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Polenta Pizzas

Polenta Pizzas

Among the many gluten-free people I meet, almost all say they miss pizza more than any other food. Keep it wrapped and refrigerated, and bake it when you make your topping of choice.

If you’re short on time, brown-rice tortillas make a great last-minute pizza crust.

Adapted from “Clean Start” by Terry Walters.

Click here to see Spa-Inspired Dinner Party.


For the pizza crust:

  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups polenta
  • Cornmeal, for dusting

For the kale and mushroom topping:

  • 1 large leek, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 maitake, or hen-of-the-woods, mushrooms
  • 1 bunch kale, finely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup pasta sauce

For the chard and parsley pesto topping:

  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup Parsley Walnut Pesto


For the pizza crust:

Over high heat, bring stock to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add salt, basil, oregano, parsley, pepper, and olive oil. Whisking continuously, pour in polenta and continue whisking for 5-7 minutes until smooth and thick. Pour into two 11-inch tart pans and spread evenly over the bottom of each pan. Cool slightly and then refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place pizza stone or baking sheet on middle rack. Remove polenta from refrigerator, sprinkle pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal, transfer polenta to stone or baking sheet and bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

For the kale and mushroom topping:

Place a large skillet over medium heat and sauté leek in 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil for 3 minutes. Add mirin and sauté 2 minutes longer. Crumble maitake mushrooms, add to pan, and sauté 5 minutes or until soft. Fold in kale and sauté 3 minutes longer. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Once the topping is ready, spread the pasta sauce evenly over the crust, leaving a ½-inch edge. Top with kale or chard mixture and return to oven to bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cut with pizza wheel and serve.

For the chard and parsley pesto topping:

Sauté onion and garlic in oil until soft, following the directions for the kale topping. Add chard, sauté 1 minute, remove from heat, and season to taste. To assemble the pizza, spread the pesto evenly over the crust, and then follow the directions above.

Polenta Pizzas

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These polenta pizzas work equally well as a great appetizer or main course and are dead easy to make to boot! You just need some precooked polenta tubes, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and walnuts (and whatever other toppings you’d like to add to the mix). Simply slice up the polenta tube into rounds, lay them out on a baking pan, pile on the toppings, and bake. The caramelized red onions mixed with the sun-dried tomatoes add a subtle sweet flavor and the walnuts add texture and some bitterness.

Dolcelatte and salami polenta pizza

I used coarse polenta for this, which requires a much longer cooking time than the “instant”. Either would be suitable for this recipe. I find stirring coarse polenta for half an hour or longer rather soothing.

Serves 2
water 750ml
polenta bramata (coarse) 120g
butter or olive oil a little

For the topping:
mozzarella 125g
dolcelatte 125g
salami Milano 60g, finely sliced
thyme leaves 1 tsp

Pour the water into a deep pan and bring to the boil. Salt the water then rain in the polenta. Keep the heat moderately high and stir almost constantly for a good half hour. Make sure you protect your hands and arms – the molten polenta tends to erupt furiously. (If you can’t wait use the instant version below.) Let the polenta thicken to a porridge-like consistency.

Place a piece of baking parchment, measuring at least 24 x 32cm on a metal baking sheet then lightly butter or oil it. Pour the polenta on to the paper, pushing it into a rectangle about 28 x 18cm, and set aside until firm. Set the oven at 240C/gas mark 9. When the polenta is firm, brush lightly with melted butter or oil, then bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly crisp. Remove and set aside.

Break the mozzarella and dolcelatte into small pieces. Scatter the cheese over the surface of the cornmeal polenta, then tuck the slices of salami among them. Scatter with thyme leaves, season with coarse black pepper, then bake for 15 minutes or so, until the cheese has melted. Scoop up any cheese that oozes over the edges and serve.

Courgette, taleggio, polenta and basil pizza. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for The Observer


Mix goat cheese, basil and thyme in small bowl until well blended. Set aside

Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and bell pepper cook and stir 8 minutes or until peppers are tender. Remove from heat keep warm

Cut polenta into 24 (1/4-inch) thick slices. Place slices on large baking sheet coated with no stick cooking spray. Broil 5 to 7 minutes per side. Spread herbed cheese mixture on each polenta slice. Top with mushrooms and peppers. Serve warm

Polenta Pizza with Sausage, Radicchio, and Onions

Serves 4-6
Difficulty Intermediate
Time 1 hour and 10 minutes + 3 hours for leavening


For the dough
10 oz. corn flour
7 oz. Manitoba flour
5 oz. all-purpose flour
2 oz. fresh brewer’s yeast
extra-virgin olive oil

For the dressing
12 oz. sausage
3 oz. mozzarella for the pizza
2 radicchio
1 red onion
tomato purée
extra-virgin olive oil

For the dough
Dissolve 5 tsp. salt and yeast with 1-2 Tbsp. water separately. Blend the flours with the melted yeast and salt, 2 cups water and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil until the dough is elastic and smooth. Use your hands to knead it gently into a ball and let rise for 2 hours in a container covered with plastic wrap.

Divide the dough into 4 parts, roll each one into balls with circular movements on the kitchen table, sprinkle with flour, and leave to rise at room temperature for at least 1 hour, covered with plastic wrap.

Put extra-virgin olive oil in pizza pans (11” wide) and spread the dough balls evenly with your hands until they are 0.19” wide. Leave to rise for another 10 minutes.

For the dressing
Remove the sausage from the casing, slice into 1” cubes, and brown for 1-2 minutes with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Clean the onion, crush and brown it for 2-3 minutes with a drizzle of extra- virgin olive oil in the same pan used for the sausage. Slice each radicchio into 8 parts, and sprinkle with grated mozzarella.

Pour a cup of tomato purée over the pizza, then add the mozzarella, radicchio, onion, and sausage.

Pre-heat oven to 400°F, bake for 18-20 minutes.

Recipes Davide Brovelli
Photography Riccardo Lettieri
Styling Bettina Casanova

Weekend Project: Polenta Pizza Crust

Pizza doesn’t have to be off the menu if you’re living gluten free. You can mimic the taste and texture of a traditional crust with our Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix , or for something entirely different, try this pizza crust made from polenta. There’s no need to wait for the crust to rise, as with yeast-risen wheat-flour bases, and it’s a surprising dish to serve to company. The crust won’t be firm enough to pick but, but eaten with a fork, it has a wonderfully satisfying texture and flavor. Add your favorite toppings as you like, or scroll down for one of our favorite recipes, a take on the traditional Margherita.

Polenta Pizza Crust

1 1/3 cups (7 oz./220 g.) gluten-free medium-grind cornmeal

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed

In a microwave-safe bowl, mix 4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l.) water, the cornmeal, and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt. Place in the microwave and cook at the high setting for 5 minutes. Stir thoroughly, then return to the microwave and cook at the high setting for 5 more minutes. Stir well. Return to the microwave and cook at the high setting until very thick, about 5 minutes longer. Stir again, and then mix in the 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and a generous amount of pepper.

Brush a large pizza pan generously with olive oil. (Do not line the pan with parchment, or the crust will not gain the desired texture.) Spread the cornmeal mixture out on the pan in a circle about 1/3 inch (9 mm.) thick and about 12 inches (30 cm.) in diameter, building up the edges slightly.

To bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spread tomato sauce, if using, over the cornmeal crust, leaving a border, then layer on the desired toppings. Bake the pizza until it is beginning to brown in spots, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes to set up.

Sprinkle the top of the finished pizza with chopped fresh herbs, if desired, then cut into wedges and serve right away.

Polenta Pizza with Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs

Gooey cheese melting into baked polenta — crisp on the outside with a creamy interior — is as satisfying as pizza, but is definitely its own creation. For a novel approach, toss baby arugula with olive oil and lemon and mound it on top fontina or mozzarella cheese melted on the finished crust.

1/2 lb. (250 g.) fresh mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated

Polenta Pizza Crust (above)

1 1/3 cups (8 oz./250 g.) halved small cherry or grape tomatoes

2 Tbs. minced shallot or 2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed

1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g.) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup (1/3 oz./10 g.) sliced fresh basil, or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the pizza crust on the pizza pan, leaving a border.

In a small bowl, mix the tomatoes, shallot, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, and the vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the tomato mixture over the cheese. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake the pizza until it is beginning to brown in spots, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes to set up. Sprinkle with the herbs and serve right away with forks and knives for eating. Serves 4.

/>Find more great gluten-free recipes in our new cookbook Weeknight Gluten Free , by Kristine Kidd.

Robin Miller Cooks

I adore pre-cooked polenta! Sold in tubes, ready-to-cook polenta may not look remarkable, but it's incredibly versatile. To prepare it, you simply open the package, slice, cook and serve. And "cooking" the polenta just means something quick, like searing, sauteing, grilling, or baking. Once the polenta is heated up, you can top the rounds with virtually anything - from vegetables, to cheese, to flavorful sauces. And since polenta is made from a simple mix of cornmeal, water and salt, it's naturally vegan and gluten-free. How about THAT for checking major boxes?!

I served these rounds as a side dish with dinner, but they would make a great party appetizer too!

Note: If you don't have an ovenproof skillet, sear the polenta in your favorite skillet and then transfer the rounds to a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet before topping with sauce and cheese.

Cooking spray or olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tube polenta, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds
1/2 cup marinara sauce of choice
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an ovenproof skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add the polenta rounds to the hot pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Top the polenta with the sauce and cheese and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, until the cheese melts.
Serves 4-6

Tubed polenta has a sturdy texture which makes it a great base for canapés. Next time you have company and need easy-to-make appetizers, simply bake slices of polenta before adding your toppings of choice. Some of our favorite options include fresh mozzarella with cherry tomatoes and basil or saut mushrooms with herbs and Parmesan.

Easily bulk up your next casserole or skillet dinner with the addition of tubed polenta. Thinly sliced polenta can make wonderful layers for many recipes, adding a creamy texture and mild taste to any dish. Use it to create an easy weeknight dinner like our Cheesy Polenta Skillet, keep it on hand to replace noodles for a pasta-free lasagna, or put it in a Tex-Mex casserole to add delicious corn flavor. 


In a pot, bring 230 ml (approximately 1 cup) water with 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil. Stir in polenta and generously grate nutmeg directly into the pot. Season with pepper.

Cook polenta over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. When it thickens, stir in sour cream and season to taste. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, rinse tomatoes, wipe dry, halve, remove stems and cut into narrow strips. Cut salami into small cubes. Drain corn well in a sieve. Drain mozzarella.

Spread cooled polenta on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, creating a circle of about 20 cm (approximately 8 inches) in diameter.

Distribute drained corn, tomatoes and diced salami over polenta.

Cut mozzarella into slices and distribute over polenta pizza. Bake in preheated oven at 200°C (fan: 180°C, gas mark 3) (approximately 400°F/convection 350°F) on middle rack until golden brown, about 20 minutes.