My name is Ashley McLaughlin and this is my blog, Edible Perspective. To learn more about my journey head on over to my about + FAQ pages. I'm thrilled that you stopped by. Enjoy!


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Baked Doughnuts For Everyone: From Sweet to Savory to Everything in Between, 101 Delicious Recipes, All Gluten-Free


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black bean polenta burrito bowl

Have you ever taken the time to fully caramelize onions?  Why has it taken me to the age of 29.65 to do so?  Yeah, I work in decimal points this year.  Don’t judge.

black bean polenta burrito bowl // edible perspective

I think it’s always been the amount of time it takes to do the caramelizing that holds me back.  A solid 30 minutes??  That is just way too long.

But, if you’re not incorporating the onions into another part of the recipe, which would make you wait 30 minutes before getting started on the next step, it is worth 30 minutes of your time to make them.


In that 30 minutes you can whip up the entire rest of this meal!

I’m only slightly excited.

black bean polenta burrito bowl // edible perspective

The other pieces to this puzzle are a cinch to make. 

Polenta.  Scratch that.  CHEESY polenta.  Unless you’re vegan, then plain polenta will do juuuust fine.  A handful of sharp cheddar cheese was stirred in right at the end of cooking along with a few splashes of hot sauce.  Creamy, creamy goodness.

black bean polenta burrito bowl // edible perspective

And then there are the beans.

These are the b.e.s.t. black beans I’ve ever cooked.  You’ll need one pot, a spoon, and a few other ingredients.  The KEY is adding liquid to the beans and cooking them down to become flavor packed and tender.  No dry beans here!

black bean polenta burrito bowl // edible perspective

Don’t feel like whipping up guacamole?  No problem.  Mash an avocado, squeeze 1/2 a lime on top, and sprinkle with salt.  DONE.

Just call me Rachel Ray.

I suppose if I’m being completely honest this meal probably takes 33.35 minutes to complete.  But who’s counting??

I’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible by breaking apart each component into 4 mini recipes.  At the end you’ll find a guide for the ordering and timing to make this entire meal.


black bean polenta burrito bowl // edible perspective

Print this!

Black Bean Polenta Burrito Bowl gluten-free, vegan option // yields 3-4 servings

for the onions + peppers

  • 1 tablespoon ghee/coconut oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 sweet bell peppers, sliced
  • sea salt
  1. Heat the ghee or coconut oil in your largest pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and peppers and stir frequently until just softened. 5-7 minutes.
  3. Generously sprinkle with salt, stir, then reduce heat to med-low for about 25-30 minutes until fully golden brown and caramelized.  Stir every few minutes.

for the black beans

  • 2 teaspoons ghee/coconut oil
  • 1 3/4 cup cooked black beans, rinsed + drained
  • 1 small can diced mild green chiles
  • 1/4 cup no/low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup salsa, not chunky
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoons chipotle sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • sea salt
  1. Heat the ghee or coconut oil in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until fragrant and lightly browned.
  3. Stir in the black beans, green chiles, veggie broth, salsa, 1/2 tablespoon chipotle sauce, cumin, and a few pinches of salt.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer uncovered for 10 – 15 minutes until thickened and almost all of the liquid has cooked off, stirring occasionally.
  5. Taste and add more chipotle sauce or salt if desired.

notes/subs:  It’s best to use a pureed/thin salsa as the liquid is necessary for cooking.  Chipotle sauce comes in a small can in the ethnic aisle of your store.  It is very spicy so be sure to taste along the way and add in small amounts.

for the polenta

  • 1 cup dry polenta grits
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups low/no-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, optional
  • few splashes of hot sauce
  • sea salt + black pepper

I used Bob’s Red Mill polenta grits, so be sure to check your package for exact instructions as they may vary.

  1. Bring water + veggie broth to a boil.
  2. Slowly stir in the polenta grits, add a few pinches of salt, and reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cheese [if using], hot sauce, and a few pinches of black pepper, then cover for 5 minutes before serving.  If it thickens too much add a bit more water and heat over med-low until smoothed out and creamy.
  5. Taste and add more salt if needed.

notes/subs:  The cheese is not necessary if you need this dairy-free or vegan.

for the quick guacamole

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lime
  • sea salt
  1. Mash the avocado and add the juice from 1 lime.
  2. Mix together with a few pinches of sea salt.
  3. Taste and add more salt if desired.  If you’re not serving this right away, press saran over the surface [touching] of the mashed avocado and keep refrigerated.

<< quick guide for cooking this meal >>

  1. Follow onion + pepper cooking directions.
  2. Open all cans, prep garlic, and anything else that you will need to have on hand.
  3. When the onions/peppers have about 15 minutes left, start heating oil for the black beans and follow the instructions for those.
  4. After starting the beans start the polenta.
  5. Make the quick guacamole.
  6. Garnish with green onion or cilantro if desired.  SERVE!

black bean polenta burrito bowl // edible perspective

One more thing before I go!

The new and improved Ashley McLaughlin Photography website went live Friday night!  To kick the launch off you’ll find a brand new blog post featuring my sweet cousin, Elizabeth.

Hop on over and check it out!  The entire site is brand spanking new!





Reader Comments (27)

heck to the yum! polenta, it's been too long.
& simple guacs are so underrated.
beautiful new site!!
March 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterhillary
Oh gosh, this looks so good! I'm vegan and nutritional yeast adds some cheesiness to polenta, yum! Love your backdrop for your food photos on your new site! Can you share your phto setup for food photography or do you have a post on it? Love this, as always!
Your photog site is beautiful, Ashley!!! But I wanted to let you know I'm also doing the points thing for my age this year. Hahaha. And I'm starting a 28 day gluten-free experiment, so I'll be sure to add this recipe to the list. I love caramelizing onions. :)
Gah this looks delicious! I love polenta, I love black beans, onions and peppers, really I don't know why I'm not in my kitchen making this right now. I could definitely see this becoming a classic weeknight meal for me :)
March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmilia
This looks amazing! I've never actually had polenta, but I've been meaning to try it for a
seriously long time- bow I have no excuses, off to the grocery store I go!
Congrats on the website! It looks great. And on another note, these burrito bowls look great--never would have thought of using polenta as a base, but it totally makes sense. And caramelizing onions, though it does take forever, is worth the effort every now and then. They just get so jammy and delicious!
I LOVE caramelized onions. One of my pet peeves is when people saute onions for 3-4 minutes and then call them caramelized. This looks DELICIOUS. I might make this for dinner this week.
March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Garstka
That looks delicious! And no judgement on the can take all the decimals you want on your way to 30 :-) I think it is in a rule book somewhere!
March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlyssa
@Hillary - Much appreciated about the site. Thank you!

@Abby - I actually don't have a post on that yet, but definitely should make one. Be on the lookout in the next few weeks!

@Ashley - Oooh, good luck! Let me know if you are looking for a specific type of recipe at any point!

@Brittany - Definitely give it a try! It's such a nice change from rice and cooks so much faster. Great if you're short on time!

@Laura - Thank you so very much! And yeah...the onions...amazing!

@Sarah - Hahaa! I did that a few years back. I think I cooked them for 10-15 minutes and said caramelized and someone called me out. I had no idea! Ooops.

@Alyssa - Thanks, girl. ;)
March 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
Hey Ashley! This dinner looks amazing! I am always looking for quick, low calorie dinners that my boyfriend (meat eater) and I (vegan) can enjoy. This looks really great! We love polenta in our house, so I think this will definitely be added to the rotation!
March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana
This looks fantastic! I have only ever bought ready made polenta and always found it to be bland. I will have to buy the polenta grits and try them out.
That looks so good! I too, struggle with the patience it takes to complete caramelized onions. They are sooo worth it though, you'd think that it would give me some incentive!
March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarina
I adore caramelized onions. They do take time and planning for that time, though. I've read you can do it in a crock pot but haven't tried it yet!

I love the new photo site - great job!
What a gorgeous presentation! Those are some truly beautiful photos- I think I am hungry for lunch all of a sudden!
March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJess
This looks so yummy. I love polenta but never thought to use it with these flavors. Can't wait to try it!
March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Tadic
Hi :)
this looks great!! and thanks for that caramelizing onion tip *slaps forehead* I've been under the impression that needs lots o' sugar, which is why I haven't tried it yet (saving the sugar for sweet treats ;) ), so I'm loving this!
Question about the beans: you think kidney beans would work just as well?
And I'm liking your site, just discovered it.
March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSasha
Oh wow, this dish looks absolutely amazing!! I wish I could eat it right now. I love the guide for cooking it, too - that's so helpful!
This look delicious. Great pictures, as always!
I've made a similar dish before (black beans/onions/peppers over a polenta cake), but your burrito bowl looks out of this world. I must try this in the near future.
Oh, and aren't caramelized onions the best thing ever?
@Dana - I hope you both love this meal! We are huge polenta fans as well. :)

@Anna - Definitely try making it at home. Super easy! But, like most grains it is somewhat bland. Good for a base under flavorful toppings like these or good on its own with mix-ins.

@Deva - Thanks so much about the photography site! I'll definitely have to check into making the onions in a crock pot.

@Sasha - I can totally understand why you thought that! :) You'll have to try them out! Kidney beans would work perfectly. Thanks for saying hello!

@Sarah - Aw, thank you. That means a lot!

@Catherine - Yes, pretty much!
March 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
Yum!! This looks amazing! I will definitely give it a try. And congrats on the new site. :)
March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah The Architect
Things like this (a starch + beans + veggies + avocado) are pretty much my ideal meals! This looks delicious...Polenta with a dash of hot sauce and cheddar cheese sounds amazing, I don't know why I've never tried it before!
I just finished eating this for dinner tonight and it came out AMAZING!!! I left out the cheese since I did not realize my cheese was expired. :( I could not stop eating it. I am way too full right now haha!!
March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMegan
@Megan - So, so glad to hear! Thanks for the feedback!
March 5, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
Do you consider corn meal to be the same as polenta or grits...because that is what I have and am making this for dinner!
March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBecca
Made this tonight with the corn meal. Awesome! My first time making grits so not sure how they were supposed to taste but they were nevertheless good! I didn't make the onions and peppers and poured salsa on top instead. Made the dish even faster to make. I make burrito bowls all the time with rice and quinoa but I like that I have a new option a base. Thanks!
March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBecca
@Becca - Sorry to not get back to you sooner. I was out of the house all day. Polenta is not actually the grain but the consistency/texture that it's cooked to. Medium and coarsely ground cornmeal are typically used to make polenta and you're looking for a thick but creamy consistency when eating it like a porridge. Companies will label the packages as "polenta" so you know you're buying the right coarseness of cornmeal. If you are trying to make polenta pizza crust you want it super thick. Glad you enjoyed the meal!
March 6, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley

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