Garlic and olive polenta fries

June 27, 2014

Polenta always seemed mysterious and confusing to me until I started cooking with it. Then I realised it was the perfect combination of everything that is awesome and delicious about potatoes and pasta, but in one incredible foodstuff.

Polenta does need some help in the flavour department though, whether it's a ton of butter or loads of chopped herbs, it's a great vehicle for flavours and can be coaxed into a thick, creamy mashed potato consistency or set, chopped then fried or baked as i've done with this recipe.

Ingredients: This made enough for two of us as a side to our Feta Turkey Burgers (recipe soon!)

1 cup of dry polenta
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup green olives- use the ones in oil for...
a decent drizzle of herbed olive oil (from the olives!) or regular olive oil
Salt and pepper


You want to cook everything in the same pan so you don't loose any of the flavours. As such, the best pan to use is a medium sized, deep saute pan or a largish saucepan. You want a decent surface area to fry the garlic, but deep enough to contain the expanding polenta when it is cooking.

Finely chop the garlic and olives then fry the garlic in a little of the olive oil until it's started to colour ever so slightly. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the chopped olives. You don't want to fry the olives really, just heat them through so that they release their flavour and soften.

Pour the polenta into the pan whilst it is off the heat and stir into the garlic and olives so that the grains get a good coating of everything.

Cover the polenta with boiling water so that it's completely submerged with about half an inch of water over the top of it.  Put the pan on a medium high heat and let the polenta bubble for a couple of minutes, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for another 15 minutes.

The texture will start out very grainy, like really wet cous cous, as it cooks it will become thicker and more like mashed potato. To ensure that the polenta sets, so you can cut it into chips/fries, you want to cook it until it's very thick and smooth.

When it reaches the right consistency take the pan off the heat and glug in a good tablespoon or two of olive oil (preferably the herbed oil the olives came in), season with salt and pepper and mix in well.

Pour, or blob more likely, the polenta into a dish to set. Leave aside to cool or pop in the fridge if you want to cool it quicker.

Chop into fries, your preference on how fat, skinny, long or short you want them. I tend to go for a medium fat fry as they hold together better when baked.

Grease a baking sheet REALLY WELL. When I've used baking parchment some of the fries still stuck, so a double team effort of a non stick-pan and serious pan greasing is in order.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at about 350F for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Serve up as a side or as an appetiser with something like parmesan aioli or spicy tomato relish!

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