Back when I first went gluten-free, when it came time for a salty snack, I clung to corn tortilla chips as if they were the only good thing left in what felt like a big list of NO’s. As I soon learned, there was still a whole wide world full of good and good for me food that was not claimed by the monster formerly known as gluten.
That creamy stovetop cornmeal porridge that makes wonderful savory breakfasts or croutons also makes one snackable fry. It’s crispy outside and creamy inside makes baked polenta fries instantly satisfying. While you could whip up a batch with the most basic ingredients—cornmeal, water, salt, and pepper—these polenta fries are flavored with chicken or veggie broth, thyme, and nutritional yeast.
If you are new to nutritional yeast, aka nootch, it is a dairy-free savory seasoning often used for it’s nutty, cheesy flavor. Plus, it’s loaded with B vitamins and often fortified with B12. A win-win in my book.
Dunked into this spicy cajun aioli, and you’ve got one tasty snack or appetizer. Enjoy!
- 2 cups organic chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 1½ cups (254g) polenta or cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or vegan butter)
- ½ cup (105g) nutritional yeast (I use Bragg's)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil for brushing
- Cajun Aioli
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (or vegenaise)
- 1 teaspoon homemade or store-bought cajun seasoning
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- squeeze of lemon
- Grease and line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper, with two sides overhanging to use as handles. In a large saucepan, bring chicken (or veggie) broth and milk to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to medium. Slowly add polenta into saucepan, whisking constantly. Reduce heat immediately to medium-low or low, continuing to whisk almost constantly until thick and creamy, about 7-8 minutes. You'll want a lower heat that keeps it from splattering.
- Remove from heat and add butter, nutritional yeast, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Transfer to prepared pan. Press polenta into an even layer and smooth top with a spatula. An extra piece of parchment is helpful in pressing polenta into pan.
- Refrigerate for two hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently lift out slab of polenta using parchment handles and transfer to cutting board. Slice polenta into 18 (4 x 1-inch) strips and place onto a greased baking sheet. Brush each strip with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake for 15 minutes, carefully flip over strips, and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes more or until crispy and browned on the edges.
- While the polenta fries are baking, combine the Cajun Aioli ingredients in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve with polenta fries.