smoky mexican beans with polenta buttermilk dumplings
1 eggplant (aubergine), halved lengthways 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil sea salt and cracked black pepper 1 onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ¼ cup (80g) chipotle chillies in adobo 700g tomato puree (passata) 1½ cups (375ml) water ¼ cup (60ml) maple syrup 400g can chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed and drained 400g can black beans, rinsed and drained 400g can black-eyed beans, rinsed and drained
1½ cups (225g) plain (all-purpose) flour 1 tablespoon baking powder ½ cup (85g) instant polenta 1½ cups (375ml) buttermilk 1 cup (120g) grated cheddar 40g unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 240°C (475°F). Brush the cut side of the eggplant with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Place, cut-side down, on an oven tray lined with non-stick baking paper and cook for 30 minutes or until very tender. Reduce temperature to 200°C (400°F).
While the eggplant is cooking, heat the remaining oil in a large heavy-based ovenproof saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until the onion and garlic is softened. Scoop the flesh from the eggplant, add to the pan and stir to combine. Add the chillies, tomato puree, water and maple syrup and bring to a simmer. Add the chickpeas, black beans and black-eyed beans, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
To make the polenta dumplings, place the flour, baking powder, polenta, buttermilk and cheddar in a large bowl and mix to combine. Spoon the dumpling mixture over the top of the beans, brush with the butter and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Serve. Serves 6.