Polenta Porridge

This dish is something else.  Matt got the idea for it from an Italian cookbook with a strong bean emphasis which we picked up at the library.  Its unlike any other dish we've made, I think, but it is so filling and yummy, despite its foreignness.  It should be a rather thick porridge, but it should not be stiff.  If its too stiff just add a little more water.  I thought it was even more fabulous with a pinch of crushed red pepper included, too.  But, of course, I sort of wish every thing I ate was spicy.  This recipe makes quite a big batch.  It feeds Matt and I several times each, but since it works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner its not too hard to eat it all up.  We especially like how easy it is to add it whatever vegetables are in season or whatever beans are on hand in the cupboard--including, for the first time, our own homegrown beans.
Polenta Porridge

1 C dried pinto beans (or similar bean)
1 large bunch spinach (or other green)
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 zucchini (or a couple potatoes), chopped
1/4 C olive oil
1 C yellow polenta
8 C water
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Soak beans for eight hours.
Drain and rinse.
Combine beans, carrot, onion, garlic, zucchini, oil, and eight cups cold water over medium-high heat.

Bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  The beans will not be cooked, but do not fear.
Begin to add polenta a little at a time, stirring to prevent lumps.
Cook 45 more minutes, stirring frequently.
With about 10 minutes cooking time left add in the spinach.
Test beans to be sure they're cooked through.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve (with a slab of crusty bread).


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