Polenta Fries

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Polenta Fries are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside for the ultimate healthy side dish. Made simply with polenta, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning, you won’t be able to get enough of this mouth-watering dish!

147 CALORIES19g CARBS5g FAT5g PROTEIN
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These Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops made with lean pork tenderloin coated in a delicious crispy Panko and Parmesan breading are baked and come out delicious every time. Serve them with some Parmesan Garlic Roasted Cauliflower or Cripsy Baked Broccoli for a healthy, flavor packed dinner.

The Leftover Conundrum: I feel like this could be the title of my life story. It is, after all, something I feel like I'm faced with fairly regularly. Take this recipe, for example. Whenever I feel in the mood for a cheesy, baked piece of protein, I reach for a pounded chicken breast. However, as my life story would indicate, last week I was looking for a way to use up some leftover (uncooked) pork chops.

And, you know, as sometimes recipe ideas do, an idea came to me immediately (sometimes it takes longer — a lot longer): I thought that a crust of Parmesan, Panko breadcrumbs, and herbs would be the perfect solution for turning these leftover chops into something mouth wateringly delicious.

Luckily, (because I was also short on time), this dish is relatively simple to make and can be baked in the oven or lightly fried in a skillet with a hint of olive oil. For low-carb dieters, you could substitute in some almond flour for the Panko or just use all Parmesan cheese instead.

Parmesan pork chops with a crispy breading on a plate with salad on the side.

How do you make Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops?

Once my pork chops are thawed (if they've been in the freezer), and I'm ready to get working on dinner, I preheat the oven to 400 degrees. I combine my Parmesan, Panko, and spices in a shallow bowl, then whisk my egg whites in another shallow bowl and set those aside on my workspace.

I take the pork chops and put them on a plate or dish, so that they are all flat with one side facing up so I can season them with salt and pepper on both sides. In a kind of assembly line, I line up the seasoned pork chops, followed by the egg whites and then the breadcrumb mixture. I take one pork chop at a time, dip it in the egg whites, then into the breadcrumbs, making sure to get both sides coated well. Then each pork chop goes onto a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

I pop those in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until they are fully cooked all the way through and the crust starts to brown.

Sides to serve with Parmesan Pork Chops

  • Pair these pork chops with a simple green salad and some lemon wedges — no need for a heavy dressing.
  • Roasted veggies are always a great idea — add your favorites to a sheet pan with a little olive oil, salt and pepper or use an Italian seasoning as well. Roast right next to your pork chops. You can even use the same sheet pan!
  • Some zucchini or other veggie noodles would be delicious alongside your pork and make the meal quite filling, yet super healthy.
  • Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes are a fan-favorite in my family. You can hardly tell you're eating a veggie instead of a starchy potato.
  • Israeli Chopped Salad is a quick-and-easy way to use up veggies begging to be eaten in your refrigerator. Plus, tomatoes are in season now and make this salad quite healthy and refreshing.
  • Roasted sweet potatoes are just what the doctor (chef?) ordered. Full of beta-carotene, and with a low glycemic index and cancer-fighting abilities, sweet potatoes are quite the super spud and should make an appearance as a side quite often, I think.
  • If you're hankering for a carby side, try some Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese. Baked in the oven, a small portion goes a long way and will satisfy your need to nosh.

Pork chops with Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs with lemon slices and a salad.

What makes these Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops healthy?

  • Lean, boneless center-cut pork chops are lower in fat and calories than other cuts of pork chops. They are a good source of lean protein, the building blocks of your muscular system. Baking them instead of frying them also makes them healthier and less caloric and fattening.
  • Egg whites are a high-protein, low-calorie, low-fat food. They also make a great base for making your breadcrumb coating stick to your meat without the use of milk, whole eggs, or flour.
  • Parmesan cheese is another great source of protein, calcium, and fat. Parmesan is also lower in fat and calories than a lot of other cheeses and the calcium it contains is good for your bones. It's also easier to digest than some softer cheeses and contains some probiotics.
  • Panko bread crumbs are a healthier alternative to regular breadcrumbs. They are lighter and airier too, which I find to make for a nice texture when breading and baking these pork chops. They are low in calories, fat, and sodium while still containing plenty of fiber to keep you feeling fuller, longer.
  • Spices such as Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper are a great way to add tons of flavor to your dishes without adding any extra calories or fat.
  • Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that is thought to reduce your risk of stroke. It also is a good source of flavonoids, which can help to ward off cancer and keep your heart healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about this healthy side dish recipe:

Polenta is a nutritious gluten-free grain that makes for a delicious source of antioxidants. Compared to regular french fries, polenta fries are lower in carbohydrates, sodium, and calories, making them an excellent healthier substitute.

Fried polenta has a mild corn flavor that is similar to grits or cornbread. One of the great things about polenta is how easily it can adapt to the flavors of whatever it’s paired with. Therefore, these fries are incredibly easy to season to suit your preferences.

Polenta fries can be seasoned in all sorts of ways. I typically go with the classic Italian seasoning, but you could really use whatever seasoning you like. For spicier fries, try sprinkling some red pepper flakes over them. For a cheesier flavor, bake them under a thin layer of gooey mozzarella cheese.

Oven baked polenta fries with crispy browned edges on a baking sheet with ketchup.
The Recipe
Polenta fries baked with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning served with ketchup on the side.

Polenta Fries

PREP TIME: 5 Min
COOK TIME: 30 Min
TOTAL TIME: 35 Min
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Ingredients

USMETRICS
  • 18 oz prepared polenta tube
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

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Instructions

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1

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or cooking spray. Cut the polenta tube into fries. I find the easiest way to do this is to cut into long horizontal sheets, cut in half, and then slice into fries. You can choose the thickness of the fries, thinner fries will cook faster.

Polenta tube being cut into french fries.
2

Toss with the polenta fries with olive oil. The toss with Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, kosher salt, and fresh pepper.

Polenta french fries being tossed with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.
3

Place in one layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping after 15 minutes until nice and crispy. If needed you can broil them at the end to help crisp them up.

Baked polenta fries on a white baking sheet with parchment paper.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 4.5 oz.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 147
Calories from Fat 47
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
8%
Saturated Fat 2g
8%
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 5mg
2%
Sodium 501mg
22%
Total Carbohydrate 19g
6%
Dietary Fiber 2g
6%
Sugars 1g
Protein 5g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

Notes

Optional: 1-2 tbsp. seasoning – Cajun, Greek, Italian, etc.
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About the authorMeet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
1 Comment
On Polenta Fries
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Sheila
March 30, 2022 - 07:34
I wonder if you could make this in an air fryer?
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