Use Leftover Polenta For Quick And Easy Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

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Level up your homemade pizza game and put that leftover polenta to good use. (Step aside, cauliflower pizza crust.)

If you've never tried it, polenta is made from cornmeal porridge and often served with short ribs or topped with ragu. The dish originated in Northern Italy, where it was enjoyed by farmers, and today has emerged as a standard menu fixture in Italian restaurants. If you end up with a takeout box full of it, rejoice — who said leftovers have to be boring? Or a repeat of the same thing you had for dinner last night? This polenta pizza crust recipe is a transformative way to repurpose those leftovers. But, if you'd rather skip the dining-out part, you can simply swing by the grocery store. Polenta is sold as raw corn grits to be boiled and rehydrated or as a pre-cooked tube in the refrigerator aisle.

Its mild corn flavor makes for a savory, texturally-interesting pizza crust that also happens to be gluten-free. Plus, polenta is an easy way to incorporate a little extra fiber into your diet, and there's no need to wrestle with finicky yeast or wait for the dough to rise. You can even cook the polenta in the microwave. Admittedly, the crust does need some time to set up in the fridge — at least an hour up to overnight. But, with some planning, you could even make it a few days ahead and forget about it.

Get a little corny on pizza night

To take your polenta to pizza town, brush a baking sheet with olive oil and spread your polenta across the prepared pan. Leftover polenta, a pre-cooked tube, or freshly rehydrated cornmeal will all work here. Then, wrap the dish in plastic wrap and transfer it to the fridge to set. When you're ready to use it, par-bake the chilled polenta crust for about a half hour, load it up with your toppings, and slam the pizza in the oven to enjoy. (Be aware: polenta crust doesn't hold up structurally to lift by the slice, but it's a killer fork-and-knife pizza situation.)

To flex your culinary prowess, try topping your pizza with ingredients that will complement polenta's savory corn flavor. You could use pancetta, onions, gorgonzola, and spinach for a brunch-worthy pizza. Or, make a vegetarian pizza with tomato sauce, thinly-sliced tomato, basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella. Kick it umami style with roasted mushrooms, eggplant, fontina cheese, and red pepper flakes. For a fun side dish to a meaty entrée, use broccoli rabe, olive oil, smoked provolone, and minced garlic. Plum tomatoes, pesto, and halved shallots would also be delicious — not to mention cost-effective. 

An 18-ounce log of prepared San Gennaro Polenta runs for around $4 at Walmart. Or, if you'd rather purchase the corn grits and make your polenta from scratch, a 24-ounce bag from Bob's Red Mill can be found for around $10 on Amazon.