There are lots of posts on food blogs and sites for baked polenta fries, in which a rather lengthy process is detailed. First, the polenta is cooked from scratch (it’s kind of like a coarse cornmeal mush for those of you not familiar with it); then it’s spread into a dish in which it cools and firms up; then the fry shapes are cut from that. And because food blogs usually want to present recipes that involve more than one or two ingredients, seasonings are added to the mix, as well.
I, too, presented such a recipe. And much as I love polenta fries, I have to admit that I never made them that way again. It’s not that it’s difficult; it is tedious, and between the cooking of the polenta and letting it set, we’re easily talking about 2 to 3 hours before they even go into the oven.
Here in our Vegan Food Hacks’ kitchen, where our motto is “why bother?” we recommend making this tasty treat with precooked polenta — the kind that comes in those neat tubes. Your 2 to 3 hours of prep and wait time is cut down to 2 to 3 minutes. I think that sounds like a good deal.
Fuss-free baked polenta fries go well with vegan burgers, wraps, and sandwiches. They make a yummy side dish for main-dish salads, too. See them below with Tempeh Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Wraps.
Season them with pepper, dried herbs, your favorite seasoning blends, or nothing at all. I just like them plain, with ketchup.
Depending on how much other food is being served with these, and how addictive you find them, this serves 2 to 4.
What to do
1 Preheat the oven to 425º F. If your oven runs hot, 400º F is fine, too.
2 Remove the tube of polenta from its plastic packaging. cut off a little of the puckered ends (though you can include them in the mix). Cut the polenta in half crosswise, then cut each section into fry shapes.
3 Put them into a bowl and drizzle in a little oil — not too much! — and toss together gently to distribute.
4 Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes, or until crispy and firm on the outside. Don’t overbake, these firm up a little even after removing from the oven.
5 Season the polenta fries with salt and pepper, herbs, seasoning blend, or just leave them unseasoned.
6 Serve with ketchup or your favorite sauce on the side of your favorite sandwiches, wraps, or vegan burgers.
See more of our Hack This! features and other vegan food hacks.
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