Sunday, March 28, 2010

What if Polenta and Panelle had a child?

Okay weird title but you get the idea. This is something that I made up so it doesn’t have name. Surprised? I thought not. This is one of those things that comes from area 51 (what my husband calls my kitchen) when I have time to think. For whatever reason I was thinking of both polenta and panelle yesterday and it finally occurred to me that they were so similar there was no reason I couldn’t combine them into one recipe. So that is what I did. The idea was to use this to deliver condiments, nut cheese, pesto, that sort of thing. I made two versions one baked and one dehydrated and here is what I did.

Panelle and Polenta Hybrid
Makes 24


1 cup of garbanzo bean flour (or dried garbanzos you turn into flour with your Vitamix, which is what I did)
1 cup of polenta
6 cups cold water
2 tablespoons hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon gray salt
Black pepper to taste


Combine the bean flour, polenta and water and whisk to thoroughly combine. Then add the remaining ingredients and turn on the heat and cook over low heat, stirring very often until the mixture is thick and you can see ribbons when you stir. This will take a while, in the neighborhood of 30 minutes, depending on the heat level and pan you use. When the mixture has cooked you can pour it into a pan to be baked or dehydrated.

If you are going to bake do so at 250 degrees until the mixture is firm to the touch. This happened at 2 ½ hours in my oven, at which time I flipped it over to firm the other side. The second side cooked for another 30 minutes. I intially spread the mixture to a thickness of about ½ inch on silicone to make it easier to flip and it worked fine. Use a spatula to loosen the bottom as it will still be moist. If any of it sticks you can use a knife to return it the mixture and spread it flat.

I dehydrated the second version on 105 degrees. After 10 hours it was still wet on the bottom. Additionally I am not happy with the way the surface cracked. I expected the dehydrated version to be more visually appealing, but it is not. Next time I will bake the entire recipe.

Nutritional information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 37.09
Calories From Fat (8%) - 2.96

Total Fat - 0.34g
Saturated Fat - 0.03g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 101.2mg
Potassium - 36.1mg
Total Carbohydrates - 6.87g
Fiber - 0.8g
Sugar - 0.45g
Protein - 1.38g


This combination worked really well. I am pleased with the taste and the texture. Even my omni parents liked this so I would call it omni approved. Dan and I like the lime flavor and the little bit of heat that these have. This is going to be something that I make again, and often. It will be nice to have an alternative to the flax crackers. The texture of this is much softer, more like bread than a cracker.

I topped this with lemony pine nut and macadamia ricotta and a sun dried tomato and golden raisin pesto (recipe to follow). This makes a great little addition to a salad or soup. I hope you give this a try.

Unrelated note:

Today was another long day at our house. The gray weather set the tone for the day. We were both a little blah. On the bright side the new issue of Vegetarian Times is still waiting to be read. The magazine is something for me to look forward to this evening while I relax.

I am going to try to get the tomato pesto recipe posted this evening. Dan gave it too thumbs up and since he never does that I want to get that up for you all. If you like food with a lot of flavor punch you will enjoy the latest pesto. On that note I am off to write the pesto post. I hope to be back later today if not, I will get it up for you in the morning. I hope you all have had a great weekend.


  1. What a cool idea...I've never made any crackers before, but since you have several cracker recipes up now I should really give them a try...crackers in the store usually have something in them that either isn't vegan or isn't healthy or both!

  2. Ok I am a dork, what are wet hots? I keep hearing it, but I have no idea...This looks so good and I can make it, I have all the inredients too!!! Could you make an olive pesto??? I have never had pesto..did I hear you gasp? lol
    This looks delicious Alicia, like all of your food!!
    I am having a hard time typing tonight, I hit my left knuckle on the side of my food processor blade and the bandage is inhibiting me!!! Grrrr!!! : )

  3. Rose,

    Thanks! The texture of these is closer to a firm polenta than a cracker but it is sturdy enough to hold toppings. It makes a great vehicle for delivering condiments (my favorite things).

    I agree about the "stuff" in store bought crackers. Scares me to think what that is doing inside us. I don't like being a science project to chemical companies.

    talk to you soon,

  4. Brandi,

    I think wet hots is a east coast name. I will put a link in to the recipe so you can see what they are. In essence they are hot pickled peppers that are finely diced. Around here they are used on cold cut sandwiches. Does that help?

    You heard the gasp in Kansas? Wow, good ears. I do also make olive pesto. That was the other option tonight that I didn't make. I can put one up tomorrow if you are interested.

    Sorry to hear about your hand. I cut myself often too. It is never fun. Nice to know I am not the only one. ;-)

    hope you had a good weekend,

  5. I would love you forever if ou posted an olive pesto!!! I ahve always wanted to try it! I am an olive fanatic and like almost every olive, especially the teeny tiny ones!!! Can't wait to see if I can get some wet hots!!

    Lately I am constantly getting biffed in the kitchen...ahhh!

  6. Brandi,

    I made a note to make an olive pesto tomorrow morning. I am an olive fiend too (anything salty really). There should be time to whip one up before things great crazy here.

    talk to you later,

  7. Great idea. Definitely giving this one a shot. Sounds like you could top with a host of different things. YUM.

  8. Heather,

    You can use this anyway you would use firm polenta. I agree the toppings are endless. I love that is is half bean so that it has more protein. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  9. wow, that is such an interesting invention!! i love it, and i'm definitely trying it out.

  10. Vixen,

    Thanks! I was sort of proud of myself for this one. They taste good and can be used as you would firm polenta. Next I am going to try making it more like straight polenta and see what that does to the texture.


  11. I think if Polenta and Panelle had a child, it would be a girl and they would name her Polentelle or Panellenta. :-)

    I agree that most store-bought crackers are full of dreadful ingredients (to think I used to eat Cheeze-Its and Goldfish Crackers by the crate practically!) The only exceptions I know of are Mary's Gone and the vegan varieties of Dr. Krackers (Seeded Spelt's our fave). But cripes, you 'bout have to take out a loan to buy them! Your homemade crackers are a great idea, Ali!

  12. Lalo,

    I thought you might like these. Dan thinks they are excellent. He wants them in the permanent rotation. High praise indeed. I am going to play around with them a little, but they are really tasty just like this.

    talk to you soon,

  13. Hmmmm... what did I do wrong? I followed the directions as written, except for omitting the wet hots. It took almost and hour for the mixture to thicken and that was after turning up the heat to just below medium. I poured the mixture (which reminded me of grits) into a large shallow pan lined with Silpat and put it into a 250 degree oven for 2 hours. The top was looking crusty so I flipped it into another pan and scraped the soft bottom from the Silpat. I turned up the oven to 325 and cooked it for another hour, but the middle just wasn't getting felt like a pillow! I peeled off the top in pieces, opening it all up and putting some into another pan, then cooked it at 350 for at least 30 minutes more, until my patience ran out. The cooked parts are sort of rubbery (with crispy edges) and there are still some mushy parts. I'm disappointed because yours sounded/looked so good.

  14. Laura,

    I am so sorry it didn't work for you, but I have some ideas. First, I bake mine on parchment so the "dough" is more in contact with the hot metal. The bottom of mine was a little damp when I flipped it but not much. Second, either my oven could be hot or yours may be running cool. It sounds like they aren't cooking as quickly in your oven. Do you have a convection setting on your oven, that would also help. Third, when I make a full batch in the oven I spread it over a half sheet pan (11.5" by 16.5" at the bottom). The mixture is about 1/2 inch thick in the pan.

    It should look like grits when you pour it into the pan. How long the mixture takes to cook in the pan will depend on how high your burner was and what type of pan you used. I generally cook on my high output burner and in enamaled cast iron and both things would speed up the cooking process though I don't know by how much.

    Did any of that help?

  15. Thanks for your clarifications. I used a slightly smaller pan and did use the convection setting on my oven. I'll try a larger pan (or divide it into two) and parchment paper next time. Did you cook your second batch (with the different proportion of garbanzo and polenta) at 350 convection? I'd like to try that so that I don't have the oven on for so long. But the convection seems to increase the changes of getting the "pillow effect", if you know what I mean--firm exterior and soft interior.

    I got back into the kitchen and made your bean dip (with red beans instead of black), your spring rolls with asian walnut sauce, and some creamy vegetable soup. They all seemed to turn out well, thank goodness! Just waiting for hubby to get home to try them out.

  16. Laura,

    I don't remember if I used the convection setting for the second batch sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. I try not to use it since I know not everyone has a convection oven. But since I didn't post that recipe with details there is a good chance I did use the convection setting because it reduces cooking time. Sorry I couldn't be more help on that one.

    I am happy to hear the other things turned out well. I hope your hubby approves too. ;-)

    talk to you later,


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