The Polenta Pizza
I kind of pulled a fast one on you guys last week in the poll. I pulled such a fast one, in fact, that it even fooled me. You see, I listed polenta pizza and gluten-free pizza in the poll, but guess what? Polenta pizza is gluten-free. It’s just corn after all so there’s no gluten to be had there!
After I got to thinking about it, it might actually be the easiest way to make gluten-free pizza. You don’t need half a dozen special flours or anything. All you need is freakin’ ground up corn. And cheese. It is pizza after all.
The Polenta Pizza
Yield: Serves 4.
1 cup coarse polenta
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large bunch Swiss or rainbow chard, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 Serrano pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
2-3 ounces Asiago cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper
Extra olive oil for drizzling
1) I like to start this recipe by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper and then drizzling it lightly with olive oil. The parchment paper isn't essential, but if you don't use it, make sure to oil your sheet well.
2) Bring water and milk to a slight simmer over medium heat with the salt. Whisk in the polenta and continue to stir until thick. Turn heat down to low and cook for 10-15 minutes until polenta is very thick.
3) Stir 1 tablespoon of olive oil into polenta.
4) Spread polenta out onto prepared baking sheet and spread it over the surface of the pan. It should be 1/3-1/2 inch thick ideally. You don't want it too thin. It probably won't make it all the way to the edges of the sheet and that's fine.
5) Let polenta chill for at least 45 minutes.
6) Meanwhile, in a large skillet, add a drizzle of oil and onions. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat until soft. Then add pepper, garlic, and season with salt and pepper.
7) Roughly chop chard and rinse well, then add to skillet. Cook until chard is wilted, about five minutes. STir regularly to prevent burning of the garlic. Once the chard is wilted down, remove from heat.
8) Remove polenta from fridge and preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake polenta with nothing on it for 20 minutes to crisp it up.
9) Remove polenta, drizzle with olive oil and distribute mozz cheese evenly over the surface.
10) Then add on your chard and crumbled asiago (or manchego) cheese.
11) Add pizza back to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. The edges should be lightly browned and crispy and cheese should be melted.
12) Slice and serve immediately! You probably won't be able to actually pick up a slice. It's a fork-style pizza.
Making the Crust
I was obviously a bit worried about the crust step for this pizza idea even though I’ve kind of done it before. This version turned out way better than the earlier version though. The toppings worked a lot better and the crust crisped up nicely which I liked.
Step one is obviously making polenta. There’s nothing hard about this. Just bring the water, milk, and salt to a slight simmer over medium heat and then whisk in the polenta.
Continue to stir this over medium heat until it start to really thicken. You’ll have to stir it for about 10 minutes or so until it’s nice and thick.
Then I recommend seasoning it well with salt and pepper and stirring in some olive oil. The olive oil will help the crust get crispy and also prevent sticking later.
Grab a large baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. The parchment paper is optional, but trust me, it will make clean-up a lot easier.
Whether or not you use parchment paper, give your baking surface a good drizzle of olive oil and then spread out your polenta over the surface. You want it to be about 1/3-1/2 inch thick all over. My was actually a bit on the THIN side I think.
Stick this whole pan in the fridge for about 45-60 minutes which will make the polenta firm up and turn solid.
Now you’re ready to bake it!
The Clean Bake
You need to bake the polenta with nothing on it for 20 minutes to draw out some of the liquid. So preheat your oven to about 425 degrees Fahrenheit and let it bake for 20 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, we can work on the filling. I used some beautiful rainbow chard, but you could use swiss chard or just spinach. You need about 8 ounces of greens.
Add some olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat and add the diced onion. Cook until the onion is soft, about five minutes. Then add the minced garlic and pepper. After that cooks for a few seconds, add in all your chopped chard.
I recommend chopping the chard roughly and cutting out the thickest parts of the stems. You could leave them in if you wanted a bit more texture though.
Add the chard and cook it until it wilts down. Season this all with salt and pepper.
Finishing the Pizza
After the pizza crust has baked for 20 minutes, remove it from the oven and drizzle it with a small amount of olive oil. You don’t want pools of oil here, just a little moisture. Then top with your grated cheese.
To be honest, I think I used a bit too much cheese. I used 8 ounces of grated cheese and I think 5-6 ounces would have been plenty.
Then spread your chard topping over the surface and sprinkle on your crumbled asiago cheese. You could also use manchego or any semi-hard cheese with lots of flavor.
Add this back to the oven and bake for another 10-12 minutes.
It’s done when the cheese is melted, the crust is slightly browned around the edges and the chard is starting to get crispy in some parts.
Let this cool a bit before slicing it.
If you slice the pieces small enough you can actually pick them up like real pizza, but personally, I just ate my pieces with a fork.
It was really good fork pizza.
One downside of this pizza (possibly the only downside) is that it isn’t great cold. You can reheat pieces in the oven though to keep the crust a bit crispy or microwave them if you’re in a rush.
Anybody else made polenta pizza before? I thought it was great and pretty easy!