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  • Prep-time: / Ready In:
  • Makes 4 bowls

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.

Tamale Bowls wordpress


  • 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


  1. Cook instant polenta according to package directions.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 (5)

(5 from 3 votes)
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Cathy Sughrue2 months ago
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What can be substituted for the Polenta or grits?

Angie2 months ago
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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.

Liz2 months ago
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I think buckwheat groats would be tasty.

Carolynfnewman @gmail.com2 months ago
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Christine L Limbrunner3 months ago
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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.

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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. 

Mary Margaret lives in France, where plant-based eating can often be a challenge, but the fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes available are simply amazing.

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