Polenta crisps and polenta chips are the modern way to cook polenta, and both are jolly good. The polenta is cooked to a thick mass which is spread out on trays to firm up. It is then cut to shape and fried. I can’t tell you how moreish they are, totally addictive. And when used to scoop up an avocado, yoghurt and lime dip they are even more so.
This is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Plenty More. In the scheme of Ottolenghi recipes, it is relatively easy, just needing time to let the polenta cool. We are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area, but the only change we have made to this recipe is to add some chopped curry leaves into the polenta. You can leave them out if you wish.
Not using polenta very much? Grab that packet from the back of the cupboard; these polenta crisps should do the trick: they’re very easy to make and even easier to eat.
It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Browse our Polenta dishes, our Dips, and our Avocado recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Winter recipes.
Polenta Crisps with Avocado and Yoghurt
750ml light stock or water
160g quick-cook polenta
10g chopped chives
6-8 curry leaves, chopped (optional)
30g parmesan, grated
100g coarse semolina
about 300ml sunflower oil, for frying
sea salt and white pepper
avocado dipping sauce
2 small avocados, flesh scooped out
100g Greek yoghurt
1½ tbsp lime juice
1 tsp grated lime zest
¾ tsp hazelnut oil or olive oil
Put all the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl of a food processor, along with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Blitz to a smooth paste and set aside.
Bring the stock or water to a boil, add the polenta and cook for about 3 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is thick.
Add the chives, curry leaves (if using) and parmesan, stir for 30 seconds, then tip out the mixture onto 2 large chopping boards or trays measuring about 25cm x 40cm. Use a knife or palette knife to spread out the polenta very thinly, but don’t worry if the surface is slightly uneven: ideally, it should be between 1mm and 3mm thick. Leave to set for at least 20 minutes (they are better if left for a couple of hours).
When it is set, use a palette knife or spatula to cut and lift the polenta from the board in odd-sized, roughly 5cm x 7cm pieces. Dip each piece in the semolina, turning so they’re covered on both sides, and set aside. If the polenta pieces prove especially fragile and break up while you’re manoeuvring them, sprinkle with semolina while they’re still on the board, turn gently, then sprinkle again on the other side.
Pour enough oil into a large sauté pan so that it comes 1cm up the sides. Place on medium-high heat and fry the prepared crisps in batches for about five minutes, turning once, until golden-brown on both sides; the edges will crisp up and brown while the centre remains a touch soft and golden in places. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain, sprinkle with a little salt and repeat with the remaining polenta crisps. Serve hot with the dipping sauce on the side.