Do any of you regularly shop at Trader Joe’s? I do, and despite the fact that it’s there every time I go in, the sample section is always an exciting surprise that I forget about until I hit the produce section and spot it at the back of the store. While I generally take a lot of pride in resisting impulse purchasing the products that I sample, there have been two notable exceptions: the Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole and this chili + polenta baked dip with cheese. My tentative homecooked dinner plans of a veggie quesadilla were immediately replaced with this creamy goodness. While the store called it a dip, it basically served as a wholesome “entree” for dinner.
After eating leftovers for dinner with sweet potato tortilla chips over a couple of days, I knew I had to make this thing for the Super Bowl! Since it is technically a dip, it seemed like a no-brainer. The boyfriend quickly snapped these pics as we were putting out snacks for the game and unfortunately I didn’t think to get a shot that shows the consistency better. Still, I’ve learned not to underestimate the power of polenta… it’s such a hidden gem! I’m definitely going to start cooking with it more, so if you have any recipe recs, please send them my way :)
– 1 large can chili (or homemade; I used vegetarian this time around and it was 18.7 oz)
– 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
– 10 oz polenta (I used just over half of the 18 oz package from Trader Joe’s)
*Like most of my favorite recipes, you can eyeball the ingredients and adjust based on what you have/your personal preferences. Feel free to add more chili if you have it on hand!
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a 11×7 baking dish, slice polenta into thin slices (about 1/2 an inch thick).* Arrange on bottom of pan.
Pour chili evenly over polenta until thoroughly covered. Cover thoroughly with cheese and bake according to instructions on polenta, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately because it’s way better hot – you may need a hefty serving utensil to spoon it out since the polenta is quite thick and still in sliced form. On that note, see note below…
* Something I want to try next time is mashing up the polenta before lining the bottom of the pan. I think this will give the bake a more dip-like consistency and make it more appetizing when it’s cooled. I’m not a huge fan of how the polenta maintains its “patty” form since it doesn’t fully melt, but I know that doesn’t bother a lot of people.