Instant polenta is a great pantry staple, especially for anyone following a gluten-free diet. Here are some easy ways to enjoy this versatile ingredient.
1. Polenta chips
Prepare polenta following packet directions then pour into a baking pan. Cover and refrigerate to set. This may take up to 6 hours so overnight is a good option. Once set, cut slab in 2cm-thick chips. Chargrill or pan-fry chips with a little oil spray.
2. Polenta ‘mash’
Bring 3 cups water with 1 cup liquid salt-reduced vegetable stock to the boil then whisk in 1 cup polenta and reduce the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until polenta thickens. Once thick, stir in 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and some fresh parsley for extra flavour.
3. Orange polenta biscuits
Preheat oven to 180°C. Spray a baking tray with oil. Beat 75g reduced-fat spread, zest of 1 orange and 1/3 cup sifted icing sugar until just combined. Stir in 3 tablespoons polenta and 1/2 cup sifted flour. Place 10 x spoonfuls of mixture onto tray and flatten into small rounds. Bake for 15 minutes.
4. Gluten-free fritters
Mix vegetables such as grated courgettes, peas or corn kernels through prepared polenta (see 2). Fry tablespoonfuls of mixture in a frying pan sprayed with a little oil.
5. Polenta pizza base
For a gluten-free pizza base, prepare polenta (see 2), adding 1 tablespoon olive oil with parmesan cheese and replacing parsley with pepper. Cool for 5 minutes. Spread polenta onto greaseproof baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until firm. Top with your choice of pizza ingredients then bake for another 15-20 minutes until ingredients are cooked and heated through.
6. Vege polenta tart
Prepare polenta (see 2), adding oregano and thyme instead of parsley. Set aside to cool. Pour polenta into a lined tart tin and spread evenly. Top with your choice of roasted vegetables and a little grated reduced-fat cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Herby polenta-coated snapper
Add chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, thyme and lemon zest to uncooked polenta. Coat snapper with the mixture on both sides. Pan-fry with a little oil spray or bake until golden.
8. Pesto polenta
Prepare polenta (see 2). When adding parmesan cheese, also add 4 tablespoons pesto and 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil instead of parsley. Serve with grilled chicken breast and vegetables.
9. Polenta pancakes
Combine 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup polenta, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup low-fat plain yoghurt, 2 eggs and 1/4 cup water. Whisk liquid mixture into dry ingredients. Cook batter in a frying pan sprayed with a little oil. Serve pancakes with berries and a dollop of low-fat plain yoghurt.
10. Polenta ‘sandwiches’
Slice chilled prepared polenta (see 1) in 8cm x 8cm squares and pan-fry both sides in a little oil spray until light brown. Place your choice of filling on a polenta square and top with a second square. Bake for 7-8 minutes.