Vegetarian Polenta Casserole
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Freezer Meal, Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 24
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups diced onions (approximately 1 large)
  • 5 cups diced bell peppers (4, combination of red, yellow, orange, and/or green)
  • 6 cups diced zucchini (approximately 1.75lbs)
  • 6 cups diced summer squash (approximately 1.75lbs)
  • 4 cups cooked sweet corn ( cut from 4 ears)
  • 6 cups cooked black beans (I used dried; a 1 lb bag of dried beans should yield about 6 cups cooked)
  • 2 10 oz cans of Rotel with lime and cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 12 cups water
  • 3 cups cornmeal
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • 32 oz Monterey Jack cheese, grated and divided
  1. Begin by preparing the vegetables. If using dried beans, it can be helpful to soak them overnight, though not necessary; cover with lots of water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the beans are tender. To avoid timing issues, ensure beans are fully cooked before beginning the rest of the meal. If using canned beans, rinse and set aside.
  2. For corn, bring a large pot of water to boil, shuck corn then add to boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and leave ears in the water.
  3. Wash(peel) and dice the onion, bell peppers, zucchini, and summer squash. Heat a large skillet over medium low heat. When pan is hot, add one tablespoon of olive oil and the diced onions. Stir onions to evenly coat in the oil, then cover so they can “sweat” and sweeten. Cook, covered but stirring frequently, until soft and transparent. Put cooked onions in a large mixing bowl. Repeat steps to cook bell peppers and squashes one after another. Add 2 tablespoons water with the tablespoon of olive oil when cooking the zucchini and summer squash; since this will be baked in the oven, take care not to overcook squash or it will turn into mush.
  4. When onion, bell peppers, zucchini, and summer squash have been cooked and added to the mixing bowl, cut corn kernels from the cobs and add to the mixing bowl with the black beans, Rotel, and cumin. Stir to evenly mix, then salt and pepper to taste.
  5. For the polenta, heat 12 cups of water in a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. While water is coming to a boil, grate or shred cheese and distribute vegetable mixture evenly between the four tins. When water reaches a full rolling boil, reduce heat to medium-high; stir in salt, then whisk in the cornmeal. Stir continuously to avoid lumps until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove pot from heat and stir in half of the shredded cheese. Quickly pour polenta over the vegetables and use a rubber spatula to spread the mixture to the edges of the tins. Top each casserole with the remaining cheese.
  6. To bake immediately, preheat oven to 425F and bake uncovered until casserole is bubbly and cheese is browned.
  7. To freeze, wrap with a triple layer of tinfoil and label with the name of the dish, date, and cooking instructions. This is best eaten within 3 months of preparation. To cook frozen casserole, first thaw 24 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Bake at 425F uncovered until casserole is bubbly and cheese is browned (approximately 20 minutes if completely thawed; longer if still partially frozen).
  8. Optional garnishes might include fresh cilantro, sour cream, and/or salsa. Goes well with chicken or fish.
Recipe by Au Coeur at