Vegetable Polenta Pie

Adapted fromĀ The New Moosewood Cookbook

I had a twinge of guilt as I purchased a very small, very out-of-season zucchini for this recipe. I knew it had had a long trip from Mexico or somewhere the sun is actually shining right now. But it seemed like it would go so nicely in this dish…so I bought a well-traveled eggplant, too. And then a tomato. Oh, and a sweet pepper, too. It just seems that summer is so far away. You’ll forgive me, right? If you happen to be making this in the summer, never mind.

  • For the cornmeal crust:
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1-1/2 cups yellow cornmeal (see tips)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water
  • Olive oil
  • For the vegetable filling:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small sweet pepper, thinly sliced
  • 10 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 small tomato, thinly sliced
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, combine the cornmeal, kosher salt and cold water in a small bowl, whisking together to remove any lumps. Slowly pour into the boiling water, whisking gently. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The polenta will become quite thick. Set it aside and allow it to cool slightly.
  • Grease a wide shallow pie plate with a bit of olive oil. When the polenta can be easily handled, spread it out along the bottom and sides of the pan using wet fingers and a spatula. Mine didn’t stick to the sides very well and instead pooled in the bottom of the dish (see tips on type of cornmeal to possibly mitigate this problem). I spread it out again after 15 minutes of baking and it was more spreadable at that point. Coat the polenta with a little olive oil, then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes.
  • While the polenta crust is in the oven, prepare the vegetable filling. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened and beginning to brown slightly. Add pepper, mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, basil and oregano and cook for another minute or two. Set aside.
  • To assemble the pie, place 1/2 cup of the cheese in the bottom of the baked crust, then arrange the tomato slices on top. Add the vegetable mixture, then top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Turn the broiler on and place the dish back on the middle rack. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned. To serve, cut into wedges and enjoy hot.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. The recipe called for “coarse cornmeal.” I had a rather fine organic yellow cornmeal on hand and can’t help but to wonder if the result would have been different had I used the coarse variety? My crust didn’t spread out along the sides very neatly and it didn’t get as crunchy as it might have had the polenta been a bit thicker. I will try it next time and report back.
  • 2. If you’d rather try a different mix of vegetables, have at it. You can really cook up any number of vegetable combinations. It’s sort of like a deep dish pizza with a cornmeal crust, so use your favorite pizza toppings if you’d like.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

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