I have had some cornmeal around the house and I was looking for something a little different to do with it besides just make some cornbread or polenta as a side dish. I had done some looking around and came across this recipe at The New York Times’ website for a polenta pizza and it sounded like a pretty good thing to try to was certainly going to be something different. It’s a very easy recipe to make and like any other type of pizza, you can use your imagination and top it with whatever you think might taste great. While this particular recipe calls for pancetta, I actually had some Italian sausage on hand as a leftover and just sliced that up and used it instead.
Polenta Pizza with Pancetta and Spinach
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup milk
1 cup coarse cornmeal
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) chopped pancetta
1 pound spinach, washed, trimmed and dried
1 to 1 1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Brush a layer of olive oil on a pizza pan or cookie sheet. In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine the milk with 2 1/2 cups of water and a large pinch of salt. Bring it just about to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking all the while to prevent lumps from forming. Turn the heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until it is thick, about 10 to 15 minutes. If the mixture becomes to thick, whisk in a bit more water. Ideally, you want the consistency to be approaching thick oatmeal.
Stir 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the cooked cornmeal (polenta). Spoon the polenta onto a prepared pan, working quickly so the polenta does not stiffen. Spread the polenta evenly to a thickness of about 1/2-inch all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap, and put it into the refrigerator until it is firm, about an hour or more, or refrigerate overnight.
Put the polenta in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it begins to brown and crisp on the edges. Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the pancetta is nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to take the onion and pancetta out of the pan; set aside. Add the spinach to the skillet and saute until it releases its water and the pan becomes dry; sprinkle the spinach with salt and lots of pepper.
Take the polenta out of the oven, sprinkle with Gorgonzola, then spread the onion-pancetta mixture and the spinach evenly on top of the cheese; drizzle the pizza with another tablespoon of olive oil. Put the pizza back in the oven for 2 minutes, or until the cheese begins to melt and the pancetta and vegetables are warmed through. Cut the pizza into slices and serve hot or at room temperature.
You can try many variations of this. I did not use the Gorgonzola as I did not have any on hand and simply used mozzarella instead. The recipe recommends using slices of mozzarella with some slices of tomato and some basil to make a margherita pizza. I think you could really put anything on top of it that you like and you can make the whole pizza vegetarian and just use vegetables for toppings. The longer the polenta sits in the refrigerator, the firmer it will get and give you a better base. I would certainly try this one again as it can make a great party alternative for many.
That’s all I have for today. Check back this week as I have several recipes I have tried recently to post, including a new chicken recipe, some braised short ribs, blueberry lemon cakes, blueberry hand pies, some watermelon agua fresca and more. There are lots of good recipes to come so keep checking to see what’s next. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!