Polenta pizza is a quick and easy alternative to a traditional pizza crust. Made with fresh polenta or cornmeal porridge, it is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and delicious!
Polenta pizza isn’t a replacement for gluten-free pizza crust, but rather a meal that deserves recognition all on its own. It is, in fact, a variation of farinata, a traditional Italian flatbread. It is softer than pizza and typically eaten with a knife and a fork.
Cornmeal or Polenta?
Polenta and cornmeal can be used interchangeably in this recipe. I’ve used both and enjoyed both. It also doesn’t matter whether you use fine or coarse ground cornmeal.
The main differences are color (bright yellow or cream-colored) and texture (smooth or more coarse). Polenta pizza can also be made using millet, for a corn-free alternative!
The recipe calls for instant cornmeal (or polenta). This will significantly reduce the cooking time. However, if you want to use regular cornmeal then I really recommend fermenting it ahead of time.
Soaked and Fermented Corn
I’m a big proponent of soaking and fermenting grains. It really helps to improve digestibility. This is particularly true with corn. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using instant cornmeal or regular cornmeal, fermenting will shorten the cooking time and increase the nutrient value.
Whenever I decide to serve polenta, I make a double batch and ferment the grain for at least 24 hours. Then I serve polenta as a side dish the first night and turn the leftovers into a polenta pizza crust for dinner the next night.
Here’s everything you need to know about fermenting cornmeal and polenta.
Polenta Pizza toppings
When choosing how to top your polenta pizza, either go for simple toppings that allow the polenta to shine. Or serve it with rich flavorful sauces.
Here are some suggested toppings:
- Fresh sliced tomato with goat cheese
- Sauteed mushrooms with toasted walnuts and a drizzle of pesto
- Wilted greens and garlic with toasted pine nuts
- Oven-roasted Italian vegetables
- Your favorite tomato sauce
- Roasted squash with blue cheese
Simple Polenta Pizza
Polenta pizza is a quick and delicious gluten-free flatbread, made from cornmeal or polenta. It is a perfect base for all sorts of delicious toppings (see the suggestions above).
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 2 small pizzas 1x
- Category: Main Dish
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cup instant cornmeal or polenta
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- Toppings (see above for suggestions)
- Mix the water, cornmeal, and oil in a medium-sized saucepan. If you are presoaking and fermenting the cornmeal, include the soaking liquid and add enough extra liquid to make up 4 cups total. See the section above for more details on fermenting cornmeal before cooking.
- Bring the water up to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Stir frequently as it thickens to prevent burning to the bottom of the pot. The polenta is cooked when it is as thick as oatmeal.
- Season with salt. Spread the cooked polenta out on 1 or 2 non-stick baking sheets. I recommend lining the baking sheets in non-stick parchment paper for easy serving. You can make a single large pizza or a number of smaller pizzas. This batch will make around four 6-inch pizzas. If time allows, let the polenta cool before baking (see the notes for details).
- To cook the polenta pizza, add the toppings and broil on low until the cheese has melted and is starting to brown (about 5 minutes, depending on your broiler). If the polenta is cold broil it for a few minutes before adding the toppings to warm it up.
- Let the polenta cool slightly to set, then serve with a side salad.
- Instant cornmeal is pre-processed to reduce the cooking time from 40 minutes to 5 minutes.
- If you are really short on time, feel free to use pre-cooked polenta for a quick yet fancy meal. Just make individual slices rather than a single large pizza.
- The longer you allow your polenta to cool and set after cooking, the firmer it will be. It’s fine to spread out the crusts on your baking sheets and leave them to firm up for up to 12 hours. Any longer than that you will need to put them in the fridge.
- If you are using freshly cooked polenta for your crust, then I recommend allowing the pizza to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- All broilers are different. Keep an eye on your pizza because the exact cooking time will depend on how hot your broiler is.