Polenta is an Italian dish made from cornmeal and water. Although, in ancient times, it was made using many other grains like yellow maize, buckwheat, chestnut flour, chickpea flour, white maize and their mixtures.
Although a staple to Italy, Swiss and Balkan, this food item is widely adopted in American cuisine also.
Cooking a coarse grind will give a creamy and coarse texture. Whereas cooking a fine grind gives a smooth, creamy texture. Polenta looks just like porridge, or instead, it is a type of porridge itself. There are many ways to consume Polenta. Because of its remarkable adaptability, people go for baked, grilled, or fried options as well.
Mashed potatoes, grits and semolina flour are the best-cumulated substitutes for Polenta. You can use them as a side dish or make them your main dish.
For frying, baking, grilling or just boiling, whatever you opt for, make sure that the substitute you’re using has the same potential as Polenta.
We mean by this that if you’re going to bake and choose plain flour as an alternative, it will ruin your dish.
Because Polenta absorbs some amount of moisture, giving the baked item a moist texture. While plain flour is anti-absorbent to humidity, it will simply denser your dish.
Grits and Polenta are like siblings. While polenta is made from yellow corn, grits are made of white corn.
When you boil, both give almost the same results after cooking. Grits are more squashy and gooey while polenta still gives you a semi-solid bite.
Based on the dish you’re looking for, you can replace polenta with grits. However, if you want to have a little solidity in your dish, don’t go for grits.
Mashed Potatoes have almost the same consistency and features. However, you should consider that mashed potatoes take a longer time to cook than polenta.
So, if you’re going for a dish like creamy spinach polenta, you can use mashed potatoes as a substitute. However, ensure the cooking time taken by mashed potatoes.
Semolina flour can also be replaced by polenta and gives pretty much the same result, except it is not as yellow as polenta.
While baking cakes, semolina can be a go-to option as polenta can give a gritty texture while semolina gives a smooth, moist texture.
However, it is always advisable to check the recipe before replacing it, as semolina is not a good option for various polenta recipes.
As we got to know a few best substitutes for polenta, let’s look at some of the misconceptions people usually carry.