There are days when you want to spend time putting together a meal. Spending an hour chopping vegetables, stirring a pot on the stove, carefully garnishing the finished dish, that’s all fine on those kinds of days. And then there are days when you’re tired and you want to throw something in the oven and forget about it until the timer goes off.
For those days, I present to you: Baked Polenta Fries. If you haven’t had them before, they’re polenta cut into steak fries and baked until crispy on the outside. Magic happens when you bake polenta. Yes, really, magic! Although they take about 40 minutes to bake, they require minimal effort on your part–just take a tube of polenta, cut it into fries, and bake until crisp and golden and browned on the edges. Magic!
We usually have our polenta fries with jarred marinara sauce, but I thought I’d make an easy garlic tomato sauce to go with this recipe, just in case you’re feeling ambitious. This adds a little more work, but not much. The tomatoes and garlic are roasted at the same temperature as the fries and then you give them a quick spin in your food processor to puree them into a sauce.
And on a completely different note, right now I’m on my way to Georgia for my cousin’s wedding. My extended family is spread out all over the country, so it’s rare to have a chance to see (almost) everyone together in one place. This is kind of my last hurrah for summer (yes, in May!) because I’m planning on spending the rest of it holed up in the house working on my cookbook and eating popsicles. After the wedding, we’re going to Savannah for a few days and perhaps even hitting up Charleston on the way home, which I’m excited about too. I love Savannah and Charleston is home to PatatSpot, the best (okay, only) falafel & fries restaurant I’ve ever been to. Falafel!
Baking polenta makes it crispy and delicious! If you can't find tubes of polenta at your grocery store, you can make your own and cut it into fries after it sets.
- 1 (24-ounce) tube polenta (I used Basil & Garlic), halved and cut into 1-inch thick fries
- olive oil mister or cooking spray
- salt + pepper to taste
- 3 roma tomatoes, cut into large chunks
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 3 basil leaves
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray two baking sheets with olive oil.
- Place polenta fries on one baking sheet. Spray tops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place tomatoes and garlic cloves on second baking sheet and spray with additional oil.
- Transfer both sheets to oven, placing the tomatoes on lower rack. Bake tomatoes for 10 minutes, stirring after 5. Bake fries for 25-30 minutes more, until crisp and golden-brown.
- Transfer tomatoes and garlic to food processor and add olive oil, vinegar, basil leaves, and red pepper flakes. Process until almost smooth. Add salt to taste. Serve sauce with polenta fries.