Feb 11, 2014
Hillary

Polenta Vegetable Pie

Polenta Pie 1

 

Every other weekend we have Saturday night Pizza Night! Jor makes his homemade pizza, which just gets better and better and it’s our one night of the week that we camp out on the coach to eat dinner. I’m pretty sure we say every Saturday that this is one of the best pizzas yet, and that’s after 8 years of Saturday pizzas! Saturdays are also my long run days so a giant piece of bread with lots of fresh veggies always sounds good! I decided this past weekend that I would do a play on pizza night and swapped out the dough for polenta. I’ve made this a few times and it’s quickly become one of my favorite meals. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve grown up in the south but polenta topped with anything is delicious to me! Even better, it’s so simple to put together and you end up with leftovers. You can think of this pizza like a Chicago deep dish. When you get your first look as it comes out of the oven your stomach is talking a big game! But you’ll eat one piece and become defeated! It’s ok though, more to share with others or more for yourself later!

Here’s what you need.

Ingredients: 

(Adapted from the New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Makes 1 10-inch pie and serves 4.)

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups course cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • a little olive oil

Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup small red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • small handful of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon herb de provence
  • fresh black pepper
  • 1/4 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 medium tomato sliced

The first step is putting together the polenta crust. In a small bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, and cold water.

Polenta and Cold Water

 

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and pour in the polenta and cold water mixture. Lower the heat to medium low and whisk the polenta constantly for about 10 minutes. The mixture will get very thick and and if the temperature is too high or you stop whisking, it will start to bubble and “spit” at you.  If you leave it alone for too long it gets an attitude so just be sure to give it attention until it thickens up. Once thick, let the polenta sit for a few minutes.

Polenta Cooked

While the polenta cools, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a 10-inch pie pan with a light layer of cooking spray and pour in the polenta mixture. You can use a spatula or wet hands to evenly spread out the polenta. You want to evenly spread it over the bottom and also up the sides of the pie dish, as you would a normal pie. Brush the surface with a little bit of olive oil.

Polenta Pre-Baked

 

Bake the polenta pie crust for 45 minutes. While the crust is baking chop all of the vegetables. When the crust has about 10 minutes left to bake, heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large sauté pan and first add the onions. Let the onions cook for 5-6 minutes, until translucent, and then add the pepper and zucchini  and sauté until the vegetables are just tender. You don’t want to overcook them so that they become limp and lose all their flavor. Add in the garlic, sun dried tomatoes and herbs and sauté for just a minute more. (Keep the sliced tomato to the side. You’ll add it directly, uncooked to the crust.)

Vegetables

 

Remove the pie crust from the oven and turn the oven temperature up to a broil. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella cheese (1/2 the cheese) onto the bottom of the baked polenta crust. On top of the cheese, add the tomatoes to make a single layer. Pour the vegetables over the tomatoes and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Polenta Pie Pre-Baked

 

Put the pie back in the oven and let it broil for five minutes. Everything is already cooked at this point so you just want to give the cheese some time to melt.

Polenta Pie 2

 

In just a few minutes, your polenta pie is ready to eat! It will seem impossible to find the perfect spot to cut through the pie but you just have to go for it. Just like a typical pizza, you’ll have to work your way through the crust and then the inside will still be soft. I was nervous the first time that I made this that the polenta on the bottom would be too wet but it turned out perfectly! The polenta is definitely capable of supporting the cheese and veggies on top.

Polenta Pie 3

 

I like to serve this with a side salad and the past two times I’ve gone for a kale salad to round out the meal. A quarter slice of this polenta pie with a salad makes for a filling dinner.

Polenta Pie 4

 

I will be the first to say that I certainly don’t mean for this to replace the typical pizza! Being the huge bread fan that I am, polenta cannot completely replace my love of bread. But, this polenta pie is certainly a great alternative for those nights where you might have a taste for pizza but don’t have the time to put the pizza dough together. Feel free to change up or add in different vegetables like mushrooms or yellow squash and if you have fresh basil on hand I’d definitely add that. This time of year, it’s sometimes a toss up whether I can find fresh basil in the store. In just about an hour you can have this polenta pie done and ready to eat and about 40 minutes of that time is the pie doing its own thing in the oven. That makes this a great weekend or even weeknight dinner. I’m also able to get two, sometimes even three lunches out of this and the leftovers are just as good cold as they are warm. The polenta pie that just keeps giving! For now, that’s polenta vegetable pie…in the shell of a nut!

3 Comments

  • This is really interesting! I’ve never seen polenta used like this. I’ll try it out at some point.

    • This is one of my new favorite ways to eat polenta! You’ll have to let me know how you like it. Enjoy!

  • YUM!! This looks delicious and healthy, especially for those who want /need an alternative to eating gluten but still want to enjoy pizza. Thanks for sharing another great recipe!

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