Are you looking for a great polenta recipe? The kind where the coarse cornmeal is cooked to a smoothish mush, then let it solidify and cut it and bake it and… If so, you’ve come to the wrong place. Here we’re talking recipes for polenta that comes in a tube, a great natural product that lends instant character to all kinds of dishes. Here are 8 ways to use tube polenta — recipes for some, simple ideas for others.
As for tube polenta nutrition, it’s not a powerhouse, but not at all bad, either! You’ll get zero fat, a little protein and iron, and a surprisingly good amount of vitamin C. Best of all, tube polenta will dress up even the simplest dishes, and even on its own with little or no embellishment (I’m looking at you, Baked Polenta Fries), can be surprisingly yummy.
There are a number of brands that offer tube polenta. You might find it in the Italian foods section of well-stocked supermarkets; near the flour products or gluten-free section of natural foods stores, and some Italian specialty markets. The product itself is gluten-free, but if you're very sensitive, make sure it's not from a facility that uses wheat. The package information should let you know.
Here in our Vegan Food Hacks’ kitchen, where our motto is “why bother?” we recommend making Fuss-Free Baked Polenta Fries with tube polenta. Your 2 to 3 hours of prep and wait time is cut down to 2 to 3 minutes.
If you’re trying to eat more greens, or getting your family to do so, little wedges of tube polenta add immense charm to this simple Chard with Polenta Wedges. The flavor and texture of polenta is so compatible with leafy greens; you can use kale or collards in this in place of chard, if you’d like.
Same idea, even simpler, and no recipe required — combine wedges of sautéed polenta with any steamed green vegetable — brussels sprouts, as shown above, broccoli, zucchini, etc. to make them more substantial and more appealing to picky eaters.
Use tube polenta as gluten-free croutons for salads. They make most any kind of standard salad tastier and more substantial!
When my kids were young, they loved this kind of polenta sliced, sautéed in a little vegan butter on both sides, then served with syrup and fruit. No recipe needed, maximum breakfast or brunch enjoyment.
Use tube polenta to boost easy vegan main dishes. Seitan and Polenta Skillet with Fresh Greens is one of our all-time favorites. There’s something enticing about the seitan/polenta synergy, and with the addition of greens, results in a great-looking, hearty dish.
Use tube polenta as a bed for bean dishes. Their flavors are so compatible! Sauté slices of polenta on both sides in a little olive oil until golden and slightly crispy, and top with your favorite chili. For an instant meal, use Amy’s Black Bean Chili, as shown in the photo.
This one is a little more involved, but then, it’s a holiday recipe, and not at all difficult. In Polenta, Vegan Sausage, and Mushroom Stuffing, the polenta stands in for bread, and it works spectacularly well. Try it for your next vegan Thanksgiving menu!