Monday, February 7, 2011

Polenta "Pizza" Crust with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Chicken, and Peppers; Menu Plan for 2/6/11 - 2/12/11

 I think it's safe to say that all of us who don't eat wheat or dairy miss pizza terribly.  Whether it's a thick, chewy crust you adore, or a thin, crispy one, it's hard to find a wheat-free equivalent that: isn't crumbly, doesn't stink like beans, or isn't like eating cardboard.  

While this polenta crust is no pizza dough equivalent, it is a tasty base for toppings and your choice of non-dairy cheese.  Unfortunately, without gluten, I don't think I will ever enjoy pizza the same way.  Instead of pining for food I can't have and being completely unsatisfied or grossed out by substitutions (sometimes very fake and processed), why not try something that is just delicious to begin with?  Polenta? Yes, it's delicious!  Sun-dried tomatoes?  Yup, love those, too!  Bell peppers?  My favourite topping!  Goat Cheese?  Yes, please!

I used a Silpat to line to baking sheet but parchment paper cut to fit the pan, covering the bottom and sides will work well, too.  Do NOT place polenta directly on a non-stick pan.  In my experience, the polenta has pulled the non-stick coating (the gray-ish stuff) off the pan.  Not only is your pan ruined, but so is your dinner.

For the "sauce" I adapted a sun-dried tomato jam recipe I made in the past.  It's a pretty rich-tasting jam so I decided to add shredded chicken and some bell peppers.  The husband was advised to avoid onions by the Naturopath, so we omitted those (see here for the original recipe) even though they really do make the jam.

For the chicken, we found a great deal on bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts at our local supermarket.  As much as love a crispy skin chicken dish, we are trying to watch our fat intake.  I used this method to cook the chicken and saved the fatty chicken water (sounds appetizing, I know) to use in a veggie soup later on.  It's still chicken fat, but at least it'll be spread out over several bowls of soup, rather than consumed by us in one meal.

The verdict:  Tasty!  The tartness of the sun-dried tomatoes complemented the creaminess of the polenta well, and the water from the sun-dried tomato "jam" kept the chicken pieces from being too dry.  The only downside was that this is not a "pizza" that you can pick up and eat with your hands.  The center of the pizza gets soggy pretty easily, so make sure the crust is baked well, and is firm before you put toppings on.  I think I will make several smaller pizzas next time to avoid this.

Polenta Pizza Crust
adapted from

1 cup corn meal
3 cups water
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Sun-dried tomato jam adapted from Everyday Italian

8 oz. jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, finely chopped (reserve 1 tbsp of the oil)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Cooked, shredded chicken (I used the meat from 2 large chicken breasts)
Chopped bell peppers (I used each of yellow and orange)

For the crust:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Put a Silpat on a cookie sheet (or parchment paper to cover the bottom and sides of pan).
Stir the cornmeal, water, and salt together in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens enough to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and stir in the olive oil.

Let cool for about 2 minutes, then spread evenly over the Silpat with a rubber spatula. 

Bake for 15 minutes, or until set.

For the toppings: 

Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the reserved sun-dried tomato oil, olive oil, and garlic. Stir and cook until mixture starts to bubble slightly. Add the sugar, vinegar, water, and thyme, stirring well until mixture starts to bubble again.  Add shredded chicken and toss to ensure that all the chicken bits are covered in the tomato mixture.

Spread mixture evenly over polenta crust and top with chopped peppers and cheese.  Bake in oven at 375 F, or until cheese is melted.

This week's menu:
You will notice that I have a snack and a late lunch from Wednesday onwards, as I'll be at a training session that finishes at about 1:30 PM.  I plan on having a snack (S) at the training and a small late lunch (LL) when I get home.

Monday: B-Oatmeal and apple; L-  ; D-Polenta Pizza with steamed broccoli
Tuesday: B-Oatmeal; L-leftover Polenta Pizza and broccoli; D-Vegetable lentil quinoa soup
Wednesday: B-Oatmeal; S-hummus, peppers, crackers; LL-leftover soup; D-Leftover pizza
Thursday: B-Oatmeal; S-Banana ; LL- Leftover soup  D- out for friend's birthday
Friday: B- Oatmeal; S-banana and spelt cookie; LL- Bell pepper and quinoa soup ; D- Out for sushi!
Saturday: B-Mango smoothie; L- Out for Thai food; D-Husband's fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and broccoli

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