Mexican Beans & Rice Polenta Pie

It’s a rice and beans pie with salsa and guacamole. What’s not to like? The cornmeal base is the trickiest part of the recipe – if you don’t cook it long enough it’s still pretty mushy when it comes out. The recipe has multiple “parts” to it, but it’s really very easy. Start getting everything going about two hours before you plan to eat. From The China Study Cookbook


Servings: about 6, enough for 3-4 ravenously hungry adults if served with no sides

  • 2 cups water
  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • one 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, drain juice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (Pacific low-sodium is what I use)
  • 1 tbs. chili powder
  • 1 cup brown rice, short-grain preferred but long-grain works too
  • one 15.5-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup salsa (I like Mateo’s)
  • 1 or 2 avocados, depending on how much guacamole topping you want
  • ¼ tsp. lemon juice (double for 2 avocados)
  • ~¼ tsp. (or less) garlic powder
  • Optional: sea salt to taste


Preheat your oven to 350°F when your rice is halfway through its cook time.

Place the onion, garlic, tomatoes, broth, chili powder, and rice in a rice cooker or large pot. If you’re using a rice cooker set the cook time for Brown Rice. If you’re using a pot you need to cook the rice until all liquid is gone and rice is tender, about 45 minutes.


When the rice is halfway done, preheat the oven and place a medium-sized saucepan on the stove over High heat. Pour the 2 cups of water, cornmeal, and sea salt into the pan. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down to Medium while the cornmeal absorbs the water. Cook until the cornmeal is pulling away from the sides of the pan. You want this to be very dry and absorb/steam off as much of the water as possible. 

Let the cornmeal cool a bit before you spoon it into a pie tin. Use an actual pie dish; I learned the hard way that the glass casserole dish I was using was a bad idea – the cornmeal doesn’t bake into a good bready crust. Use a large pie dish.

If you don’t care about the cornmeal being a little mushy, any kind of casserole or baking dish works well enough. Spread the cornmeal around to cover the bottom.


Cook the cornmeal in the oven for about 15 minutes, but keep it in until the edges are slightly browned. It’s good to bake the cornmeal on its on for awhile to help it harden up into a crust consistency. When it’s done, pull it out of the oven and set it aside until the rice is ready. Keep the oven at 350°F.

When the rice is done, mix in the black beans and spread the rice-bean mix over the top of the cornmeal.


Then spread the salsa over it.


Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. If you’re using a glass dish you can try to visually check to see if the cornmeal has browned up a bit on the bottom.


After it’s out of the oven

Sometime while it’s cooking, mash the avocado in a bowl (I use a fork) and mix it with the lemon juice and garlic powder. 

Spread the guacamole over the top of the pie, and it’s ready to serve! I find it easiest to take it out with a pie server.



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