Baked polenta fries are mixed with manchego cheese to be a delicious, crispy appetizer.
Check out these polenta fries. But not just ANY polenta fries, but baked polenta manchego fries. I mean… who wouldn’t want to put a candle in the middle of a stack of fries? Exactly. In case you’re wondering, manchego is a Spanish cheese made of sheep’s milk and it is quite possibly my favorite cheese ever. I’m mostly dairy-free due to a casein intolerance but I’ve found in the last 6 months or so that I can tolerate goat and sheep’s milk cheeses (but cow’s milk is still iffy for me). You won’t really get an ooey gooey kind of cheesiness from using manchego but it does give the baked polenta fries a really great cheesy flavor.
I used baked polenta as croutons for my cranberry pork polenta stuffing and found myself eating the polenta croutons straight out of the oven. That made me realize that they would make amazing fries! And did they ever! I went for a kind of pizza vibe with these and seasoned the polenta with dried thyme before baking. Then, I served it with marinara for the the perfect dipping sauce. An aioli or even ketchup if that’s your sort of thing (I hate ketchup, sorry) would be great, too! These baked polenta manchego fries would be a great side with dinner or served as an appetizer for a party. Can you say Super Bowl appetizer status? I think so!
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup instant polenta (I used Colavita)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground thyme
- ½ cup shredded manchego cheese
- 1 tbsp oil (olive oil or avocado oil)
- marinara sauce, for serving
- Bring water to boil in a high sided pot. Slowly add polenta to the pot and stir constantly until the polenta and water are mixed. Lower the heat to medium-low.
- Add salt and ground thyme to the pot. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes, or until polenta starts pulling away from the pot.
- Stir in the manchego cheese until melted.
- Pour into a 8x8 inch baking dish (sprayed with cooking spray), spread with a wet or oil covered spatula, and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.
- Once the polenta has cooled and set, cut into 4 inch x ½ inch rectangles.
- Preheat oven to 450F. Brush or toss the polenta fries with oil. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, turning once, until golden and crisp. Drain on a paper towel lined plate.
- Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.