New favourite carbohydrate? Hands-down, polenta.
(Google dictionary wants to autocorrect “polenta” to “tadpole” – silly Google, tsk tsk)
The Italians were onto something when they started grinding up popcorn kernels and boiling them. Neighbouring countries may have been skeptical, but it really and truly was their loss. Mind you, growing-up German, I know for sure that the Germans jumped onto that train eventually, and I think most countries have done so too by now, and who can blame them! POLENTA IS BLOODY COOL.
Versatility is the key word with polenta. Boil it in water, and you have a pretty solid savoury base to add whatever you want to it. Add a sauce, and you have a hearty, gloopy, saucy main; add some protein (chicken, fish… whatever tickles your diet), and you have an awesome balanced, filling meal; simply add good seasoning, and a good curry, and your Eastern desires will be filled. The sky’s the limit with this guy.
Feel like skipping dinner and going straight to dessert? I feel you. So, just add cinnamon and sugar instead, and boil it in milk rather than water. Voila, you have a beeaaautiful variation of milk-rice pudding. Yum yum yum.
And then you get these guys: polenta chips. I read this on a blog somewhere, and it came from leftover polenta that had hardened in the tray (by “hardened” we just mean solidified. It’s like tough jelly, more or less).
That being said, I started making these as a first-use for the polenta, simply leaving the polenta to harden and then slicing it onto a baking tray. Psssht, don’t tell me to wait for leftovers to make good food. You’re joking, right?
As a twist, I brushed mine ever-so-lightly with balsamic vinegar and homemade chilli olive oil, just for the extra je ne sais quoi. If you under-season your polenta while it’s cooking – which I recommend doing – some coarse salt and dried herbs make a beautiful addition to the baking process as well.
And baking them takes about 25 minutes. The worst part, honestly, is making the polenta, which always leaves me with anxiety and far too much cleaning, haha. But regardless, it’s really worth it – look how cute they look!
Trust me, these little guys are far too appetising to get past your hunger later in the day, so please have no shame in finishing them all in one sitting.
Baked polenta chips
1 cup polenta
4 cups water
seasoning (salt, pepper, herbs… whatever you want, really)
optional: balsamic vinegar and olive oil
- Make the polenta according to instructions, but essentially: bring water to boil, stir in polenta and continue stirring for 5 minutes and then move to a hot plate with a low heat (or reduce heat on your gas stove).
- Watch polenta and let it simmer and cook until nice and thick. Here is where you can under-season it, just enough to give it flavour. A teaspoon of salt, and another teaspoon of pepper should do it. Dash of some of the dried herbs, too.
- Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius and then transfer polenta to a baking dish and let cool until it stiffens enough for you to turn it out onto a plate.
- Brush with balsamic and olive oil, and slice into chip-looking “fingers.”
- Lay out onto a baking tray with baking paper, sprinkle with coarse salt, some extra peppers, some herbs – go wild – and bake for 25 minutes or until starting to go golden. You want the insides squishy and outsides crunchy-ish. Enjoy!