Polenta is one of those ingredients I forget about. That is, until I have some and then I think, “oh yeah, I love this stuff!”. There are two ways I really like it: one is cooked creamy, like rice or grits (although oddly, I don’t like grits), preferably loaded with some sort of creamy cheese. The other way I love it is when it is set up solid, and then fried so it’s a little crispy on the outside.
To fry polenta, you can make it yourself and then cook it in a pan to set up solid, then cut it into pieces and pan-fry it. Or, if you are rather lazy like me, you can buy it pre-made in a tube! Now, usually food in a tube grosses me out, but this stuff is pretty good, without much in the way of added ingredients. Simply remove it from the tube and slice it up into disks. Fry or bake to your heart’s content or use it in whatever recipe strikes your fancy.
In this case, I was in the mood for pizza. But I’m trying to eat more healthy, and also trying to cut down on gluten-heavy foods since they seem to love my hips (and why wouldn’t they?). So the idea for using polenta disks instead of crust was born. Since I had just broken in my new food processor by making the first batch of pesto out of my garden, I decided on pesto instead of red sauce and with a couple of fresh veggies and stretchy cheese…voila! Pizza in a quickie, fairly healthy, bite-size form. Can I just say, I’m somewhat of a genius?
Mini Polenta Pizzas
1 tube of pre-made polenta
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup basil pesto (store bought or homemade)
Fresh garden or vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
Zucchini, sliced in disks or diced
Mozzarella cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400˚. Slice polenta into disks, about 1/2 inch thick. Lay on a baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake for 10 minutes. Take out of the oven and smear tops with pesto.
Build your pizza with your favorite toppings. We used fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced zucchini and mozzarella cheese.
Pop back into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to brown in spots. Remove from oven and let it sit for just a few minutes. If you eat them when they are really hot, you’ll need a fork. If you wait a little bit you can pick them up. Up to you! One tube of polenta yields about 10 mini pizzas.