Pizza is the ultimate comfort food, and this pizza delivers! The herbed polenta crust is topped with easy-to-make sauce, as well as onions, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, and rosemary. Now you can have your pizza and feel good, too!
I hesitate to say that this pizza is “easy,” since you need to prepare three recipes: the crust, the sauce, and the toppings. But I have tried to make each of them as easy as possible. The final result is worth the time it takes to make it.
The crust is made from polenta (coarsely ground cornmeal), resulting in a softer crust than traditional wheat-flour crusts. I love fresh rosemary on pizza, so it is used throughout. The three recipes follow, with instructions on putting everything together at the end (I suggest reading this part first).
Feel free to comment below if you made any variations that were especially good; I may add them to the recipe. Thank you!
Polenta Pizza Crust
This recipe makes enough polenta for an approximately 13 by 9-inch baking sheet or glass casserole dish. However, I like using my 14-inch-diameter pizza pan (found at a local drugstore for under $10. Using a metal pan will result in a firmer crust). Since pan sizes will vary, I’ve made sure there is enough polenta for bigger size dishes/pans. (Chill any leftover polenta, and then add it cubed to vegetables, soup, or salad.)
Note: “Polenta” cornmeal is different than regular cornmeal (which is more finely ground). Look for the words “polenta” or “coarse grain” on the cornmeal package. Here is one brand of polenta cornmeal.
2¼ cups water
½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon granulated onion
¾ cup coarse-grind (polenta) cornmeal
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1. Combine the water, non-dairy milk, and granulated onion in a medium saucepan. Bring to just about boiling over medium-high heat. Gradually add in the cornmeal, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent clumping. As soon as you start adding the cornmeal, turn heat to the lowest setting, and cook covered for 20 minutes, stirring two or three times throughout. Stir in the rosemary at the very end. While the polenta is cooking, you can make the sauce (or you can also make the sauce ahead of time, to allow the flavors time to mingle).
2. Scrape about half of the cooked polenta into your pan (it will be very thick and sticky), adding more as you go to reach a thickness of about a quarter inch, spreading it evenly with your fingers, and pressing it up the sides of the pan for a more deep-dish effect. If it’s too hot to handle, let it cool for a couple minutes; you may also use dish gloves or a large piece of parchment paper to avoid sticky fingers as you are pressing it, or wet your fingers a couple times throughout. For my 14-inch pizza pan, I use about ¾ of the polenta. For a thicker crust or bigger pan, use more. Set aside.
Preparation: 10 minutes (plus 10 minutes to press cooked polenta into pan)
Cooking: 20 minutes (stove-top)
Makes: 1 crust (14-inch diameter round), 6 pieces (or 13×9-inch baking dish/sheet)
Easy Pizza Sauce
I don’t like using half cans of tomato paste, so this may make more than you need; but just use any leftover sauce on a second pizza, as ketchup, in spaghetti sauce, or atop a baked potato. Make the sauce while the polenta is cooking, or make it ahead of time to allow the flavors to more thoroughly mingle.
¾ cup water
2 medjool or 4 deglet dates, pitted and chopped
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Place the water and dates into a blender and soak for at least 20 minutes (to soften). Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
Preparation: 20 minutes (including soak time)
Makes: about 1 cup (enough for 2 pizzas)
Vegetables for Pizza Topping
The vegetables for the topping are first briefly cooked on the stovetop (otherwise they get dried out in the oven and don’t cook as thoroughly). Any vegetables may be used, really, but I’ve chosen those that are traditional in veggie pizzas. I usually cook the vegetables while the crust/sauce is pre-baking (see below).
½ large yellow onion, chopped (I like sweet yellow onions)
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
6 medium cremini or white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 medium tomato, diced or thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons walnuts, to grate on top, after baking (optional)
1. Prepare and chop all your ingredients before you begin. Heat a large skillet on high. When a water droplet sizzles on its surface, add the onion and cook stirring for about 2 minutes. Add a little water only if needed to prevent sticking; this will make the onions more flavorful.
2. Add the zucchini and mushrooms, and continue cooking and stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, adding water as needed. Stir in the garlic and rosemary just before removing from the heat. Leave the tomatoes out; they will be added just before baking the pizza.
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 5 minutes
Makes: enough toppings for 1 pizza
Putting the Pizza Together
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, and position the cooking rack in the middle. Spread about half the sauce on the polenta crust and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. (This is a good time to cook the topping vegetables).
2. Remove the crust from the oven and spoon the cooked pizza toppings evenly over the top, finishing with the tomatoes. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
3. Serve after a minute of cooling. If you like, grate a few walnuts on top (using a rotary cheese grater); this makes a nice garnish in place of cheese. Cooked polenta crust is softer than wheat flour crusts, so this pizza is best eaten with a fork.
Above: I made this pizza in my 14-inch pizza pan with a thinner crust (also pictured in the photo at the top of this post).
Above: The unbaked polenta crust, and topped with sauce, ready for the oven. This time I made the crust a little thicker, more deep-dish.
Above: The baked, thicker-crust pizza. For more ideas on plant-based, oil-free pizza-making, see Mark Sutton’s book, Heart Healthy Pizza.
Above: This pizza can also be made in a 9 by 13-inch, glass casserole dish, which results in a softer crust. For the pizza in this photo, I added more veggies on top, which resulted in more of a pizza casserole.
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