Taco Polenta Casserole

Taco Polenta Casserole over lettuce and cilantro, with sour cream and salsa, and a margarita on the side. Photo by Jill Nienhiser for Farm Food Blog.

I have been thinking up nourishing dishes I can make for the family of a friend who’s recovering from cancer. Filling, comforting food that can be frozen until needed and then easily heated. I love tacos and thought their girls might like this taco-inspired dish. I made one for them and one for me and my beau, too. It was delicious!


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You’ll be layering ingredients, and it doesn’t much matter in what order you do it. I was thinking I’d make the bottom layer polenta and then mix black beans with the tomatoes as another layer. But then it turned out that the cans in my pantry were refried beans rather than just plain black beans. I decided to use the refried beans on the bottom of the pan because I thought that would be easier to spread than trying to spread them over a layer of polenta, and then I just put the tomatoes on top of the polenta. So have fun with it.

Here’s my original plan:

  • Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Thinly slice or dice the polenta and press the slices or cubes into the bottom of the dish, pressing them together to form an unbroken “crust.”
  • Prep the other ingredients so you’re ready for layering:
    • Brown the ground beef (using the tallow or bacon drippings if the beef is lean), add the onion and garlic when it is nearly done.
    • Stir in the package of taco seasoning and 3/4 cup water (or the reserved juice from the can of tomatoes). Simmer until liquid is absorbed.
    • Mix the drained diced tomatoes with the drained, rinsed black beans
  • Layer on top of the polenta
    • Half the salsa
    • Beans & tomatoes
    • Half the cheese
    • Seasoned cooked beef
    • Rest of the salsa
    • Rest of the cheese
  • Bake at 350 until hot, about 45 minutes.
  • Serve with optional sides. I like it over a bed of lettuce and cilantro, garnished with avocado, salsa, and sour cream, with chips on the side.
  • May be frozen before baking and then baked from either frozen or thawed at 350 until hot.


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