You may remember that a couple of weeks back my polenta pizza was featured on In Jennie’s Kitchen as a guest post. As I wrote in that post, the first time I made this dish I made it as a thin-crust pizza (the polenta serving as the crust) for dinner and it was absolutely fabulous. So good, in fact, that a few days later I decided to scrap the original appetizer I had planned to serve alongside the Fontina-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Dates and turn the polenta pizza into an appetizer. The only real change I made to the original recipe to turn it into an appetizer was to double the quantities and bake it in the same size dish (11×15) so that the “crust” was thicker and more substantial, which made it easier to pick up and eat. I think I could have served nothing else other than an unlimited supply of the dates and this polenta pizza, and no one may have noticed that a meal hadn’t been served. This was another huge hit, which may actually be an understatement.
The best part of this recipe is that you can completely adapt it to your taste or to complement the rest of the food that you’re serving. Pile on your favorite toppings, add a thin layer of pizza or marinara sauce, use fresh basil, tomatoes and mozzarella for a caprese-style pizza – the possibilities are absolutely endless. Eat it as a main dish or cut into smaller servings for an appetizer. Enjoy!
I have really been enjoying experimenting with polenta in new and different ways, like with the Vanilla and Brown Sugar Breakfast Polenta. Do you have a favorite polenta recipe? Please share!
Polenta Pizza with Spinach, Mushrooms, Bacon & Tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for pan
½ cup whole milk
2½ cups water
1 cup coarse cornmeal
Freshly ground black pepper
5 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1 roma tomato, sliced
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1. Brush a layer of olive oil on a pizza pan or cookie sheet. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk, water and a large pinch of salt. Bring just about to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and add cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking all the while to prevent lumps from forming. Turn heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until thick, 10 or 15 minutes. If mixture becomes too thick, whisk in a bit more water; you want a consistency approaching thick oatmeal.
2. Stir 1 tablespoon oil into cooked cornmeal (polenta). Spoon it onto 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, cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and put it in refrigerator until it is firm, an hour or more (you can refrigerate polenta overnight if you prefer).
3. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Put polenta in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it begins to brown and crisp on edges. Meanwhile, put one tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have released all of their moisture, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to take the mushrooms out of pan; set aside. Add spinach to skillet and sauté until it releases its water and pan becomes dry; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Take polenta out of oven, sprinkle with fontina cheese, then spread spinach evenly on top of cheese and top with mushrooms, bacon and sliced tomato. Put pizza back in oven for two minutes, or until cheese begins to melt and the toppings are warmed through. Cut into slices and serve hot or at room temperature. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.