I love making polenta bakes. I also love spicy tacos. So spicy taco polenta bake? I’m all in! All kidding aside, polenta bakes are so versatile. I make so many versions of this it’s ridiculous. Taco, enchilada, nacho, BBQ, buffalo chicken, spinach and goat cheese, chorizo, carnitas- you name it, I’ve made it. The process is essentially the same in each recipe, only the ingredients change. Which is probably why I make them so much. I run on auto pilot when I make these now. It’s what I go to for meal prep when I’m short on time and energy.
I really had no idea what polenta was until a few years ago when a friend of mine (Hey Jill!) told me about how she made a carnitas polenta dish and I was like…”What is this polenta you speak of?” So I investigated and long story short, a love of polenta was born. It’s basically just corn meal. That’s it. The taste is pretty neutral so it works perfectly as a base for so many dishes.
One thing to note is that the polenta I use comes in a plastic wrapped tube. When my friend told me to put it on the bottom of a casserole dish, I literally just cut the polenta into slices and stuck it in the dish not realizing I was supposed to smash it altogether like a crust. So to save someone from the same rookie mistake I made, here is a picture. You should end up with something like this.
Then it’s ready for the oven. I bake it for 15 minutes first so the polenta slightly hardens and comes together. After 15 minutes of baking, you can start to layer your ingredients. Once you have everything your little heart desires on top of your polenta crust, it’s ready for the final bake.
You can make this with ground beef, ground turkey or shredded chicken-all delicious! Sometimes I switch things up and use pinto beans instead of black beans or add corn. It’s really whatever sounds good and taco-y to you! 🙂
- 1 pkg organic polenta (I get mine at Trader Joe's)
- 16 oz of ground beef (I use 96/4 or 90/10. Use whatever you prefer)
- 1 4 oz can of diced green chiles
- 1 cup black beans rinsed
- 1/2 packet of low sodium taco seasoning (or use paprika, cumin and chili powder to make your own!)
- 3 oz lite mozzarella cheese (I get mine from Trader Joe's)
- 1/2 cup diced white onion
- 1/2 TBS avocado oil
- 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- Handful of sliced back olives
- Cilantro & Green Onions for Garnish
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
- Remove polenta from packaging and crumble with your hands. Push down into a 9x9 casserole dish greased with cooking spray to form the base
- Add salt and pepper to taste and bake polenta for 15 minutes
- While polenta is baking, begin preparing the ground beef
- Add oil to a heated skillet along with onions and minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes
- Add ground beef and seasonings to skillet, break into crumbles and cook until mostly done
- When ready, remove polenta from the oven and layer with ground beef, black beans, cheese and desired amount of olives
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Top with green onions and cilantro and serve!