Crispy polenta fries with sriracha, black strap molasses catsup

Oil-free polenta fries paired up here with a healthier, spicier alternative to squeeze bottle ketchup.


For the fries
2 cups water
1/2 cup coarse yellow corn meal
1T fresh garlic, minced
2T unsweetened plant milk (I use soy)
1/4t turmeric powder (or to taste, I use 1/2t)
2T nutritional yeast
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the catsup
2T tomato passata (or puree)
1/2t garlic powder
1/4t onion powder
1t black strap molasses
1/2t white picking vinegar
1/2t tamari
1/4t sriracha (or similar/to taste — I use 1/2t)
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: The fries assume the dip. For something more like a traditional fry, add some oil with the turmeric and other ingredients, brush the fries with a little for baking, or both. I usually add 1 – 2t herbes de Provence to my polenta as well. Minced scallion also makes a nice addition. Teff and chickpea fries are also terrific alternatives. Replace the powders in the catsup with finely minced garlic and scallion white if you prefer.


Make the fries and then the catsup.

In a medium pan with a lid, bring the water to a boil. Whisking, slowly add the corn meal to avoid lumps. Return the pan to a light simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 – 40 minutes, stirring periodically. Much depends on the grind of your corn meal and the heat of the pan. The polenta will be done when it’s coming away from the sides when you stir.

When the polenta is done, remove from heat, add the remaining ingredients, cover and let stand another 5 minutes. Season to taste. Pour/spoon in a 3″x9″ loaf pan. Chill uncovered for 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least and hour to setup.

When the polenta has setup, preheat the oven to 450F (or the heat to which your backing paper is rated). Carefully turn out the corn meal onto a cutting board. Slice into stick width-wise (about 16 fries).

On a baking sheet or roasting pan lined with baking paper, bake on the middle rack for 30 – 40 minutes, turning periodically to ensure even cooking. Ovens vary; the fries will be done when they’re crispy and golden. Use the colour and texture of the fries as a guide.

At about the 30 minute mark, mix the ingredients for the catsup. Let stand covered until the fries are ready. When the fries are done, remove from heat, plate, and serve with the catsup on the side.

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