I think it’s time to declare February as Bean Month, at least in the LKBF kitchen. Don’t worry, I already confirmed that there is no conflict with an actual National Bean celebration. The closest holiday is National Baked Bean month, and that’s all the way in July. For some reason, we’ve been on a bean kick lately. And, today, we’re sharing with you the third (yup, count ‘em) recipe that incorporates beans this month.
What’s not to like about these good, old legumes? They certainly are versatile. There’s black, white, red, green and even pink options. Some varieties are big, while others are small. You can serve them up as a side dish or incorporate them right into a main dish. They’re perfect in soups, skillets, dips, and even mixed in with pasta. Throw them in the crockpot, cook them on the stove top, or just pop the top! No matter what, a dish filled with beans means a hearty, healthy, and cheap way to fill your plate!
Ok, so maybe they’re a bit less healthy when topped with pork, polenta, and cheese (well, at least you’re getting your daily share of protein in this recipe), but they’re plenty tasty. There are a lot of components going on here, but none of them take long to whip up. First, throw your pork into the crockpot. It’s going to cook for four hours in a mixture tangy balsamic vinegar and sweet brown sugar, so the result is tender and juicy, without any effort.
Then, get your black bean soup going. It’s worth all of the chopping, I promise. This soup has so many layers of flavors going on. It’s savory and a bit spicy, but the cinnamon and sugar cut in a hint of sweetness. We prefer to only puree 3/4 of the batch, and leave a 1/4 with the diced veggies and beans, to provide an additional texture to the soup. This soup is hearty and thick enough to make it a meal of its own (which is good because you’re going to have plenty of leftovers), but tastes even better with a little pork and polenta on top.
Finally, you’ll make the polenta (super simple – just follow the instructions on the package) and spread it on top of the pork layer. Then, top it with plenty of pepper jack cheese. After a quick trip to the oven, these crocks are a hearty, warm and satisfying meal. They’re perfect for February and my new made-up food holiday. And, they’re perfect for each person to have their very own, single-serving meal. I love not having to share! It’s perfect for loving on beans!
Just how healthy? I started the research for you. (Obligatory Disclaimer – I am not a nutrition expert. When I want to learn more, I google things just like you!) Beans are basically the perfect food to keep you going all day long. They have tons of fiber, protein, water content, and very little sugar. Plus, beans are rich with antioxidants, which helps prevent many terrible diseases. So, you can feel great about filling up on these little guys.