Healthy Pizza, yes, for real!

Pizza holds a special place in many of our hearts.  First of all, it's delicious.  Second of all, it's often served during happy events like birthday parties and family dinners so it's associated with comfort and happiness.  For these reasons, whether or not you're from Chicago like I am, pizza is often considered a food group in and of itself.  

Finding new ways to eat the foods we love is essential to maintaining a real-food lifestyle which is why I was thrilled to find a delicious, nutrient-packed, gluten-free, and dairy-optional pizza recipe in my favorite new cookbook, Clean Start by Terry Walters.  I've modified her recipe to include a variation for meat eaters and posted for you to enjoy.  

Impossibly Delicious Polenta Pizza

Makes two 10-inch pizzas

Preparing Crust

3 Cups Vegetable Stock

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh basil (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 teaspoon fresh parsley (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 cups polenta

2 tablespoons cornmeal 

Bring stock to a boil.  Add all herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Whisking continuously, pour in polenta and continue whisking for 5 - 7 minutes until smooth and thick.  Pour into two 11-inch pie pans and spread evenly over the bottom of each pan.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 20 minutes, until firm.  

Preheat oven to 350.  Remove polenta from the refrigerator, sprinkle pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal, transfer polenta to baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside. 

Kale & Mushroom Topping 

1 large leek, sliced

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons mirin

4 crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 bunch kale, finely chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

1/4 - 1/2 cup pasta sauce (depending on how much sauce you like) 

2 oz feta cheese (optional)

Poblano Pepper, Sausage, Mushroom, and Red Onion Topping

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 poblano pepper, thinly sliced

1 cooked turkey or chicken sausage, sliced

3 crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 oz feta cheese (optional)

Preparing toppings

For kale pizza, place large skillet over medium heat and cook leek in 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil for 3 minutes.   Add mirin and cook for 2 minutes longer.  Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.  Add kale and cook for another 3 minutes.  Drizzle with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.

For sausage pizza,  place large skillet over medium heat and cook red onion in 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes.  Add poblano pepper and cook for 2 minutes longer.  Add mushrooms and cooked turkey sausage and heat for 5 minutes or until heated through.  Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Spread pasta sauce evenly over crust, leaving a 1/2-inch edge.  Top with kale or sausage mixture and crumbled feta cheese (optional).  Bake for 15 minutes.  Cut with a pizza wheel and serve.

Note:  This is more of a weekend project than a weekday meal.  It took me a little over 90 minutes from start to finish but I also made my own pizza sauce (optional). 

World's Yummiest (and simplest) Pizza Sauce

8 oz tomato sauce
6 oz tomato paste
1 tbsp fresh basil (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 tbsp fresh parsley (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 tsp salt
Red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients and heat for 10 minutes.  

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!  Did I mention this is even better cold?