When I was personal cheffing, my client was allergic to yeast, eggs, and lactose-intolerant in addition to having Celiac. He lived in Chicago and grew fond of Chicago deep dish pizza before I started cooking for him and learning of his dietary restrictions. My solution: using a crisped up polenta shell as the pizza pie crust, don't hold back on the fillings, and top with goat milk mozzarella (goat and sheep milk are naturally lactose-free). Instant new pizza love. It's just so different, yet very appealing while still obviously a deep dish pizza. A pizza pie reinvented.
While it takes longer to make this polenta pizza pie crust since it's made from dry polenta, it is easier than a traditional pizza crust. The beauty lies in its natural rustic character, i.e., the more imperfect it is, the more appealing it is. Another beauty of this recipe is you can tailor it to your likes and needs. This pizza has two layers of filling: a spinach/sausage/shallot and a tomato sauce. Don't forget to taste each component along the way for the best tasting pizza pies. Swap out the sausage for spicy sausage, chicken sausage, bacon, or even mushrooms to make vegetarian. Swap out the cheese for your cheese of choice. The possibilities are endless, but it will be guaranteed to be delicious.
Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizza Pies (Gluten-Free)
- polenta or GF corn grits (dry), 1 cup
- water or stock of your choice, 3 cups
- olive oil, 2 tablespoons, divided
- small yellow onion or large shallot, chopped fine
- sweet Italian sausage, about 1/2 pound, without casing
- baby spinach, about 4 hands full, chopped fine
- can of crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
- garlic, 2-3 cloves, crushed
- chili flakes, pinch (optional)
- oregano, 1 teaspoon, divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- goat milk mozzarella, 1 cup shredded
- Preheat oven to 325F. In a medium sauce pan, heat the polenta and water/stock over medium heat with some salt if necessary. With frequent stirring, cook down until it becomes the consistency of a thick porridge (about 20-30 minutes). Make sure to taste and add more salt if needed. Immediately divide evenly into a 12-muffin tin. Use something like a shot glass coated with oil to form into a shell with relatively uniform thickness walls. Bake in a 325F oven until lightly golden brown and crispy (about 20-30 minutes).
- While the polenta shells are baking, start preparing to 2 layers: tomato sauce; and the sauteed sausage and spinach.
- Tomato sauce: In a large skillet over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil with the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and chili flakes. Reduce heat to low and frequently stir until it cooks down to a nice thickness. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spinach and sausage filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil with the chopped shallot or onion, and the sausage. Break up and sauteed frequently with a spatula. Once the sausage has browned, add in the chopped spinach and saute. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Assemble the mini pizza pies: using a spoon, first spoon the sausage and spinach filling half way in all the shells, followed by filling the rest almost to the top with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle a little bit of the cheese on top. Place in a 375F oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese turns a little bubbly and/or browned. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Makes 12 mini polenta pizza pies.
The Sensitive Epicure
This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish. This week we're focusing on pizza. On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast. Here are other amazing pizzas to try out from our other friends:
Dishin & Dishes: Crab Rangoon Pizza Flatbread
Daisy at Home: Mini Pizza Bites
The Cultural Dish: Mini Eggplant Pizzas
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spicy Pizza with Garlic Confit & Pesto
Red or Green: Tostada Pizza
Swing Eats: Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizzas (Gluten-Free)
Weelicious: Quilt Pizza
Taste with the Eyes: Pretty Little Cast Iron Skillet Pizzas
The Mom 100: Two-Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Naan Pizza
FN Dish: 6 Newfangled Ways to Get Your Pizza Fix