In honor of the Super Bowl this weekend, I thought I’d share an easy recipe for a game day snack – Baked Polenta “Fries” – a nice alternative to less healthy munchies.
I was introduced to these on New Year’s Eve – a couple of co-workers co-hosted a party and had a vast array of homemade goodies to nosh (at least half of which were gluten-free), including polenta fries. After asking how they were made, I thought they would make for a great demo for this week.
There are a huge amount of recipes on the web for polenta fries, and after looking at a few I realized that you hardly need a recipe to make these – you are only limited by your imagination and time constraints.
You have a couple of options before you start – either make polenta from the dry grain (it only takes 10-15 minutes for this recipe, although the longer you cook it over low heat the more tender it becomes) or you can use the tubes of pre-made organic polenta that we sell at the Co-op – it comes in great flavors like chili cilantro, basil garlic, and their new quinoa polenta. Once your polenta choice is made, it’s simply a matter of slicing it into fry-like shapes, brushing them with oil, and baking for 20-40 minutes (depending on how thick you cut them). They stay crispy at room temperature, and taste great with a little marinara sauce. If you make the polenta from scratch, then you can make a healthy snack for a crowd for under $5.
I chose to make the polenta from scratch, and used the organic grain we carry in our bulk department. The recipe calls for using half milk and half water to make the polenta, but you can use all water if you want to make them dairy free (you could also use some vegetable or chicken broth for a richer flavor instead of the milk). I mixed in about a 1/2 cup of bulk Parmesan cheese once it was done cooking, spread it in a rimmed baking sheet, and let it sit overnight in the fridge to set, although they can set in as little as an hour. The next morning was simply a matter of preheating the oven, brushing the “fries” with oil and baking them for a satisfying snack.
Baked Polenta Fries
Inspired by Lisa Hatten
makes about 100 – 120 “fries”
1 1/2 c polenta grain
2 c milk
2 c water
1/2 c Parmesan cheese (optional)
Ground black pepper
1 t Spices/Seasonings, like Italian seasoning, garlic, chili powder, etc. or Parmesan cheese (optional)
Marinara sauce or sour cream for dipping
1. Bring 2 c milk and 2 c water just to a boil in a large saucepan over med-high heat.
2. Slowly pour in 1 1/2 c polenta while stirring constantly.
3. Stir in 1 t of salt (turn down the heat at this point if you feel the polenta is in danger of scorching).
4. Continue stirring until the polenta thickens—this could happen very quickly or take a few minutes, depending on the heat level you are using.
5. Stir in 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese (if desired).
6. Remove from heat and spread about a 1/2” thick in a rimmed baking sheet. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight.
7. Preheat oven to 450°F.
8. Cut polenta into fry-like shapes.
9. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
10. Arrange the “fries” on your prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Turn them gently to coat (or brush the oil on).
11. Bake for about 15 minutes. Turn them gently and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
12. Drain/cool on a paper towel lined plate.
13. Toss with any seasonings you wish while they are warm, but be sure to put a little salt and pepper on them before serving.
14. Serve warm or at room temperature, with warm marinara sauce or sour cream.
You can make these vegan by using all water instead of half water, half milk. You can also substitute half broth (chicken or vegetable) for the milk for a richer flavor. If you make the polenta from scratch, then you can add any flavorings you like before you cool it – try garlic (either pan or oven roasted), sun-dried tomatoes, basil, cilantro, etc.
You can also make this using Food Merchant’s organic pre-made polenta in a tube.
1. Remove from the tube and cut polenta in half shortways. Place cut side down on cutting board, and cut into 6 equal wedges. Repeat for other half.
2. Proceed to step 7. Note—you will need to adjust cooking time depending on their thickness.