I work in the kitchen of a very small school. It is my job to find the food in order to feed the kids on the tight budget that the school has to work with. We focus on both nutrition and the taste of the food. We have talked with the students and the parents to find out what we can do to improve the menu to ensure that the kids are actually eating what they are being served each day. This blog will show you several examples of what you can serve on a budget that is healthy and tasty.
A type of flour that was first used by Native Americans, cornmeal is made from ground sweet corn and is found in a variety of colors, such as white, yellow, or blue. The meal is the main ingredient in foods such as soft tortillas, tortilla chips, tamales, and polenta.
Cornmeal is traditionally and most commonly used to make Southern-style grits, which are served either as a savory dish with salt, pepper, and cheese, or topped with butter and sugar or honey. Another popular meal made with cornmeal is shrimp and grits, which is typically seasoned with Cajun spices.
If you'd like to try making something out-of-the-ordinary with your cornmeal, give these creative ideas a try:
1. Fried Vegetable Batter
Fried vegetables made delicious appetizers and side dishes to a wide variety of meals, and you can use cornmeal to make them extra crispy. Try adding cornmeal to a basic flour-based batter to give the vegetables added crunch and texture.
You can customize the flour and cornmeal batter by adding your favorite seasonings, such as garlic salt, celery salt, Cajun or Italian spice blends, and red pepper flakes. If you want to add some heat, put a few drops of hot sauce in the mix.
Some vegetables that work well when battered and fried include zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, green tomatoes, onions, and even cucumbers. Serve the crispy treats with the dipping sauce, such as ranch, of your choice.
2. Fried Fish Batter
Try using the cornmeal to make fried fish as well. If you prefer a lighter, crunchier coating for your cod, catfish, tilapia or any other type of fish, ditch the greasy beer batters and opt for a cornmeal-based one instead.
3. Pie Crust
Another creative way to use cornmeal is to work it into a traditional flour-based pie crust mix — you won't need to use much to add texture. For example, add just 2 tablespoons of cornmeal to 2 cups of flour, along with the rest of the ingredients.
You can use this crust for regular fruit pies, such as cherry and blueberry, but it will also lend a slightly heartier base to savory pies. As another idea, add cornmeal to a basic quiche crust.
4. Pancake Mix
Not only does cornmeal give traditional pancake batter a more robust texture, it will also give the edges of the breakfast cakes a slight, unexpected crunch. If you prefer a thinner rather than fluffier pancake, consider adding a few tablespoons of cornmeal to the buttermilk mix.