Fridays are for pizza!
One of the fun things about living with someone who has celiac disease is figuring out how to make some normally gluten-filled recipes gluten-free instead. This is definitely a process – not all of my experiments have gone well (apparently, you can’t just directly sub gluten-free all purpose flour for regular flour all the time). One ingredient that has been a blessing for us is polenta – and I think I’m finally mastering the use of it!
Polenta is a gluten-free grain also referred to as corn grits or cornmeal. It can be used in variety of dishes as a starch by adding water and cooking it. You can cook it the microwave very easily. It makes a great stand in for regular pizza crust.
Setting aside the fact that you will likely need to eat your pizza with a fork, polenta has a great texture and stands up well for pizza. We have a Williams-Sonoma cookbook that has a bunch of awesome recipes, including one for polenta pizza. I’ve used the recipe before and gotten better results each time I’ve made it.
This week, I came across a summer pizza recipe from Cooking Classy that I really wanted to try. Featuring peaches, it’s different, lighter, and summer-ready. I made a few modifications – mainly exchanging the regular pizza crust for the gluten-free polenta one, but I also used green onions for a little extra kick in place of garlic, and only used two cheeses. We often modify recipes based on what we can afford and what we have on hand.
Step one was putting together the crust, which can find the Williams Sonoma recipe for here. I added grated Parmesan while cooking it for a little extra flavor. You can also experiment and add in fresh herbs.
Next up was putting together the balsamic-honey reduction to drizzle on top. All it takes is one cup of balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup of honey. Place them in a skillet over medium and cook about 15 minutes to reduce.
Then comes the chopping of the fresh ingredients. I used green onion here – the original recipe uses garlic, and my stomach tends to not appreciate garlic. Please note that I am a dork and completely forgot to use fresh basil as well, although I had planned on it.
Now for shaping the crust – you can use a pizza stone if you have one, or a simple baking sheet. Be sure to spread olive oil on the baking sheet if that’s what you use. Polenta takes a really long time to cool off, so you may want to remove it from the bowl you cooked it in and let it cool down before shaping it. Don’t worry if you don’t get a perfectly round pizza. The goal is to get it spread out to your desired thickness and make some semblance of an edge around the crust.
For toppings, you can add, take away, and tweak whatever you like. I used 2 cups of mozzarella, scattered dollops of ricotta, the peaches, green onion, and black pepper. Toss it in the oven for about 12 minutes at 450 degrees to start – you may want to add time to get a nice brown coating on the cheese.
Once it’s done, sprinkle with chopped fresh basil (or other herbs) and drizzle on the reduction. I was so pleased with how this came out, and am already tossing around ideas for how to tweak it next time we make it.
Recipe: Polenta Pizza with Peaches, Mozzarella, Ricotta, & Balsamic-Honey Reduction(Adapted from Cooking Classy)
- 1 batch of polenta pizza crust (here)
- 2 peaches, sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced green onion
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- about 1 cup ricotta
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- Extra olive oil
Warm oven to 450.
Pour balsamic vinegar and honey into a deep skillet and set over medium heat. Cook for about 15 minutes until reduced to about 1/2 a cup by stirring occasionally during the first 5 minutes and constantly during the last ten minutes. Set aside.
Place polenta crust on an oil-brushed baking sheet or pizza stone. Using the heels of your hands, spread and shape the crust to desired thickness. Pinch edges to create a crust. Brush a very light coating of olive oil on the crust.
Sprinkle mozzarella on crust and scatter dollops of ricotta on top of the mozzarella. Place peach slices on crust, followed by minced green onion.
Cook pizza in oven for about 12 minutes, adding more time until cheese reaches desired golden brown.
Sprinkle pizza with fresh basil and drizzle balsamic-honey reduction on top.