This Mexican-inspired chilli is sandwiched between layers of cheesy polenta and baked into a savoury vegetarian casserole. Extra chilli can be garnished with shredded cheese, chopped spring onions, a dollop of sour cream and a splash of Tabasco sauce and served with cornbread for an easy meal.
FOR THE CHILLI
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium red capsicum, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
2 small zucchini, halved lengthways and cut crossways into thin slices
2 tablespoons chilli powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 cans (410 g each) crushed tomatoes
1 can (425 g) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (400 g) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (425 g) pinto or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and capsicum and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, carrot and zucchini and cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Add the chilli powder and cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and the chickpeas and heat through. Remove half the bean mixture; refrigerate or freeze in an airtight dish to use for another meal.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly grease a 20x20x5-cm baking dish.
Bring 4 cups of the water to the boil in a medium saucepan. Combine the remaining water, the polenta and the salt in a medium bowl. Gradually stir the polenta mixture into the boiling water. Simmer gently, stirring constantly, until polenta is no longer gritty, about 5 minutes.
Spread half the polenta over the bottom of the baking dish. Spoon the remaining chilli mixture over polenta. Reserve 2 tbsp cheddar. Sprinkle the rest over the chilli. Spread remaining polenta on top. Sprinkle with the reserved cheddar.
Bake until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Cut into rectangles to serve.
Polenta (cornmeal) and beans contain plenty of fibre, while the vegetables add vitamins, folate and anti-oxidants to fight disease.