Smoky Beans and Polenta | Naturally Ella

I grew up actively avoiding baked beans. They were almost always at any family get-together but I was an avid bean hater (which is funny given how much I love them now). While I still don’t really eat baked beans, I love the idea behind them. Warm, smoky beans paired with salty bacon- it’s hard to go wrong. This is why I love these smoky beans so much. I took the idea behind Laura’s coconut bacon and used the flavor in these beans. Using smoked salt really brings the flavor together and this dish might just be my new favorite comfort bowl.


Smoky Beans and Polenta

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Cuisine: dinner


Vegetarian comfort food at it’s finest: creamy smoky beans paired with polenta.


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 cups cooked kidney or Jacob’s cattle beans (drained and rinsed if using canned)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked salt
  • [url]Polenta, for serving∞[/url]
  • Scallion greens, for serving
  • Black pepper, for serving


  • Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil followed by the minced shallot. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shallot is fragrant and translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients, through the smoked salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. The beans should be hot and the sauce thick. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of water as needed. Taste and add a pinch more smoked salt as needed.
  • Divide the polenta into four bowls and top with the smoky beans, chopped scallion greens, and a grind or two of black pepper.


Tips & Tricks: Leave out the butter in the polenta or use a vegan substitute to make the overall dish vegan. If you need to cook the beans from their dried version, I prefer the quick-soak version found on this page

After making these beans a couple of times more, I find I like a splash of acid in these beans. Try a tablespoon or so of sherry or balsamic vinegar to the mix!

Stock up: get the pantry ingredients you will need: tomato paste, smoked paprika

Nutrition:  see the information (includes vegan polenta base).

Link:  recipe adapted from The First Mess.


  • Calories: 303
  • Sugar: 4.9
  • Sodium: 328
  • Fat: 3.4
  • Saturated Fat: .5
  • Carbohydrates: 57.5
  • Fiber: 9.5
  • Protein: 11.1
  • Cholesterol: 0

Smoky Beans


To be truthful, I ate the beans by themselves for lunch. No polenta, no grains: just beans. That’s how good these are. However, there’s a few ways you can use these beans to make a meal:

Grains: If you want a speedier meal, swap the polenta for precooked grains or easy-to-cook grains like quinoa or millet.

Vegetables: Serve these beans with grilled or roasted vegetables. A few ideas: roasted cauliflower, grilled zucchini, or even these garlicky greens.

Chili: On my list to make this winter is a chili with these flavors. Try adding a bit more of a tomato base and throw in some bulgur to bulk it up.

Smoky Beans and Polenta using Jacob's Cattle Beans