This blog is teaching me a lot.
Back in my Canada days, I saw one of my Italian friends, the one who is a baking machine, make and eat plenty of polenta. I will admit here, I didn’t get it. It looks kinda gross to me, mushy. And I’m kind of a texture person.
Recently, when said friend was here for a visit, I asked her for some ideas for the blog and new things for me to try. Being Italian and a polenta lover, she brought up polenta. I started to tune out.
Then her and her husband explained that they often cook it, let it cool, cut it into strips or wedges, eat it like that, or even gently fry or bake it up.
Now this sounded interesting to me.
During my next grocery trip I picked up a box of polenta. I thought I would start easy with the quick cooking kind, considering I was a polenta newbie. It was cooked in five minutes, then I let it cool. I sliced it up and tried it 3 different ways: plain baked, plain fried, breaded fried. My favorite?
Plain baked, which is also the easiest and lowest in calories. You can cut them any which way you like, but I liked them pretty thin, like thin french fries. You can dip them into anything you like, I prefer a garlic aioli or a chipotle mayo, but I won’t judge you if you dip them into ketchup, especially since my dad swears by it, and it may just convince little ones that they’re actually eating french fries instead of polenta fries.
Every time I try something new and love it immediately, I wonder what else people around the world are eating that I don’t know about and need to! First farro, (which I eat at least twice a week and put pretty much anything in it that I can find) and now polenta? What is this world coming to? WHAT ELSE AM I IN THE DARK ABOUT?
Keep the ideas coming, my Italian friends. You haven’t failed me yet.
- 1 cup polenta
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 TAB salt
- 1 TAB Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- about 1/4 cup olive oil
Cook polenta according to directions on package. (I used the fast cooking kind so it was ready in five minutes). When polenta is cooked, turn off heat. Add salt, butter, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese and stir to combine until butter is melted in the hot polenta. Pour into a greased 9×13 dish, spread, smooth, and allow to cool, about one hour. (You can refrigerate it at this point and continue later).
Remove polenta from dish. Cut into even pieces. (The thinner you cut them, the more crunch you will get). Spread onto a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and more salt. Bake in a 400° degree oven for about 40 minutes, turning a few times. Remove and serve immediately.