Thursday, May 29, 2008

Polenta-Quinoa Sticks for Beautiful Bones

Polenta, that Italian soul food, has become one of our family staples since we embarked on our gluten-free lifestyle. We tried and liked the Polenta Fries recipe invented by Gluten-Free Gobsmacked, but wanted a little more texture and nutrition packed into our sticks, so Dan, our resident Slow Food Chef, has been experimenting with a blend of cornmeal and quinoa and now we have a new favorite polenta recipe. The quinoa adds a lot more protein, vitamins and a lovely bit of nubby texture. You can eat your sticks au naturel or topped with roasted vegetables or your favorite sauce.

We've grown to like Polenta Parmigiana, some sticks cooked up on the electric griddle to crusty perfection, then topped with a slice of mozzarella cheese. This is left to melt, about 5 minutes, and then a little marinara sauce is slathered on to cap it all off. Terrific!

Polenta Parmigiana also provides a calcium-rich trifecta with cheese, quinoa and tomatoes, so I am going to submit this recipe for the Beautiful Bones event sponsored by Food Blogga to promote awareness of osteoporosis. While everyone suffers some degree of bone loss as they age, women and people with celiac disease need to take special care to ensure that they have enough calcium in their diets to ward off the potential for developing osteoporosis and bone fractures. I take a daily multi-vitamin with extra calcium and try to ensure that our family's diet includes enough leafy green vegetables, soy and dairy products, whole grains and beans, but it takes some vigilance to keep the nutritional balance going in a busy work and school week.

Be sure to check out Food Blogga's great site and her subsequent roundup of bone-healthy recipes which will be posted after the May 31st deadline for this event.

And now to bone up with a great recipe for:

Polenta-Quinoa Sticks

¾ cup cornmeal
½ cup quinoa
4 cups water
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Put in cornmeal, quinoa, water and salt and pepper in a microwave-safe bowl and stir. Cook at 100% for 7-1/2 minutes. Stir again and cook 7.5 minutes. Your bowl is uncovered throughout the cooking time. (You can also make the polenta-quinoa in a pot on the stove by bringing all ingredients to a boil, then lowering the heat, covering the pot and simmering for 20 minutes, or until quinoa is al dente. Let sit, covered, for ten minutes and then fluff up.)

Cool 5 minutes. Add olive oil and stir to blend well. Put mixture in greased loaf pan. Cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours. You can also leave this for several days if life intervenes and you have to attend to other events (Voice of Experience!) with no ill effects to your eventual sticks.

Invert on cutting board. Cut it into 16 slices (1/2 inch thick).

Spray olive oil on griddle. Heat to High (400 degrees F) and cook and turn until browned and crusty, about 20-30 minutes.

As noted above, we like our sticks alla Parmigiana, with a slice of mozzarella laid on top of the golden sticks. This takes about 5 minutes to melt. Then top with a tomato marinara sauce and you’ve got a tasty, healthy dinner that will pamper your bones!

Serves 6.


Susan from Food Blogga said...

Thank you, Rachel and Dan for a delicious and unique recipe!

You combined two of my all-time favorite grains, made them crispy, and smothered them with cheese and marinara sauce. I think I'm in love.

Hetal said...

This is a wonderful recipe,have never tried before,gr8 entry for the event..

Anonymous said...

Yum, Yum. Looks fantastic! I'll definitely have to try this one. Also a good way to sneak quinoa into the diet...


Anonymous said...

WOW do these look amazing! I've tried quinoa-oatmeal croquettes and have wanted to do a different grain mix. . . these sound perfect. :)

Johanna GGG said...

love the sound of the marriage of these two lovely grains - have the recipe down so I can try them some time

~M said...

These look awesome. I have some Argentine polenta (it's not instant but cooks in minutes due to its grain) and tons of marinara sauce that I'd like to use before my move next month and these look perfect, topped with fontina cheese! I really like the idea of combining cornmeal with quinoa, since corn is a little too high on the glycemic scale. These sticks could probably also be made into flat slabs to use for a polenta lasagna that is more nutritious! Two quick, silly questions though: 1) in this recipe, are you starting with raw quinoa and cooking it in the microwave/stovetop or already cooked quinoa? 2) when you put the sticks on the griddle, are you baking them in the oven, or on the stovetop?

Also, your recent posts of BBQ sauce and cucumber salad look amazing. None of the gf bottle BBQ sauces I've brought home pass my fiancé's test, but I bet homemade will.

Rachel said...

Thanks everyone for your kind comments. These really are good, but I cannot claim credit, as my husband concocted this creation.

M: In answer to your questions, we use raw quinoa that we buy in the bulk bins of our grocery store. It's 99 cents a pound when on sale, so I stock up then and store it in a large sealed container.

Dan cooks them on an electric griddle that we usually use for pancakes, which is a nice big rectangle so you can fit a lot of sticks or cakes on it. I imagine you could also bake these in the oven on a low heat, like say 300 degrees and keep flipping until they are the desired degree of crustiness.

Hope you enjoy making this recipe.


Anonymous said...

I happened across this recipe, and am drooling over what seems like deconstructed mozzarella sticks--the junk food I miss the most since eliminating breading!!!

Thank you.

Paula said...

Oh. My. Gosh! I eat polenta all the time, and quinoa all the time and it never once occurred to me to combine them. This recipe is genius! Thanks so much for posting!

Anonymous said...

I just made some...yum...

I skipped the black pepper and added 1/4 cup chopped Jalapenos and stirred in cheese rather than the olive oil. Thanks for the recipe!