Adapted from cooking.nytimes.com
And so my obsession with polenta continues. At home we often bake polenta into little rounds topped with some tomato purée and cheese. I also just like plain polenta. It never occurred to me to use polenta as pizza “crust.” This was a wonderful discovery and I look forward to trying out different combinations. Even my father, who doesn’t really like polenta all that much, liked this pizza.
Yields 4 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup coarse cornmeal (see Comments below)
- Ground black pepper
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 pound spinach, washed, trimmed and dried
- 1 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 450F (232C). Grease a pizza pan and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk with 2 ½ cups of water and a pinch of slat. Bring just about to a boil, reduce heat to medium and add the cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking all the while to prevent lumps from forming. Turn heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until thick. The consistency should be similar to thick oatmeal. If it becomes too thick, whisk in a bit more water.
- Stir 1 tablespoon of oil into the cooked cornmeal (polenta). Spoon it onto the prepared pan, working quickly so polenta does not stiffen. Spread it evenly to a thickness of about ½ inch all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for about an hour or until it is firm.
- Put the polenta in the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until it begins to brown and crisp on the edges. Meanwhile, put 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onion from the pan and set aside in a bowl or plate. Add the spinach to the skillet and sauté until it releases its water and the pan becomes dry. Sprinkle with lots of pepper.
- Remove the polenta from the oven and sprinkle with the Gorgonzola. Spread the onion and spinach evenly on top of the cheese. Put the pizza back in the oven for two minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and the vegetables are warmed through. Cut into slices and serve hot.
Comments: As in previous recipes, I did not use cornmeal as I have instant polenta from Argentina (Presto Pronta). If using this, you need only follow the instructions on the package: you boil the liquid, turn off the heat and add the polenta in a steady stream while whisking. It makes the job easier but it may not be available to you. When refrigerating the pizza pan with the polenta, you may refrigerate it overnight if you prefer. The original recipe also uses 4 ounces of chopped pancetta, which you cook with the onion. As I have never liked pancetta and am vegetarian, I omitted it. Some other suggestions from the recipe are to top the polenta with thin slices of fresh mozzarella before putting it in the oven, topping it with thinly sliced Roma tomatoes or some tomato sauce and fresh basil leaves. I think, however, that in the future I may just use some of my regular pizza toppings with polenta as the crust.