Black Bean Polenta Cakes

Cinco de Mayo is coming! I can’t wait to enjoy some Mexican Food and Margaritas on Thursdsay… not that I ever need an excuse to eat Mexican and have skinny Margaritas though 🙂
We make lots of Mexican and Mexican inspired plant based dishes in the Jones household. There aren’t really any great Mexican restaurants in Bucks County so when we crave this cuisine (which is quite often) and aren’t in Philly, we put our chef hats on and whip up some homemade salsa, guacamole, and add jalapenos to everything!
This dish was a creation for Tim’s birthday. Since Mexican is the type of food he would choose if he could only eat one type for the rest of his life, it is easy to decide what dishes to make or reservations to book when we are celebrating something for him. It has a perfect blend of textures from soft, to creamy to crunchy and perfect balance of flavors from savory, to sweet, to spicy and acidic. Make as a meal with the larger sections or as a fun appetizer in rounds!
I started with the black beans in the slow cooker. No easier way to prep these things with lots of flavor! I made a bigger batch than what is needed for this dish but leftovers are great for anything. Throughout the week we add them to salads, on top of sweet potatoes, or have with a random grain and vegetable for a meal. They are super versatile and if you have another recipe you’ll want to make with them next week instead, store in a Pyrex in the freezer.

Later in the day, I roasted the pepper and baked the chips in the oven together. While they were in there it was easy to make the guac and quick pickle the onions. You’ll have extra guac too – thank God. It is never worth it to make enough guac for only one eating sesh!

I made the polenta last but it may make more sense to do it early since it needs time to cool. You can make in whatever nonstick container you’d like!

While there are a lot of components and it seems overwhelming, if you take it slow, they are actually really easy steps for a meal that anyone can accomplish!

Black Bean Polenta Cakes {V, DF, GF}


Slow Cooker Black Beans (will have leftovers):
1.5 Cups dry black beans
3 Cups water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
dash salt
Baked Plantains:
1 large green plantain
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
Guacamole (will have leftover):
2 avocados
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 – 1/4 cup onion, minced
1-2 jalapenos, minced
1/4-1/2 medium tomato, diced very small (about 1/4 cup)
1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 dashes of cumin & garlic powder
Fresh ground black pepper & sea salt to taste
Juice of 1 lime wedge
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon avocado oil
Quick Pickled Onions:
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 Cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 Cup water
1 large red bell pepper
Optional: Grass fed sharp cheddar cheese


Slow Cooker Black Beans
Add all ingredients to your slow cooker and stir
Set on high for 8 hours
Roasted Red Pepper & Plantain chips
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Place the whole pepper(s) on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.
Turn the pepper every 10 minutes and remove when skins are completely wrinkled and the pepper is charred.
Remove from the oven and place peppers in a bowl, immediately covering with foil or the top of a cooking pan.
Set aside for at least 10 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to touch.
Remove the stem, peel and seeds.
Slice pepper into thin strips
While the roasted red pepper is in the oven, prepare the plantain chips.
I like this easy recipe.
With both the red pepper and plantains in the oven, prepare the guacamole.
The guacamole directions are here from a previous post.
To prepare the polenta, boil the vegetable broth in a medium pot.
Slowly add the polenta while whisking.
Reduce heat to low and continue whisking until polenta thickens.
Cover the pot and continue to cook.
Stir the polenta well every 5-10 minutes, scraping the sides.
Cook for a total of 30-40 minutes.
Stir in the olive oil and remove from heat.
Spray desired pans with olive oil cooking spray.
Pour the polenta evenly into two 12-cup muffin tins, two cake pans, or one of each.
Let cool in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
While the polenta is cooking or cooling, quick pickle the onions.
Add the vinegar, water, honey and thinly sliced onion to a small pot and stir.
Bring to a boil, stir well, and then turn off the heat.
Let sit until you assemble the dish.
With a small rubber spatula, carefully remove the polenta from the muffin tins or, if in a cake pan, cut into six pieces and carefully remove and place on serving dish.
Next, top the polenta with 1-2 tablespoons of the slow cooked beans.
Add 1-2 pieces of roasted red pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon guacamole and pickled red onion.
Top with a polenta chip.
Serve and enjoy!

If having as a mean you definitely want to add some greens!!

What is your favorite Mexican dish? Would you prefer it with a Mexican beer, margarita, or sangria? I am a marg girl all the way!
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  1. I make a good Chicken Tortilla Casserole, also am getting better at making my own corn tortillas. This is a very neat looking recipe.