it. If you can find or don’t care for Manchego, feel free to substitute any type of cheese you like best; sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack are bot great options, you need 3 cups grated cheese total. If dairy free, the cheese can be substituted with your favorite dairy free variety or omitted altogether.
- 1 bag Hurst Family Harvest Chipotle Lime Black Bean Soup mix
- 2 cups gluten free polenta
- 12 ounces Manchego cheese or 3 cups shredded cheese of your choice
- 2 cans RoTel diced tomatoes & green chilies
- 6 green onions chopped
- Salt & pepper
- Sour Cream or dairy free sour cream
- Sliced avocado
- Cilantro leaves
- Pickled jalapeno pepper slices
- Lime wedges
Soak the beans overnight or up to 24 hours in cold water (if soaking more than 8 hours change the water once or twice) and reserve the flavoring packet from the soup mix.
Drain, rinse, and drain the beans again. Put the beans and flavoring packet in a Dutch oven or soup pot with 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Once the beans boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat and boil gently for 1½ hours or until the beans are tender. Add the 2 cans of RoTel and raise the heat back up to high. Cook the beans until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off the heat and stir in 4 of the chopped green onions. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
While the beans are cooking, prepare the polenta. Spray a deep dish lasagna pan (15 by 11 by 4 inches or similar sized) with gluten free non-stick cooking spray or brush with some oil.
Bring 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil. Slowly stir in the polenta. Bring back to a boil, stirring, and then decrease the heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, 10 – 15 minutes. Pour the polenta into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Set aside and let harden as the beans cook.
Cut the rind off the Manchego cheese, cut into small pieces and chop coarsely in the food processor (or just grate it.) Sprinkle half the cheese over the top of the polenta. Spoon the beans on top of the cheese, sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and the 2 remaining chopped green onions.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cook until heated through, 10 – 15 minutes.
This dish can be made ahead up to the point where it is heated in the oven. Prepare, let cool then cover with plastic wrap of foil and refrigerate. Let sit at room temperature while the oven heats up to take the chill off then heat, covered, for 15 minutes or until heated through.
Serve with as few or many of the garnishes as you like.
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