Thursday, April 11, 2013

Making Polenta Croutons

Earlier this year I wrote about a meal I had at a local restaurant. During that meal I was able to share a Caesar Salad with my husband. Why was that possible? Because they used Polenta Croutons.

Under normal circumstances Caesar Salad in a no-go for me – the croutons are so often mixed right in that it’s not worth the risk to try to order without croutons. But at the Artist’s Palate, their salad is always gluten-free. Woo-hoo!

Since that meal, it’s been on my list to make my own Polenta Croutons. From my trials thus far I have decided that a recipe for Polenta Croutons is more about the method than the ingredients – short of the recipes that add cheese there is little to no variation in ingredients in the recipes I have found.

My technique isn’t perfect yet (in other words, I still think the croutons at the Artist’s Palate are better) – but these croutons were quite good with my chili last night.

Polenta Croutons

1 cup cornmeal
3 cups water
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp chopped basil (optional)
½ tsp chopped parsley (optional)

Combine the cornmeal, pepper, olive oil and 1 cup of water. Stir together well.

This step ensures that you won’t have clumps of cornmeal in your polenta.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Slowly stir in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low. Cover, but leave vented. Stir every 5-10 minutes for 45 minutes, until thick and smooth.

Transfer to a food processor or high speed blender. Add the optional spices. Blend until very smooth. This step provides a smooth paste. If you prefer your croutons crunchy, skip this step.

Spread the polenta onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate for an hour until set.

Flip the parchment onto another sheet and peel back.

Cut the croutons into slices and arrange with space between them. Bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes, flipping halfway to brown on all sides.

Throw them on your soup, salad, stew, or pasta.

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