Disclosure: I received a gift card to offset the expense of the ingredients used in this recipe. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
And with that out of the way, onto the content…
I’ve mentioned our love of cheese-based baked comfort dishes in the past, and this past winter I’ve found that a casserole, tart, or even frittata is a great meal for a “special” but manageable Sunday dinner. During the week we’re generally to cramped for time to wait for a main dish to bake, but on Sundays there’s a bit more time available. But, I still like to spend most of my Sunday kitchen time getting things prepped for the week ahead, which is where a simple baked dish gets truly perfect. I stick it in the oven, set the timer, and forget about it while going about the rest of my business. M. is completely taken with the idea of a skillet casserole, tart, or pie too!
So when I heard that the California Milk Advisory Board was looking for recipes featuring California cheeses, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to share one of the skillet pies we’ve been enjoying recently. It features a substantial crust of polenta and cottage cheese, and a hearty filling of black beans, tomatoes, and a blend of more cottage cheese plus a California Dry Jack that I discovered a few months back at our favorite place for cheese, the Milk Pail (they have a HUGE cheese selection, including a substantial selection of local California options).
The dry jack cheese has a firmer texture than the run-of-the-mill jack you find in most grocery stores, with a slightly “nuttier” flavor. It’s not a super strong cheese, but it does have a distinctive, if subtle flavor. I mixed it with cottage cheese in the filling to add a bit of moisture and creaminess, not to mention a substantial protein boost. And, living in California, it was easy for me to find a California version!
Black bean and tomato pie with two cheeses
For the crust:
2 c. polenta meal
2.5 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. cottage cheese
For the filling:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2″ dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
20 ox cherry tomatoes, halved (or use regular tomatoes, cut half of them into thick slices and dice the other half).
5 c. black beans
1 c. cottage cheese
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
8 oz. California Dry Jack cheese, grated
1. In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, combine the polenta, salt, and water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes, until all water has been absorbed. Stir in cottage cheese, cover pot, and remove from heat. Allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
2. In a 12″ cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and saute until soft and slightly translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 4-5 minutes longer, until the onions are just starting to brown. Add the chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes, stir together to combine ingredients, then remove from heat. Place onions in a large bowl, wipe out and lightly grease the skillent, and start oven preheating to 350F.
3. Add cottage cheese and 4 oz jack cheese to the onion mixture and stir to combine all ingredients. Add black beans and 1/2 tomato mixture.
4. By this time, the polenta should be cool enough to touch and semi-solid. Place polenta in the greased skillet and press into a crust. Pour the bean, tomato, and cheese filling into the crust, then arrange the remaining 10 oz. tomatoes on top.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, then add the remaining 4 oz of cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove pie from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
P.S. I realize I’ve fallen off the deep end with sharing recipes lately, but I’m hoping to have a bit more free time starting next month–I have lots of dishes I want to share still!