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Polenta “pizza” with pancetta and spinach

Yield: 4 servings/ Time: About 40 minutes


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for the pan
  • 1/2 cup milk, preferably whole
  • 1 cup coarse cornmeal
  • 1 cup small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) chopped pancetta
  • 1 pound spinach, washed, trimmed and dried
  • 1 pound to 1 1/2 cups gorgonzola cheese, crumbled


Baking Directions:


Heat the oven to 450˚ F; brush a layer of olive oil on a pizza pan or cookie sheet.

Combine the milk with 2 1/2 cups water and a large pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

Bring just about to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking all the while to prevent lumps from forming.

Turn the heat down to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until thick, 10 or 15 minutes.

If the mixture becomes too thick, whisk in a bit more water; for this crust, you want a consistency approaching thick oatmeal.


Stir 1 tablespoon of the oil into the cooked polenta and pour and spoon it onto the prepared pan.

Work quickly so the polenta doesn’t stiffen and spread it evenly to a thickness of about 1/2-inch all over; sprinkle with salt and pepper; cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator to set (at this point you can leave the polenta overnight if you prefer).


Put the polenta in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until it begins to brown and crisp on the edges.

Meanwhile, put two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the pancetta is nicely browned, about 10 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to take the onion and pancetta out of the pan and set it aside.

Add the spinach to the skillet and sauté until it releases its water and the pan becomes dry; sprinkle with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.


Take the polenta out, sprinkle with the Gorgonzola, then spread the onion, pancetta and spinach evenly on top of the cheese; drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil.

Put the pizza back in the oven for two minutes, or until the cheese begins to melt and the pancetta and vegetables are warmed through.

Cut into slices and serve hot or at room temperature.


Variation: Before you put it in the oven, top the polenta with thin slices of fresh mozzarella, two or three thinly sliced Roma tomatoes or a bit of tomato sauce, and a handful of fresh basil leaves.