Polenta fries with tomato basil aïoli

A nice alternative to deep frying, the corn meal crisps up quite nicely. Replace the corn meal with whole grain teff for quicker, more nutrient dense versions (simmer for only 20 minutes).


For the polenta
1 1/2 cups of boiling water
1/2t of coarse sea salt
1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal
2T of unsweetened soy milk
2T of olive oil (or coconut oil, if you prefer)
1T of garlic, minced
1/4t of dried ground turmeric
2T of nutritional yeast
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the aïoli

1/4 cup of unsweetened soy milk
1t of lemon juice
1T of sesame seed butter
1T of garlic, minced
1T of fresh basil, minced
2t of tomato passata (or pureed tomatoes if that’s what you have)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste


Make the polenta first, then the aïoli.

Bring the water and sea salt to a soft boil in a pan with a lid.
Add the corn meal slowly, stirring as you go.
Reduce heat to low and cook for roughly 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking.
The polenta will be done when it’s quite thick and pulling away from the sides of the pan.
Add the nutritional yeast, garlic, turmeric, soy milk and any additional seasonings.
Stir thoroughly to combine.
Let stand five minutes to cool.
Spoon the polenta into a lightly oiled (or nonstick) 3″x9″ baking dish, and smooth the top with a spoon.
Let cool for about 30 minutes uncovered in the refrigerator to setup.
Preheat the oven to 450F.
Carefully turn out the polenta, cut into twelve slices.
Generously oil a cookie sheet and sprinkle with a little corn meal.
Add the polenta and bake turning every 8-10 minutes or so for about 30-40 minutes — until the fries start to lightly brown and the outside is lightly crisp, Ovens vary. Use the texture and colour as a guide.
Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, and serve with the aïoli.

While the polenta bakes, make the aïoli.
Blend the soy milk, sesame seed butter, lemon juice and garlic in a high speed blender with a pinch of sea salt (I used an immersion blender).
Next, slowly add the oil in a dribble while blending so that it will emulsify correctly.
Mince the basil and add it to the aïoli, stirring to combine.
Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to let the flavours mingle.
Add the passate in drips when ready to serve.

Peanut sauce, salsa and other dips do well this dish. The aïoli also makes a nice spread for sandwiches and other uses. For a creamier fry, blend the polenta for a minute in a high speed blender once it’s cooled and before putting it into the baking dish.

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