Cheezy Baked Polenta Fries
Crispy, crunchy, POTATO-FREE? Yep, you betcha. And just as full of flavor as the original, but crunchier! And crunchy fries are my favorite. Polenta, a simple grain-based dish that cooks up a little like steel but oats (but way creamier), is a great replacement here. The flavor is a little corn-y, the crunch is unbeatable, and the cheezy flavor takes the whole dish up a notch. Plus, polenta fills you up and is a seriously cheap kitchen staple that is great to keep on hand.
But back to the fries: YUM. Alex loved them and ate them all day long until they were gone, even cold and -in my opinion- a little less enjoyable after hours on the counter. The dough can easily be made ahead and refrigerated overnight, so you can make the dough tonight and enjoy it for dinner tomorrow night- just set the timer and walk away! And who doesn't love a meal like that?
One last note: I have never actually used pre-made polenta that comes in a sausage-like roll from the grocery store. That being said, if thats what you have on hand, skip straight to the step where you mix in the spices and butter, and continue with the recipe. Let's eat!
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups uncooked instant polenta (bramata)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup vegan butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
coconut oil, for greasing pan
Bring water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling, reduce heat and pour in polenta, stirring to combine. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to pull away from the sides of the pot, about 5 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat and stir in the nutritional yeast, butter, salt & pepper. Stir well, until the butter has completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
Pour mixture onto a smooth surface like a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones), and spread using a rubber spatula to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Let cool on the counter at least 30 minutes, until polenta becomes solid and cools off completely. While waiting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Once your polenta slab has cooled, gently move it from the pan to a cutting board (best done in sections) to be cut. You can leave the mixture on the baking sheet and use a pizza cutter, if that floats your boat. Otherwise, use a large knife to cut the slab in half, and then into 1/4 - 1/-2 inch strips, until all the polenta has been cut. Transfer fries to a greased (coconut oil works great in the high heat!) baking sheet, and bake for 45-50 minutes, flipping once, until fries are crispy and golden.
Remove from oven, serve with ketchup, sriracha mayo, or vegan ranch. Enjoy!
*Dough can be made ahead, wrapped in plastic, and refrigerated overnight or until ready to bake.
**Don't have coconut oil? That's okay, but try to use a high heat oil (sesame, grapeseed, avocado) to avoid burning!
***Fries can be REHEATED in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Overcooking them will result in uber- crunchy fries, so be careful. Cooking them just right, however, results in more deliciousness.