Chipotle Polenta Cakes w/ Beans, Salsa Fresca, & Avocado Crema

Posted by Noelle on March 27th, 2012
Categories: Appetizers, Entrees
Tags: ,,,,

We love Mexican flavors in our house...you will always, always find my house stocked with cilantro, peppers, canned chipotles, avocados, tortillas, spices, etc. We usually do 2-3 meals a week that our based in these flavors, and love to experiment with them. I had polenta in the pantry and had been dreaming of making a polenta cake...so why not Mexican style? For the cake I wanted a smokey chipotle infusion with a touch of sweetness, sort of play on tamales, which I also adore. The cakes are actually super easy to make as the oven does most of the work. The beans are really easy too, just throw everything in the pan and let it hang out until you are ready. If you're short on chopping time, you could easily replace my salsa fresca with a store bought fresh salsa, I won't tell. The avocado crema is what really makes this special though. It's creamy, sweet, and cooling...which is the perfect match to the smokey cakes, warm beans, and the fresh bright salsa. Plus it's the most beautiful shade of green and if you have a squeezy bottle to put it in, you can really go gourmet and artistic with your presentation. After all, we eat with our eyes first. This one is a showstopper, so invite some friends over and break open the tequila. Olé!

Ingredients:

Polenta Cakes:

Spiced Beans:

Salsa Fresca: (or you can use store bought fresh salsa)

Avocado Crema:

Directions:

For the polenta cakes...Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a glass 13 x 9 casserole dish with cooking spray. Bring water, coconut milk, salt, and agave to a boil over medium high heat. Add chipotle, sauce, garlic, and yeast whisking to combine. Add polenta and whisk constantly until the polenta starts to thicken and everything is well incorporated, just a minute or two. Remove from the heat and spoon polenta into prepared dish. Use a spatula to make the top smooth and to be sure the polenta is spread evenly. Drizzle with the olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until the polenta starts to get golden on the edges. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. When ready to serve, use a round biscuit cutter to cut out the individual cakes, for a total of 12. If you don't have one, just cut the polenta into 12 equal pieces.

While the polenta is baking, add all of the spiced bean ingredients to a medium sized pot, mixing gently with a wood spoon or spoonula (so you don't break the beans up) and heat over medium heat until bubbling. Then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally. If the beans start to get dried out, add more water. I usually like to let them simmer for 8-10 minutes so the flavors have a chance to combine. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

While the beans and polenta are cooking, combine all of the ingredients for the salsa fresca in a medium glass bowl and set aside.

To make the avocado crema, add all the ingredients to a food processor (I use a small or mini one for this), and puree. I like to put the crema into a squeeze bottle for ease of presentation (available at most stores), but if you don't have one, transfer to a small bowl and press plastic wrap right down onto the top surface of it to keep the avocado from oxidizing. One tip for the squeeze bottle, if you have trouble getting the crema out, cut more of the tip off to make a larger opening.

Lastly, to assemble everything. Place 2 polenta cakes onto a plate. Using a slotted spoon (so some of the juice runs back into the pan) smother the cakes with beans. Next add a healthy spoonful of the salsa fresca, then creatively drizzle the avocado crema over the top. You might want to garnish with a sprig of cilantro, but otherwise these are ready to enjoy. These really make a beautiful presentation, we feel extra special every time we sit down to a plate of these. Serves 4-6 as an entree.