Grazing. I love the concept of grazing, eating small bites of this and that, teasing my palate with salty, then sweet, then spicy, rather than one large dish. That's the theory behind tapas, the wonderful little dishes of Spain. As an appetizer or part of a grazing menu, or even a small lunch with a green salad, these polenta mini pizzas would be perfect. You can top the pizzas with absolutely anything -- bits of leftovers from the fridge, smoked salmon or proscuitto or sausage, vegetables from the garden, any type of cheese -- and you can make them ahead and reheat just before serving. And the best part? They look rustic and a little bit fancy, at the same time.
Gluten-free polenta mini pizzas
Serves 6-12 (makes 12 small pizzas).
For the pizza base:
2 qts water
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
For the pizza toppings, your choice:
Mozzarella cheese, diced
Sun-dried tomato, diced
Canned chopped green chiles, drained
Canned black beans, drained and rinsed
Spinach sautéed with garlic
Chopped walnuts, toasted
Crumbled feta cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
If you have 2 muffin-top pans, now's the time to use them. If not, line 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.
Spray the six compartments of each muffin-top pan with cooking spray. Or, if you're using sheet pans lined with parchment, trace circles (use a round cookie cutter for a pattern) on the parchment paper. They can be quite close together. Set your prepared pans aside.
In a deep pot, bring 2 quarts of water to the boil. Whisking constantly, slowly add the cornmeal, whisking to make sure there are no lumps. Switch to a wooden spoon, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until the cornmeal starts to pull away from the side of the pan, 3-4 minutes. Then, stir in the parmesan, salt and pepper, and stir for a few seconds to incorporate the cheese.
Immediately spread 3/4 cup of cooked polenta in each of the muffin top compartments (or traced circles on the sheet pans).
Top with your choice of toppings. We made two variations: (1) black beans, corn, sun-dried tomato, green chiles and mozzarella; (2) sautéed spinach with garlic, chopped walnuts and feta.
Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is melted on top and there's a hint of browning around the edges of the polenta.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Roasted butternut squash polenta with smoked gouda and sautéed mushrooms, from Andrea Meyers
Polenta with lemony asparagus and chickpeas, from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Ratatouille on broiled polenta with baby greens, from Gluten-free Goddess
Polenta casserole with fontina and tomato sauce, from Simply Recipes
Broccoli rabe on crispy polenta with a rosemary-goat cheese sauce, from Food Blogga
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