Being a foodie, it is sure to know about Polenta. Many people have shared their curiosity by asking a ton of questions about this food item.
Some of the majorly asked questions included, " What are the best substitutes for Polenta?"
To answer this question and guide you completely about Polenta and related facets with exciting recipes for your dinner, we have mentioned everything here.
Let’s start by knowing what Polenta actually is.
What Is Polenta?
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.
A coarse or fine grind of these grains boiled using water is what polenta is.
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.
There are many recipes for Polenta. Although, we are here to look and learn about its substitutes.
Best Substitutes For Polenta
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.
Before choosing the substitutes, you need to know how Polenta blends with other ingredients.
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.
Thus, let us look at some of the variants that you can use according to the taste of your dish.
How To Use The Best Substitutes Of Polenta?
The best options when you have no Polenta are:
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.
Are Polenta And Cornflour Same?
This is a very common misconception that people have- Polenta and corn flour are the same.
Many shops and supermarkets have products that mention cornmeal instead of polenta, but cornflour is altogether different.
Interchanging polenta with cornmeal is still understandable as polenta is a coarse ground of dried corn while cornmeal is a much coarser grind of dried corn.
Corn flour is a fine ground of dried corn than polenta and can be replaced by polenta in some recipes; they have different textures.
Using cornflour as a substitute for polenta can just result in disaster.
Instead, cornmeal can replace polenta but won’t give a creamy, smooth texture.
Polenta Vs Couscous
Couscous and polenta are made of different grains and thus can’t be the same.
Couscous is made from durum wheat or glutinous semolina flour and has more protein and vitamins than polenta. If you’re in search of a gluten-free diet, couscous is not the option.
Polenta is made from dried corn and, thus, both have very different textures.
Couscous has a more chapped texture as the granules get apart while cooking. Polenta has a smooth, gooey finish that is much closer to mashed potatoes.
So, couscous and polenta are obviously not interchangeable as both result in different textures and properties.
Polenta Vs Masa Harina
Masa Harina is a variant of cornflour, and as we saw earlier, cornflour and polenta are not the same.
Even though Masa Harina can be replaced in some recipes with polenta, it has a citrusy flavour.
So, if you’re using Masa Harina in place of Polenta, do check what your recipe exactly calls for.
Top Easy Polenta Recipes For Dinner
Now that we know so much polenta and its substitutes let us dig up into some of the popular dishes that can be made for dinner.
Starting from a traditional way of cooking polenta:
Take four measures of water and one measure of polenta and boil it.
You can also use vegetable broth or chicken broth to make it more delicious.
Stir the polenta continuously until you get a thick mixture.
Add 1 tbsp butter and parmesan cheese and mix it well.
Once you get the desired consistency, add a pinch of salt and pepper and dig in!!
Creamy Spinach Polenta
Another most loved polenta recipe is creamy spinach polenta.
How to make:
Boil milk and broth by adding a pinch of salt to it.
Add Polenta and stir until thickens.
Cover the lid and cook it for another 20 minutes while constantly stirring every 5 minutes.
Take out of the gas stove and add spinach and cheese. Wait until spinach wilts and cheese melts.
Adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Dig in!!
A tasty substitute for your potato fries is polenta fries.
Take cornmeal, butter, milk and chicken broth in a saucepan and cook them until you get the desired consistency.
Sprinkle parsley, cheese, salt and pepper to get a good flavour.
Once cooked, let it cool down and spread over a baking sheet.
Divide the mix into small fries.
Dunk them in hot oil and wait until they get crispy and golden brown. Bon Appetit!
Very delicious food to go for polenta casseroles! An overnight prep is required for this dish. A long wait for a delicious dish!
Saute sausage, onions, thyme and garlic for 5 minutes over medium-low heat in a saucepan.
In another saucepan, heat milk, polenta, and salt, constantly stir for 7 minutes and then take it off the stove.
Next, add cheeses of your preference and let them melt.
Mix everything and add salt and pepper.
Add the sauteed mixture into the polenta mixture and assemble everything.
Transfer it into a baking tray by covering it with foil paper and pop it into the refrigerator. Let the mixture sit overnight.
In the morning, bake it for 25 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s done!!!
A new variant to make yummy pasta is using polenta. Tasty, healthy, non-glutinous pasta now is just a recipe away!
How to make:
Mix polenta along with flour by adding olive oil and eggs in a large bowl.
Get all the ingredients together and start kneading the dough for five minutes. Let it rest for 30 minutes, and then start rolling the dough.
Cut the dough into pasta shapes of your choice. You’ll have little wet noodles.
Dry them until you cook.
Take boiling water with some salt and add the noodles to it.
Don’t overcook the pasta as fresh dough pasta takes less time to cook than the store-bought ones.
Once cooked, immediately drain the water.
Add sauce of your preference and mix it. Enjoy!!
Italian style beef ragu with cheese
Another most-loved polenta recipe is here. Follow the instructions properly to get the best out of it.
How to make:
Make polenta as per the instructions given on the package.
After cooking it, add 1/3 cup of cheese and cream cheese.
Saute beef, garlic, onions until the meat loses its pink colour.
Remove the beef mix off the stove and transfer it to a plate.
Get the beef again on the pan after discarding excess fat.
Add rosemary, oregano, red cayenne pepper and salt.
Stir the mixture for 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes on low heat.
Serve the polenta in a bowl and top the beef mixture on it.
Garnish with basil leaves and grated cheese. Dig in!!
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