Loretta Sebastiani

Loretta Sebastiani
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Polenta with kale and beans
( Polenta incatenata )

Traditional Tuscan recipe

Polenta incatenata is a great example of poor and simple cuisine (Mediterranean diet recipe) but fantastic for its combination of flavors. It is part of the tradition of Lunigiana. First of all I present to you the authentic recipe as it is done in that area of Tuscany. Then I explain my version too, certainly faster but equally good, more appropriate for modern times ;)

difficulty: easy

time: 1 h 40 minutes

calories: 550 (kCal)

Ingredients / Serves 4

  • 500g (1.1 pound) Tuscan kale
  • 250g (8 3/4 ounces) shelled fresh beans
  • 300g (10 1/2 ounces) ground corn flour
  • Freshly grated Parmesan
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3l (6 1/3 pints) salted water
easy recipe
preparation: 20 minutes
cooking: 80 minutes
total: 1 h 40 minutes
How many calories in a serving?
Calories: 550 (kcal) 28 % - 2300 (kJ)
Protein: 17.4 (g) 35 % GDA
Total fat: 14.1 (g) 21 % GDA
Total carbohydrate: 91.1 (g) 34 % GDA
Sugars: 4.8 (g) 6 % GDA

Download free PDF version (1315 download).

Recipe for polenta incatenata (polenta in chain)

Preparation and cooking

  • - Prepare Tuscan kale.
    Clean and wash it.
    Cut into strip.
  • - Cooking.
    Let your beans boil for at least 10 minutes in salted water.
    At this point add kale and a glass of olive oil, too.
    Continue cooking for few minutes, stirring rarely.
    Then add in the corn flour, stirring constantly, so that no lumps may be formed.
    Continue cooking, stirring always, 40 to 50 minutes.
    Your polenta should remain very creamy and soft.
    Keep some water boiling to be added if necessary.

Just before serving

  • - Transfer a few spoonfuls of polenta in a bowl, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and serve at once.



  • - If you have any polenta incatenata left you can cut into slices and grill them or fry with onions on a very low heat in a non-stick frying pan.
    You can serve these slices to accompany meat or fish dishes.
  • - Here's my version for a quicker polenta incatenata (it often happens to me to have no enough time for the full recipe). I use frozen beans (250g - 8 3/4 ounces) and pre-cooked corn flour (about 375g - 13 1/4 ounces).
    I bring to a boil 2.8 liters (5.9 pints) salt water, add the beans still frozen and wait for the water back to a boil. At this point make my beans cook for ten minutes. Then I add kale too and continue cooking for a couple of minutes. I turn off the stove and wait five minutes because it is dangerous to add the corn flour directly into boiling water. It can cause too many hot splashes ;) Now I turn on the stove again, pour in the corn flour very slowly, stirring constantly with a whisk. I continue cooking, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. I add olive oil once turned off the stove: 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons.
    1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese per serving, optional.
  • - There are a few variations of this recipe involving the amounts of beans and kale. Some people add cabbage too. Someone else calls this polenta dish in a different way. Anyway it is delicious! It's really true the simplest food is the tastiest food! What do you think about?

Menu planning

  • - You can serve polenta incatenata as one-plate meal for your family or prepare it for your special get-togethers.
  • - In the second case polenta incatenata will be your main dish. Begin your menu with a typical assorted antipasto platter, Italian-style (look below for the link), serve polenta incatenata and close with a fall cake such as apple pie.
    Another idea could be to serve this polenta dish in individual little bowls as a starter together with other finger food or cold cuts.
    It may accompany meat or fish dishes too, in small portions.

Useful links for this recipe

Healthy eating

  • - Practically impossible to calculate the nutrition facts of the traditional recipe for polenta incatenata. Then the values ​​that you can read concerning my own version without the Parmesan cheese. Consider that each tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese provides about 58 calories, 5 grams of protein and 4.2 grams of fat.
  • - Polenta incatenata is an excellent example of dish to prepare often: it is vegetarian and has an important ingredient that is beans, rich in anti-cancer substances. Complete your meal with fresh fruit. For people with big appetites ... I suggest to add seasonal raw vegetables to munch on ...


What's the right wine for " Polenta with kale and beans "?

My husband and I suggest to pair a good red wine such as Sassella Superiore della Valtellina (Lombardy) or Colli di Luni (Tuscany)