Polenta Croutons
Yield: 4 servings
Tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, these golden bites are simple to make and add staying power and creative appeal to your favorite salads.


Ingredients

  • 16 ounces precooked polenta*
  • 1 tablespoon (14ml) olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt and a few turns of the pepper mill
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • 2 tablespoons (10g) grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425℉, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the polenta log into ¾- to 1-inch cubes. (To avoid wasting any of the polenta, I don’t square off the sides and ends to make perfect cubes. Instead, I cut into ¾- to 1-inch thick round slices and then chop those into mostly uniform pieces. Some will inevitably be more triangular, and some will be squarer. That’s ok—just aim for mostly even thickness.)
  2. Place the cubes in a large bowl, and gently toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, and toss again to evenly coat. Arrange the cubes on the prepared baking sheet so they aren’t touching. Bake for 25 minutes, give or take a few, or until lightly golden and crisp on the outside. Check after 15-20 minutes, and if the bottom sides are sufficiently browned, flip them. If not, there’s no need to stir or flip. (Note: The croutons should still be tender on the inside as opposed to being crunchy throughout. This bit of chewiness is what makes them extra satisfying.)

Notes

*Look for a plastic-wrapped tube or log, much like a fatter version of prepared cookie dough. Some stores have prepared polenta in the organic refrigerated section, but many keep it at room temperature. Also, I occasionally see a larger 24-ounce package. If you find the larger size, you can prepare 1½ times the recipe (for example, 1½ tablespoon olive oil, 3 tablespoons Parmesan, etc.) for a total of 6 servings instead of 4.

If you have leftovers, cool and store in an airtight container. The crisp exterior of these croutons will fade. To “refresh” them, place the croutons in a 325℉ oven for about 10 minutes. They’ll taste as good as new.


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