Not your usual polenta recipes

These polenta side dishes are delicious, easy, and could easily steal the spotlight in every meal.

Not your usual polenta recipes

Sneaky fries with chipotle ketchup

Homemade fries taste great but they're an awful lot of work. Sneaky fries use logs of store-bought prepared polenta that fry up crisp and take half the work! Try them with burgers, hot dogs or just alone as a great snack.

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 15 minutes 

Serves 4

  • 125 ml (1/2 c) ketchup
  • 0.5 g (1/8 tsp) ground chipotle chili pepper
  • 450 g (1 lb) tube pre-cooked polenta, halved crosswise then cut lengthwise into 0.5-centimetre-thick (1/4-inch-thick) wedges
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) all-purpose flour
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 125 ml (1/2 c) canola oil
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F).
  2. Combine the ketchup and chili pepper in a small bowl and mix well.
  3. Place the polenta sticks in a large bowl and add the flour and Parmesan. Toss well.
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Fry the polenta in two to three batches, turning occasionally, until lightly golden, four to five minutes.
  5. Transfer to a paper towel–lined baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining polenta sticks. Serve with the ketchup.

One more notch!

  • Add another layer of flavour to the fries by starting with flavoured polenta.
  • Look for mushroom, sun-dried tomato and garlic, basil or a host of other flavours in the refrigerated produce section.

Polenta with smoked cheese

Smoked cheese lends fantastic aroma to nutty-tasting polenta. This easy-to-make side dish also gets a shot of salty chewiness with bits of chopped olives.

Preparation time 10 minutes

Cooking time 20 minutes 

Serves 4

  • 500 ml (2 c) instant polenta
  • 800 ml (3 1/2 c) water
  • Small bunch of sage, oregano, basil or parsley
  • 250 g (1/2 lb) smoked mature cheese such as smoked cheddar or smoked fontina, shredded or diced
  • 7 g (1 1/2 tsp) black or mixed peppercorns, crushed
  • 8 pitted black olives (preferably oil-cured), finely chopped
  1. Combine the polenta and water in a large pot. Bring it to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and let simmer until it becomes thick and starts to stiffen, stirring the polenta frequently with a large wooden spoon or paddle to remove any lumps, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, strip the leaves from the herb stalks and chop them finely.
  3. Stir in the herbs, cheese, peppercorns and olives into the polenta. Beat vigorously until the cheese is incorporated and the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pot when stirred.
  4. Serve immediately or let stand to stiffen further, five to 10 minutes. It will remain hot.

Personalize it!

If you like a more stylish presentation, when the completed polenta is stiff, mold it into egg shapes using two large metal spoons.

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