My mom is in town (yeah!!!!!!) and she is the polenta expert. She knows how to perfectly cook it and she also really likes it. I decided to let her prepare the polenta (she’s the best!!) and I played around the traditional recipe to prepare something fun and inviting for the kids: mini polenta pizzas!!!
Some background information about Polenta. Polenta is a traditional Northern Italian dish, is made with yellow maize flour and it is basically a cooked cornmeal or a corn porridge. Like pasta there are tons of recipes with polenta, from the traditional polenta with beef stew, where basically the polenta acts like a side rice or bread for the stew, to more creative recipes like the one I would like to share with you today.
Polenta is naturally gluten free as it comes from corn that doesn’t contain gluten.
Also, it has a very creamy texture (something that kids really like), thanks to the gelatinization of the grain starch.
That’s all you will need to prepare 20 mini polenta pizzas:
That’s how to proceed:
First thing to do is to prepare the polenta. Yes, you can always buy the polenta already made at the grocery store, the one that comes in a small yellow cylindric shape (I think it’s called polenta tube…) but…it’s not the same taste as an homemade polenta and my mom will never, never let me buy the already made polenta 😉
– Fill a medium size saucepan with 4 cups of water. I deeply suggest to use a standard iron saucepan, NOT a “non stick” one. It will be much much easier to clean. Add salt and bring it to a boil. When the water starts bubbling, slowly add the polenta flour (yellow maize flour) and mix it with a whisk in order to obtain a smooth consistency.
– Reduce the heat to minimum, so that the polenta will just simmer and cover with a lid. Let the polenta slow cook for 40 minutes.
– Once every five minutes stir the polenta. If the polenta will stick to the bottom of the saucepan, it’s fine. Do not worry, it happens. You will be able to perfectly clean your saucepan later.
– The polenta will be ready when it will reach a thick creamy consistency. That’s what we need for this recipe. Transfer the polenta in a oblong glass pyrex baking dish and level the polenta with a tablespoon in order to obtain one thick layer (1 inch).
– Let the polenta cool down and get firm for 30 minutes. If you are in a hurry you can place the dish in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. When the polenta is firm and cold you can remove it from the dish just flipping it over on a flat surface.
– Using a round cookie cutter start cutting out small circles of polenta and place them one next to the other on a parchment paper on a baking sheet.
– Do not throw away the polenta leftovers. They can be molded as play dough in the cookie cutters and form other circles…nothing will be wasted!!
– Spread one teaspoon of tomato paste (a good quality one) on top of each polenta circle
– Add one or two cubes of mozzarella. Sprinkle with some fresh or dry oregano and a tiny pinch of salt. Drizzle some extra virgin oil of olive on top of the small pizzas. Bake them in the preheated oven at 400F/200C for 15 minutes. Add 5 minutes in broil mode in order to let the mozzarella get golden.