Polenta pizza with basil and buffalo mozzarella

March 23, 2010

Polenta Pizza

Polenta Pizza

My friends have often heard from me how I am always so interested in increasing the variety of foods in my diet. This is true especially of grains. Where I grew up, in the Punjabi heartland, we ate wheat as our staple food and when we said staple, we really meant it. Wheat was eaten three times a day as phulkas, parathas and pooris. It was incorporated in snacks as mathri and in desserts as halwa. Granted there were other grains that we ate some times. I mean nothing could be more Punjabi than saron da saag te makki di roti, and Sunday afternoons were incomplete without rajma chaval (kidney beans with rice). But, all considered, it was really Team Wheat all the way. Anyway, so lately, now that I am the mistress of my kitchen in the true sense, I try to adhere to a mixed grain diet on a regular basis to ensure that we get a spectrum of nutrients and not just certain sub-sections.

One of the grains that I like to use is corn. I am aware that Michael Pollan has pointed out that it is in half of the bulk of the supermarket inventory, but I like it in the form of polenta (which is essentially a savory mush, mostly made from corn meal) as it is whole grail and is not a highly processed form of corn. Also, since I use many other grains in my diet now such as oats, barley, pearl millet, quinoa, shama millet etc., I actually feel good about eating a little bit of maize as well. (There, I defended Zea Mays)

Polenta originates in Italy and the dish that I am telling you about today has been given a doubly hearty Italian flavor by using polenta as a base for Neapolitan style pizza with rich marinara sauce, basil and, the star of the show, buffalo mozzarella. And, as my dear little sis would love to know, this is a gluten-free dish.

Serves 2

Ingredients

For the base:
3/4 cup cornmeal (I use the coarse ground yellow variety)
2 1/2 cup water
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
Some dried herbs like oregano, thyme and/or rosemary (optional)
2 tbsps grated cheese like parmigiano reggiano (optional)

Toppings:
3/4 cup marinara sauce (or any other tomato based sauce. I sometime make some at home but for this time, I used a wild mushroom pasta sauce which was easy and delicious)
4 oz buffalo mozzarella
a handful of fresh basil leaves

Method

Heat water. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add corn meal to it and stir occasionally till it thickens. If you are using dried herbs, add them at this time as well.

You will have to stir more, almost continuously, towards the end. Be careful not to splatter yourself with polenta as it starts to thicken.

Once it becomes a little hard to stir it, it is time to take the polenta off the heat. At this point, stir in the olive oil and grated cheese (if using), and season it will salt and pepper.

Pour the polenta into greased baking pan or an ungreased pyrex dish and spread it out with a spoon so that the top is somewhat even. (A thickness of 1/2 inch is good. I kept this pizza thin because of the delicate toppings. When I am making it with hearty toppings such as onions and green peppers, I keep it a little thicker.)

Pizza base

Pizza base

Keep it to cool and set in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours. I usually make it the night before I need to make it and keep it in the fridge till I use it the next day.

Preheat the oven to 400 F

Spread the marinara sauce thickly on the pizza and spread out the basil leaves and slices of buffalo mozarella on top of the polenta pizza base.

Pizza before it goes into the oven

Pizza before it goes into the oven

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes, till the cheese has softened and the polenta is heated through.

Polenta pizza with basil and buffalo mozzarella

Polenta pizza with basil and buffalo mozzarella

Your delicious polenta pizza is ready to be devoured. You can use the same method to make the pizza for any other toppings of your preference. Enjoy!

7 Responses to “Polenta pizza with basil and buffalo mozzarella”

  1. Anjana said

    Looks so yummy!! I have never tried anything with polenta – tempted to try this one now:)

    • The Intrepid Cook said

      Best part is that you can prepare the base before hand and then it just takes 15 minutes of baking time to have your meal ready.

  2. Anjana said

    haan thats sounds like a neat part in comparison to traditional :)

  3. Neha said

    Looks yummy! You can also try using the pizza stone for making pizzas. It provides even heating to the base – and yields a wood-oven-baked-restaurant-style pizza :-) Additionally, for the marinara, try the one from Whole Foods which is made from san marzano tomatoes. They are one of the most flavorful tomatoes – and go very well with pizza!
    Happy cooking :)

    • The Intrepid Cook said

      I was thinking of getting a pizza stone actually. Definitely for the other traditional pizzas. Last Saturday, I wanted to try a breakfast pizza recipe that sounded really interesting, with eggs and chives and cheese, but decided to wait till I get the stone to make that.

      Also, good tip on the San Marzano tomatoes. I did not know about this. I hope that we are able to try some of the real thing on our trip to Italy in June.

  4. Anjana said

    Made this and totally totally loved it:) This will surely become a frequent item on the Menu. Excited to try out all sorts of variations on the topping. Taste of polenta is amazing. Do you think one can make a similar base with semolina?

    • The Intrepid Cook said

      Yay! That is awesome! I am glad that it turned out good for you Anjana. I would imagine semolina will be similar in texture, but very different in taste. I think it will be something like uttapam pizza. Not a bad thought though… :)

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