Baked Polenta Fries

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Polenta is hands-down my favorite new grain to work with.  I like Bob’s Red Mill brand and actually subscribe to shipments of it through Amazon Subscribe & Save.  You can find it online, packaged at most specialty grocery stores, or even in the bulk bins at some big chains like Kroger (check the organic section). It’s a surprisingly versatile grain that’s not limited to use as a plain side dish.  These polenta fries are my favorite way to work with this grain; they become golden and crispy on the outside but stay creamy inside, and the fairly neutral flavor means you can experiment with different spices and sauces.
Baked Polenta Fries: The Libra Kitchen

Baked Polenta Fries: The Libra Kitchen

Nutritional yeast is another new ingredient I’ve been experimenting with; I use it in place of an aged cheese in this recipe.  Nutritional yeast is a great alternative to cheese when you need to add creamy texture to a dish like polenta, pasta, or risotto.  It doesn’t melt quite like cheddar or mozzarella, so you wouldn’t use it as a substitute in mac & cheese or pizza, but it works great when you just need to add a little bit of savoriness to a dish.  You can find nutritional yeast in the bulk bins at a health foods store (I get mine at Whole Foods), or packaged online.

To get started, bring your water or broth to a low boil in a small saucepan.  Slowly pour in polenta, add thyme and salt, and start whisking so the grains don’t clump together.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and whisk occasionally until the polenta becomes creamy, about 15 minutes.  Fold in butter and nutritional yeast, turn off the heat, and stir until fully incorporated.

Pour your cooked polenta into a 9×9″ baking dish brushed with olive oil, and smooth the surface of the polenta with a silicone spatula.  Transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for 2-4 hours.

 

Baked Polenta Fries: The Libra Kitchen

When polenta is set, preheat your oven to 450 F.  Brush or spray some oil onto a wire rack, and place the rack over a baking sheet.  Carefully overturn your dish onto a cutting board and tap the bottom until all of the polenta has falled onto the board.  It will be jiggly yet molded into the shape of the dish. Cut the polenta into half-inch thick slices, then cut each slice in half.  This should produce about 24 “fries”.

Arrange the fries onto the wire rack and bake for 15 minutes.   Then set  your oven to a low broil and broil the fries for 5 minutes per side, so each side gets crispy and golden.

 

Baked Polenta Fries: The Libra Kitchen

This dish satisfies your cravings for crispy snacks like french fries or chips, but it’s whole grain and easy to prep ahead of time.  You could even make this vegan by substituting the butter with vegan butter or olive oil. I served this batch alongside a light salad, but I have also set some out with pesto dipping sauce as an easy appetizer at parties.  Next time I might try these fries with a homemade spicy ketchup, or even barbecue sauce.

 

Baked Polenta Fries: The Libra Kitchen

 

Baked Polenta Fries

Prep time: about 2h 30min

Total cooking time: 25 minutes

 

Ingredients:

3/4 cup polenta (not the quick-cooking kind)

2 1/2 cups water or broth

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp dried thyme

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp butter

Extra-virgin olive oil, for pan

 

Directions:

Bring your water or broth to a low boil in a small saucepan.  Slowly pour in polenta, add thyme and salt, and start whisking so the grains don’t clump together.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and whisk occasionally until the polenta becomes creamy, about 15 minutes.  Fold in butter and nutritional yeast, turn off the heat, and stir until fully incorporated.

Pour your cooked polenta into a 9×9″ baking dish brushed with olive oil, and smooth the surface of the polenta with a silicone spatula.  Transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for 2-4 hours.

When polenta is set, preheat your oven to 450 F.  Brush or spray some oil onto a wire rack, and place the rack over a baking sheet.  Carefully overturn your dish onto a cutting board and tap the bottom until all of the polenta has falled onto the board.  It will be jiggly yet molded into the shape of the dish. Cut the polenta into half-inch thick slices, then cut each slice in half.  This should produce about 24 “fries”.

Arrange the fries onto the wire rack and bake for 15 minutes.   Then set  your oven to a low broil and broil the fries for 5 minutes per side, so each side gets crispy and golden.  If you like them extra crispy, dab some olive oil on the top of each fry after flipping.

Serve alongside your favorite dipping sauce (I like pesto for this purpose) as an appetizer or snack, or as a side dish to salad or burgers.

Branding

Hello!

I cook a lot, and I like to experiment with different ingredients, so over the past two years or so my friends have suggested I start a food blog.  So, I’m starting a food blog! I picked the Libra reference not only because it’s my astrological sign, but because it represents the concept of balance in food and in life.  Have your cupcakes and your kale too, or something.

Here’s a sample of what you can expect to read about:

  • Recipes
  • Meal planning, and the various apps I use to keep myself organized
  • Our weekly CSA share (starting mid-June)
  • Occasional restaurant reviews and photos of delicious Columbus food

signatureLet’s start cooking!

 

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