Instant polenta or grits stand in for masa harina in these bowls that get their Southwest flavors from prepared salsa and a dash of chili powder. Feel free to swap out the kidney beans for whatever legume you have on hand (even lentils) and load the bowls up with extra veggies. If you like, you can also garnish with a wedge of lime for drizzling over the top.

By Mary Margaret Chappell,


  • 1 cup instant polenta or grits
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup prepared salsa
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, sliced
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish


  • Cook instant polenta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, combine kidney beans, chili powder and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat 2 minutes, or until warmed through.
  • Divide the polenta among 4 bowls. Top each serving with ⅓ cup kidney beans, ¼ cup salsa, ¼ avocado, and a sprinkling of cilantro leaves.

Comments (20)

(5 from 12 votes)

Recipe Rating

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Carrie H.

Delicious and easy!!! We often eat for dinner or lunch as well.


My first plant-based breakfast ever—did not disappoint! I can make this easily at work so it fits in with my intermittent fasting schedule also.


DELICIOUS! made with black beans and added more spices (cilantro, cumin, onion and garlic) great for ANY meal of the day!!


I followed your advice on the spices and really enjoyed this recipe. Thanks!

Angela Anderson

This recipe is so wonderful!!!?

Rose Kamerer

Delicious and easy to make it!


Wonderful breakfast! I live in the Deep South, so I used stoneground grits in mine. This will be on my "repeat" menu!

Steven, FOK Support

Fantastic to hear, Johnnye! Glad you have a favorite in this recipe :-)

Miss Nish

This Savory Tamale Breakfast Bowl recipe was delicious. It ticked off all the right boxes for flavor and texture. I first soaked and cooked the dried black beans my niece harvested with garlic, onion and bay leaf. I also made pico de gallo and cooked the polenta with nutritional yeast.

Diana L.

I don’t have grits or polenta, but I do have the masa harina that the description says they stand in for. How should I cook the masa harina to complete this recipe? Any ideas?

Romeo Romeo

As I was suggesting to the wrong person (hopefully this goes to the above comment), try making arepas instead. It won’t be a porridge, but they are just as yummy. Or you can add more water, less flour and flavors and make a porridge or farina. It will depend on which flour you have though I guess. Best

Jen Cee

Delicious and high in protein. I tried it using grits and also with and without salsa and I think I preferred it without the salsa. Great for making multiple meals - I make a new packet of grits each day and warm up the kidney beans and add fresh avocado and that made four breakfasts as expected.

Romeo Romeo

Make arepas instead then. Or experiment and try making like a porridge or farina by adding more water and some flavors. But I don’t know if that would work.

Romeo romeo

Oops wrong person, sorry. I got confused with the reply link. This was for the above comment. Best

Cathy Sughrue

What can be substituted for the Polenta or grits?


I think buckwheat groats would be tasty.


The recipe was easy, to make, colourful and nutritious. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the taste of the polenta blended with the flavours of the beans, salsa and avocado. I prefer a sweet polenta breakfast with maple syrup and plant milk but that’s personal preference and nothing to do with the recipe.


Any whole gain, like quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, etc. Add corn if you still want a corn flavor



Christine L Limbrunner

So delicious--my husband loves this. We like using black beans or pintos dusted with chili powder. I usually have homemade salsa on hand, which really brightens up the flavor for a wonderful breakfast (6 roma tomatos, 1/4 med white or red onion, handful of cilantro stems included, and a jalepeno--everything diced separately then thrown together). And, the grits/polenta reheats well.

About the Author

Headshot of Mary Margaret Chappell

About the Author

Mary Margaret Chappell

When Mary Margaret Chappell first started out in the plant-based food world as a writer, editor, and recipe developer, she was a bacon-loving former pastry chef who didn’t think she could ever cook without butter. Fourteen years, four cookbooks, dozens of cooking classes, and hundreds of recipes later, her favorite thing in the world is sharing the tips, techniques, and recipes that show just how easy and delicious whole-food, plant-based cooking can be. The former food editor of Vegetarian Times magazine has done away with her dependency on butter and is honing her skills at baking with natural sweeteners. Chappell lives in France, where plant-based eating can often be a challenge, but the fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes available are simply amazing. Find her on Instagram and Facebook.
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