A few years ago, I traveled to help prepare meals with Jane Stanchich for a week long workshop with her and Lino Stanchich at Great Life Global. One of the mornings, we made polenta pancakes similar to these. It was such a fun idea and a perfect example of using whole foods to re-create something we love as a healthier version. I especially love when I can replace flour with something less refined and still satisfy a craving, such as the one I frequently have for more traditional pancakes.
I don’t have Jane’s recipe, so I re-created these “pancakes”, adding some sweetener and cinnamon to the polenta as I made it. The compote is my addition and adds a lovely touch of sweetness and color.
Serve these with any toppings you traditionally use for pancakes. They are super easy to make with leftover polenta, just add the extra flavorings and pour into a shallow pan to be cut into pancake shapes in the morning. Instead of the apple pear compote, you can also serve them with sweet vegetable jam, strawberry rhubarb sauce or fresh berries and brown rice syrup. These flavored brown rice syrups made by Suzanne’s Specialties are pretty yummy!
4 cups water
1 cup polenta
2 pinches sea salt
1 Tbsp maple syrup or brown rice syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp vanilla
light flavored oil (optional)
Apple Pear Compote
1 tsp light flavored oil
1 cooking apple (I used Braeburn), 1/4′ dice
1 ripe pear, 1/4″ dice
a pinch of sea salt
maple syrup or brown rice syrup
1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Add sea salt. In a steady stream, slowly pour polenta into the water, whisking continuously to prevent clumping. Stir frequently to prevent sticking on bottom. Polenta will be done at about 15-20 minutes cooking time and will get very thick.
2. Remove from heat and add the maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla. Pour onto a large shallow baking sheet or two smaller ones. Spread about 1/4″ thick and smooth the top with an offset spatula or other utensil so the top is smooth and even. The polenta may not fill the baking sheet completely, so just do your best approximate of 1/4″ thick. Set aside and let cool until firm.
3. Heat a medium size skillet and add the oil. When oil is moderately hot, add the apple and a pinch of sea salt. Sautè for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the pear and sautè until the apple starts getting soft. Add maple syrup and cinnamon to taste. Continue to cook for a few more minutes to allow the sugars to caramelize a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. As soon as the polenta is firm, use a circular glass or cookie cutter to cut circles out of it. I made mine about 3″ in diameter and was able to get about 13 circles. You can immediately place these on plates and serve topped with the compote. Or you can proceed to the next step.
5. An alternative method is to place the polenta circles on an oiled cookie sheet. Lightly oil the tops of the polenta. Place in a 350° oven until heated through. Then serve topped with the compote or your preferred toppings.
You can gather the odds and ends of polenta and cook them with extra water the next day to make a regular breakfast porridge. Break it up with a spoon as it cooks to get it nice and creamy again.