Appetizers,  Gluten-free,  Sides

Polenta Fries

I just had one of the best weekends since I’ve been here in Atlanta!  It didn’t have anything to do with where I went or what I ate, but simply because my baby girl came “home” to visit!

It’s been a few months since I saw Gina when she flew up for a weekend in May while Adam and I were staying in Buckhead.  This time it felt more “family” and real as she began to decorate her room and helped me in hanging some pictures around the house.  While we did get out exploring, shopping and dining, the moments spent smiling and laughing together were those I cherish most.  Even the banter between my kids, they are so different in so many ways, had in the past drove me crazy, now felt so comforting.  Either it’s that they are getting older or the relocation and distance has caused a change of attitude as I noticed a certain softening between them.  Just enough to make me very happy 🙂

Sunday evening we stayed in to watch the Olympics.  We had a busy, long day running around so we just wanted simple and easy finger foods.  Sadly my grill stopped working somewhere along the way between packing, two months of storage and the final move so we roasted chicken wings, which actually has always been fine for me and I decided to make polenta fries.  I started these early in the day to questionable glances, followed by uncertain inquiries as to whether they would like them.

Gina is always up to trying anything new and after Adam made sure they were healthy, he was good to go.  Polenta (yellow cornmeal) is a staple pantry item for me.  I keep fine and coarse grind.  I’ll use the fine for baking and making creamy polenta.  For firm polenta that is chilled, cut and baked or sauted, I prefer the coarse grind as it holds up better.

For the fries I kept the ingredients very simple.  Polenta, water and romano cheese.  The only oil I used was to coat the baking sheet and drizzle on the top of the “fries”.  Using a garlic infused oil will add a touch more flavor.

I know I have a winner when the platter is empty.  the fries had a nice crispy “crust” and bite very similar to a fried potato.  Marinara was the perfect dipping sauce, homemade or a jarred favorite.  For a different twist, more a fork and plate appetizer, I would combine finely chopped green onion, seeded and diced tomato, fresh basil and ricotta salata and sprinkle it over the fries.

Polenta Fries

1 1/2 cups coarse ground polenta

5 cups water

1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Kosher salt and freshly black pepper or a seasoning mix of granulated garlic, onion and dried oregano

Garlic infused olive oil or plain

To make the polenta, bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan.  When the water comes to a boil, add in about a teaspoon of kosher salt and slowly pour in the polenta whisking as you pour to avoid clumping.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and switch to a wooden spoon.  Allow the polenta to bubble, but not boil, stirring often.  Continue for about 15 minutes until the polenta becomes thick and tender.

Once the polenta is thick, remove from the heat and stir in the Romano cheese.  Pour the polenta into a 13×9 inch baking dish that has been lightly oiled.  Spread the polenta evenly in the dish, let cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm and cold, at least two hours or the day before.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly oil a large baking sheet.  Flip the firm polenta onto a cutting board and cut into “fries”.  Place the fries on the oiled baking sheet, drizzle oil over the tops and sprinkle on the seasonings.  Bake for 20 minutes, turn and bake another 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Serve immediately, using Marinara sauce for dipping.  Serves about 4-6.




I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


  • Charles

    Absolutely beautiful Linda – simple ingredients, easy to prepare, visually impressive… equally satisfying to snack on no doubt – tasty, crispy with a hint of cheese… mmm. I love the look of them! How “strong” were they, structurally? Did they crumble easily or could they withstand a bit of shaking about, I’m just curious!

    Glad you had a nice weekend!

    • spicegirlfla

      Thanks Charles! They held up just like a potato fry would. They did not crumble and when dipped they nicely absorbed the sauce, not in a melting way, but stayed firm. The key is to use the coarse ground polenta. When I’ve used the finer ground they do become softer.

  • Amy @ ElephantEats

    This sounds totally delicious. I keep hoping for leftover polenta so I could make something like this, but alas there are never any leftovers 😉 I think I’ll have to make a batch just to bake up! So glad you got to spend some QT with your lovely fam!

    • spicegirlfla

      I’ve said the same thing Amy, that I was going to use my leftover polenta but it becomes gummy thick after sitting out and then its hard to spread evenly for chilling overnight. It’s just best to start fresh for baking.

  • SallyBR

    Great to see you had such a great weekend… we are also enjoying the Olympic games quite a bit, unfortunately we are forced to tape everything and watch in the evening, so that means less sleep and we are like two zombies most of the day… but, every 4 years it is worth it!

    loved the post, and your photo with the stylish white pants!

    • spicegirlfla

      My son has been catching up on what he misses on his laptop – its so different when we were growing up, you either watched it every night or you missed it! There was no taping or catchin up!! How times have changed! And sometimes its for the better!

      As for the white pants, I was just thinking that when I was in Florida we wore white all year round and now living in a 4 season climate, I better put those white pants away after Labor Day!

  • Judy@Savoring Today

    Now that is a day to savor. I know what you mean about the banter, what once was annoying becomes a welcome sound, filling a home with … family.
    I am intrigued by your polenta fries, it sounds like the texture and flavor I would gravitate to (not sure about my corn-averse hubby), especially like the Romano. YUM!

    • spicegirlfla

      Typically my son does not like corn bread but he did enjoy these! So maybe your hubby will too! As for the banter and family, I guess that’s why grandparents love and enjoy their grandkids so much, they miss all that once drove them crazy!!

  • Geni

    Totally Heavenly! I have never considered polenta fries! So glad Gina came home for a visit and you all got to reconnect. It’s nice to know there is hope for my teenagers in the future to become closer. You always are an inspiration…food and otherwise. Take care and keep the good food coming! 🙂

    • spicegirlfla

      Hi Geni, Yes, there is some hope for your teens!! Takes some time and patience, though I won’t say they are best friends….yet! Thanks for all your kinds words and support, so very appreciated!

  • France @ Beyond The Peel

    I just had some yummy polenta fries at an Italian restaurant in Edmonton while visiting my sister. They were served with aioli and fried rosemary and calabrese sausage. I wanted to duplicate it but didn’t think I could without a deep fryer (we don’t deep fry). Now that I know this works in the oven I can’t wait to try it on my own. Thanks.

    • spicegirlfla

      I don’t cook with a deep fryer and I’m finding I can duplicate many recipes in a hot oven with a drizzle of oil. Not exactly the same taste, but I’ve never been one to like greasy foods either.

  • Kristy

    Now that sounds like the perfect weekend Linda. I just love watching the interaction between the kids. There’s just something so special about it (although I could do without the antagonizing). 😉 I’m so happy you got to spend some good, quality family time all together in your new home. I’m sure that made it feel much more comfortable. I love the new picture of you too – is that your new house? Gorgeous! And these fries look fantastic – I can’t believe they’re not fried! They totally look like a good hearty French fry. 🙂

    • spicegirlfla

      Hi Kristy, We all could do with the antagonizing – not sure if it ever really ends tho!!
      Yes, That is my new front door! The movers were not thrilled with all the steps!

  • Hotly Spiced

    I’ve never made polenta fries. Yours look so perfect. I’m also not sure if we can buy course and fine polenta. I’ve only seen one type of polenta available and I’m guessing it’s the fine variety xx

  • ChgoJohn

    What a great idea, Linda! We’ve always fried, grilled, or baked left-over polenta for other uses. In fact, we oven purposefully make too much just so there’ll be enough for some other dish. Even so, never have we thought to make polenta fries. I can’t wait to give ’em a try.
    I bet it felt great to have everyone under your roof again. 🙂

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