Polenta Pizza

It was brought to my attention that I couldn’t discuss dude food without properly addressing the issue of pizza.  I am a pizza lover myself, but the whole issue of pizza crust somewhat kills the potential for pizza being health food, especially if you are gluten intolerant, like me.  Of course, you can purchase gluten-free mixes at the store, but I have done so before and gotten mediocre results.  Namaste’s gluten-free pizza mix often results in a rock-hard crust, and Bob’s Red Mill crust is chewy, and the bean flour it is made from goes rancid quickly – giving it a bitter unpleasant taste.   Since most gluten-free doughs usually result in one just desiring the real thing, how about just changing the whole idea entirely – and making a crust of polenta?  Polenta is just an Italian term for corn grits when they are prepared with a thick consistency and allowed to gel slightly so that the result can be cut with a knife. 

In the south, grits were traditionally a by-product of the corn oil industry.  Grits were made up of the starch that was leftover after the germ – the nutritious portion of the corn – was removed.  Eating white grits is like eating white flour – because there is no nutritional value, eating refined carbohydrates leaves your body at a nutritional deficit.  Your body uses up minerals in order to digest these foods, but receives no extra minerals in return.  For that reason, it is important that you purchase whole grain grits.  Bob’s Red Mill Organic Corn Grits-Polenta are available in many grocery stores with a large selection of natural foods.

My inspiration for this polenta pizza came from Cynthia Lair’s cookbook:  Feeding the Whole Family: Recipes for Babies, Young Children, and Their Parents. It’s an excellent book for the person who is looking to incorporate whole foods into their family’s diet.

Make sure you consume grits/polenta with plenty of healthy organic butter.  Even better if the butter is a natural golden yellow color, evidence of the cows grazing on freshly growing green grass.  Over-consumption of maize has historically led to the disease pellagra – a vitamin B3 deficiency.  That is why in Mexico, corn was always soaked with lime (a.k.a. quicklime or calcium oxide) water.  This process releases vitamin B3 (nicotinamide), which otherwise remains bound up in the germ.  If you eat corn products often, the step of soaking corn flour in lime water will avoid the vitamin B3 deficiency disease pellagra with symptoms of sore skin, fatigue, and mental disorders (think William Faukner’s characters of the south eastern United States in the 1930’s).  It was discovered that less vitamin B3 was needed if there was plenty of protein in the diet (something that was scarce due to the dire economic circumstances of the rural south in the 1930’s).  … You needn’t worry about pellagra if you eat grits with butter, cheese, milk, sausage, or bacon. 

Recipe for Polenta Pizza:

Ingredients:
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill organic corn grits-polenta
1 can of Muir glen pizza sauce
2 cloves minced garlic 
pink or gray sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried
1 tablespoon fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried
1/4 pound or less of free-range MSG-free local pork sausage
1/4 of a medium onion, minced
1/4 pound of Organic Valley raw mild cheddar, shredded
cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Slowly add 1 cup of polenta, stirring continuously with a whisk.  Lower heat and continue stirring for 10 to 15 minutes until mixture thickens.  Stir in parmesan cheese.  Lightly oil a 10 inch pie plate or iron skillet.  Pour polenta into pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until firm. 

While the polenta is cooking, you can embellish the pizza sauce.  If you are short on time or energy, you can just skip this step and just add jarred pasta sauce instead.

To embellish pizza sauce:  Saute onion in 1 tsp. butter, 1 tsp. olive oil.  Add oregano and basil (reserve basil for garnish if fresh).  Add pizza sauce and minced garlic.

Saute sausage in pan, breaking into medium size pieces, cooking until no longer pink in the middle.

Remove polenta from oven.  Add sauce in a layer that resembles your liking.  Sprinkle cheese.  Top with sausage and sliced cherry tomatoes.  Bake in 350 degree oven until cheese is sufficiently melted.

Top with fresh basil, if available.

Serve with a simple arugula salad or sauteed kale or collard greens.

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3 thoughts on “Polenta Pizza

  1. This is great stuff, Margaret! You're really cookin'! The whole corn and pellagra thing has been so amazing to me. Why is it that Native Americans totally understood how to make corn a nutritious food without losing nutrients to it and yet the Europeans not only didn't understand this but ignored the native practices for preparing corn, although they were totally aware of them. Do you think the deal was that they thought if you GROUND corn with machinery you would expel the anti-nutrient aspects? Sad to say, almost ALL of our plants that were adapted to large scale agriculture carry some sort of phyto toxin that, of course, traditional people seemed totally aware of and dealt with by soaking for fermenting (the wood ash stuff is sooooo extreme!) and we Moderns think we can ignore. Beans. Wheat. Casein in milk. Urgh! I had to wonder today Did you meet Sandor Katz when we hosted him in Shepherdstown or did you meet him at ACRES USA? Or… 😉 Keep up the good work!

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