Oh Polenta, where have you been all my life?
I am not sure what it is about polenta that I love so much but I am very happy that I’ve discovered it. It’s not so amazing that I would declare it the best food I’ve ever had or anything drastic like that, it’s just simple, delicious, and the possibilities of what to do with it seem to be endless.
The first time I ever had polenta was at Hyde Park Bar and Grill a few years ago. It was deep fried and amazing and Ross and I loved it. Since I had never even heard of polenta until that night I had always been a little too intimidated by it to try and make it at home. As you all know I finally got over that fear last week when I made some simple grilled polenta. Seriously, it was wonderful and left me wanting to make it again soon.
I’m sure there are a lot of people who have no idea what polenta is, so let me fill you in a bit. Polenta is cornmeal mixed with water and cooked. How simple it that? Sounds almost too simple and possibly not good, right? Well, whole wheat pasta is just flour and water and it’s pretty good, and polenta is kind of the same in that way. When I made polenta last time I went with the pre-cooked store bought variety and it was very easy to work with and tasty, too. You literally just slice and cook.
I have been hesitant to cook new recipes lately because I’m really working on cooking through the boat loads of food in my pantry before buying anything new. Lucky for me I just happened to have some cornmeal in my pantry leftover from some cornbread I made a few months ago.
When I make a recipe that is inspired by someone else’s recipe I like to give credit to who gave me the idea. This one was inspired by one of my favorite blogs, Daily Garnish (and I believe she got the idea from the cookbook Clean Food). It’s pretty simple and really the only thing I used from her recipe was the idea for polenta pizza and how much cornmeal I would need to make the crust. From there I made it into my own creation. You should still check out the original recipe here though, and see how hers turned out! Also check out how pretty her blog is! She’s been doing this for years though so I try not to compare myself to her too much.
Polenta Pizza – serves 2
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 ¼ cups water
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 recipe tofu “feta” (recipe below) OR Daiya mozzarella shreds to top pizza
- Other pizza toppings of your choice
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and bring the water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan.
- Mix the cornmeal, salt, pepper, and garlic powder together and pour slowly into the boiling water.
- Whisk quickly and constantly as you pour and continue until the polenta starts to look more like dough and is kind of sticky.
- Remove from heat and scoop the polenta into a sprayed spring form pan (a pie pan would work too, but a spring form pan allows you to remove the sides of the pan and cut it like a pizza).
- Spread the polenta to the edges of the pan, making it a little taller near the edges so it resembles a pizza crust.
- Drizzle the olive oil on the polenta and spread around with a spoon. This will allow the crust to get crispy when baked.
- Pop it in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. While it’s baking you can make the tofu “feta” and prepare the rest of your toppings. I used sliced tomatoes, a little make-shift pizza sauce (optional, more or less, recipe below), diced red onion, tofu feta, and diced sun dried tomatoes.
- After the polenta crust has baked for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and top with your desired toppings, ending with the cheese of your choice. I had a little tofu left over after topping my pizza and I spread it on a few tomato slices for a little snack. Yum!
- Return pizza to the oven and allow to bake an additional 30 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes before removing the sides of the spring form pan. Cut and serve!
- ½ of a 14 ounce block of firm tofu
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Juice of 1 lemon (fresh lemon juice really makes a difference in any recipe)
- 1 tbsp various Italian spices – dried basil, oregano, a pre-mixed Italian spice blend, etc.
- Salt to taste
- Slice the full block of tofu in half; put one half in a storage container with the liquid and back in the fridge.
- Slice the other half into 4 equal slices and lay them flat on a dish towel. Cover with another dish towel and place several heavy books on top to press out some of the water. Remove after 3-4 minutes.
- Tear tofu into chunks and add to a bowl with all other ingredients. Mix with a fork, breaking the tofu so it has the consistency of feta cheese and all the ingredients are mixed up. Taste and add more salt as desired (I may or may not have eaten a few forkfuls of the tofu mixture at this point).
Make-shift Pizza Sauce
- 1/3 of a cup of jarred pasta sauce
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- Pinch of salt
- A few pinches of various Italian spices – dried basil, oregano, a pre-mixed Italian spice blend, etc.
Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir. Add more spices as needed by taste.
First I spread the sauce on, then put down a full layer of sliced roma tomatoes, sprinkled on some red onion, added my tofu feta mix, and then added my sun-dried tomatoes. Next time I’ll let them re-hydrate in some water before adding them to the pizza. Still good though!
This pizza did not disappoint me and I ended up eating over half of the pizza myself! I started with three slices, Ross had two, and Meghan had one, so there were just two slices left.
I waited approximately 45 seconds after finishing my first three slices before going back to get a fourth. Then I thought, “How well is this going to reheat? I should just eat that last slice while it’s fresh, just to be safe.”
So I ended up eating 5/8 of the pizza. Luckily it’s healthy pizza, so I really didn’t feel that bad.
Of course no dinner is complete without dessert, right? So I helped myself to three of the oatmeal cookies I made this weekend. They’re healthy too!
I can resist buying junk food and dessert type foods at the store but once it’s inside my house I have zero willpower. That’s why I don’t bake very often (though you can’t tell from my blog posts lately); I feel obligated to eat everything I make! I ended up sending the rest of these cookies to work with Ross the next day so they would be out of my house. Now that they’re gone I’m considering making a loaf of pumpkin raisin bread! I know that I shouldn’t but the recipe just sounds too good, and I love pumpkin! : )