The Daily Beet

23 May Saving Time With Char: Polenta Fries… Quick And Easy

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Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 8.05.08 AM

Polenta seems to be the new black.  On many modern menus, it seems to be a replacement for the omnipresent potato.  Now, you know that I love the potato, but variety is one of the tools that helps to energize me on my plant-strong journey.

I recently saw a traditional recipe for polenta where the final product was then made into oven-fries.  First I had to “flip” the recipe to meet the pillars of plant-strong goodness.  And once that was done, I was able to prepare “polenta fries” for the freezer.  If you’re in the market for something to partner along with your veggie burger, well, these polenta fries will make your heart sing.  And from the mountain tops!

Follow this quick and easy recipe, and make yourself some fries.  I’d make a double recipe, because these will be a huge hit with everyone.

Polenta Fries

  • 2 qt (2 l) water
  • 21⁄4 cups (1 lb) instant polenta
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz) unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1⁄2 cup (2 oz) nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp flaxmeal (this will help to bind the polenta)
  • Freshly ground pepper and garlic powder
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and slowly add the polenta while whisking constantly. Cook, continuing to whisk, until the polenta has thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the heat. Add the non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, and flaxmeal, and seasoning.  Stir with  a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended and the polenta is smooth.
  3. Pour the polenta into the center of the prepared baking sheet. Using a rubber spatula, spread it toward one end of the pan, pushing it into the corners and then to the edges, covering about two-thirds of the pan in an even layer. Let cool at room temperature until set, about 1 hour.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400°F . Invert your pan.  Remove the top sheet of parchment and cut the polenta into strips about 1⁄2 inch wide and 4 inches long. Using a spatula, transfer the strips to a clean rimmed baking sheet, spacing them about 1⁄2 inch apart. Once on  the baking pan, sprinkle with freshly squeezed lime juice, then cover generously with added nutritional yeast.  This will coat the “fries” and add some crunch.
  5. Bake in a 400 degree oven until the fries have developed a crust and the edges are golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.  Serve with your favorite condiment.  You should have about 60-70 fries.

If you are going to make “freezer fries,” flash freeze your fries on a cookie sheet.  After about an hour remove them, and pack them into freezer bags, say 10-12 per bag.

Cooking in bigger batches is the best way I know to save time.  After a long day’s work, you can have dinner in about 10-15 minutes with a salad, a veggie burger, and polenta fries.  On your journey to wellness, being prepared keeps you safe-guarded in the kitchen at all times.

You are going to LOVE these fries.

CHAR NOTE:  You may want to start off with a few tablespoons less of the water and non-dairy milk.  I find that less water will give you a studier sheet of polenta to cut into fries.

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Char Nolan for Engine 2
Char Nolan

Char Nolan is a blog contributor and Engine 2 Extra Coach. She's been plant-strong for almost five years. From Philadelphia, she works in the plant-based whole foods arena, and is also the "vegan features writer," for the "Town Dish." She's lost a great deal of weight from being plant-strong, practices yoga, and is always dabbling in her kitchen to create new, plant-strong recipes. Armed with a degree in public health, Char also holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from e-Cornell.

  • Leah
    Posted at 10:27h, 23 May

    I really like this idea, thanks Char! We both loved your potato tacos when we made them too!

  • Kathy A. Rice
    Posted at 10:53h, 23 May

    Is this a root? Or what?

    • Colleen
      Posted at 11:07h, 23 May

      Polenta is basically just corn meal.

  • Jeff Taraday
    Posted at 12:10h, 23 May

    These sound gooooooooood — just bought some polenta and now I can’t decide whether to try your pizza or these fries first!

  • Deb Bassett Hollimon
    Posted at 13:53h, 23 May

    What is the purpose of the dry milk? Is there a substitute for Engine 2 legal fries? Would potato flakes work?

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