Food & Drink Magazine

Recipe: Polenta “Fries” with Roasted Tomato Sauce

By Kcsaling009 @kcsaling


Food is a big part of my life {as you may have noticed}, but it’s also a big part of being healthy. I’ve really been reading up on what kinds of changes I can make to my food in order to feel better and stay healthier, and I’m still looking for answers. I investigated what it means to be “paleo,” and while the recipes and the idea are sound, I’m reluctant to fully give up milk, cheese, organic grains {like whole corn} or fresh pasta made from organic flour. I do, however, believe in eliminating as many chemically processed or artificial products from your diet as possible.

To my shock, I didn’t include beer here. I’ve actually…mostly given it up lately. I won’t say I’ve been completely noble, I think it’s mostly just been too @#$% hot here to enjoy the beers I like, but I haven’t missed it. Amazing.

Anyway, I’ve really been examining the rules of good eating lately, and through all the dietary research I’ve done, no matter whether I’m looking at paleo plans, clean eating, South Beach, or many others, I’m starting to come to the conclusion that there are some basic rules to keep in mind.

1. Stay away from processed and artificial stuff. There isn’t enough research out there yet for you to really know what it does to your insides.

2. There is never anything wrong with replacing sugary, starchy things like bread and potatoes with lean meat and veggies.

3. Buy organic, local, and fresh whenever possible. Make sure you know what the vendor means when he puts an organic label on his stuff, because it’s not all the same.

4. Eat the stuff that makes you feel good. Seriously, not as in I-want-that good, but as in, I feel happy and healthy all day and the day after good. Listen to your body.

5. Less is more. Simple, balanced meals in reasonable portions are your best friend in living a healthy life.

There is no name for this diet. It isn’t a diet. It’s just a bunch of common sense discoveries from a girl who is not a cerfitied health and fitness professional…oh, wait, I’m a master fitness trainer with thirteen years of experience designing and implementing exercise and meal plans. Nevermind.


So I’m not giving up my stone-gound and steel-cut organic grains, like stone-ground cornmeal {this isn’t like the high fructose stuff – while this is kinda high in calories, it’s extremely high in nutrients and without all the processed crap}. Let me show you why, and tell you a little bit about my love affair with the humble French fry.

Back in the dark ages {circa 2003} when I lived in Washington, I had a group of friends that I’d go hiking and rock climbing with regularly, and we spent a lot of time climbing around Mount Index. We’d come down off the mountain, and driving out of town, we’d pass a McDonald’s, and the smell of French fries would drive us all crazy. To this day, I can’t smell a French fry without thinking of those moments. Heartwarming, yes. Fattening? Oh yeah.

I think I’ve found a solution. I recently came across this recipe {once again, in Claire Robinson’s lovely book, 5 Ingredient Fix} and absolutely had to make it, and it turns out, it’s extremely tasty and just as hearty as a steak fry. And when all’s said and done, one serving of these bad boys comes in at 300 calories with 16 grams of fat. For regular French fries or steak fries, you’re looking at close to 600 calories and 31 grams of fat for the same thing.

Polenta “Fries” with Roasted Tomato Sauce

Makes 4 servings.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse-ground “whole corn” cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups grape tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper


How to make it:

1. Start by boiling the water in a large pot with the sea salt. I love my Kitchenaid pots for this. So they’re Kitchenaid, but don’t let it fool you into thinking they’re pricey – I got the whole batch from Costco for $49 and it’s the best kitchen investment I’ve made! On top of that, the darn things are so pretty and cheerful that I can’t help but love them!


2. Okay, back to what we’re making. You’ve boiled the water, right? Get a whisk out. Drizzle in the cornmeal and whisk the water and cornmeal together until they’re pretty smoothly milled.

3. Ditch the whisk. Grab a wooden spoon. Stir and cook until the polenta is really thick and begins to bubble. This should take about 3-5 minutes {3 on my stove, because that sucker cooks hot}.


4. Take the pot off the heat and dump in the Parmesan cheese. If you snack on the cheese in the process, I swear I will not judge you. I have also tried this recipe reducing or omitting the cheese and throwing in some onion powder for flavor, and it actually turns out pretty good that way, too! But who are we kidding, we want reduced fat, not non fat here


5. Pour the whole thing onto a rimmed cookie sheet. If it doesn’t have a rim, you can use tin-foil and roll it on the edges so that the polenta doesn’t spill everywhere. It should be thick enough that it doesn’t go anywhere.

6. Once it’s cooled down, stick it in the fridge. It should stay there about 2 hours to solidify completely.

7. Now let’s make the sauce.


8. Yeah, baby, we’re going to roast up those pretty little termaters! Heat your oven to 400F. Put the tomatoes on another rimmed pan, along with the two cloves of garlic. You don’t have two rimmed pans? Again, tin-foil or aluminum foil is your friend. Anyway, drizzle them with olive oil and throw on some salt and pepper and let ‘em cook for 30-40 minutes.

9. When the tomatoes have shriveled and are beginning to brown, throw everything into a food processor or high-speed blender {I use my Kitchenaid blender} and puree the whole batch. Throw in some salt and pepper while you’re at it.

10. Pour the sauce into small cups, like these cute ramekins we found at Crate & Barrell:


I absolutely love this sauce. I made a bigger batch of it and stuck it in the fridge for use with my mustard panko chicken, which I’ll share with you at some point, I promise. It’s too good not to!

12. Get the polenta back out – it should’ve been two hours by now, right? Anyway, cut it up into thin strips – don’t go French fry thin because the polenta will flake, but half-inch strips should be just fine.

13. Heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, and shallow fry the fries, small batch by small batch. Turn them so that all the sides get cooked. And wouldn’t you know, but I have a Kitchenaid skillet that works just great for that. Yay, Costco!


14. When the fries are golden brown, drain them on a paper-towel lined plate and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Keep frying until they’re all done.

15. Serve them up with fresh tomato sauce for dipping.


I love polenta in a big way, and on those days where I’m looking for some nice hearty steak fries, this will do in a pinch as a non-starchy high-nutrient substitute! Try it out and let me know what you think!

So that’s this week’s recipe! I’ve got some fun stuff brewing up in the test kitchen to share with you soon, like a curried acorn squash soup that definitely satisfies a lot of my fall cravings, and there are some other staples coming up, like my homemade kalua pork. Oh, and that mustard panko chicken. To die for. You’ll see!

What are you cooking up these days? Share!


Recipe: Polenta “Fries” with Roasted Tomato Sauce

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