Saturday, August 6, 2011

Polenta Pie

Texas continues to wilt beneath a brutal heat wave.  All but six of our 254 counties have burn bans in effect. I can't actually remember the last time it rained.

Still, a girl cannot live on fruit, salad, and frozen treats forever.  Mr. Wendy has been lobbying (at first subtly, lately more loudly) for something a bit heartier.

Heartier, but not too fatty or rich.  After all, our household has recently returned to Weight Watchers.  And, again, it's like an oven outside ... fatty and rich might kill us on the spot.

The perfect compromise?  This tasty polenta pie.  The original recipe is from one of the Moosewood cookbooks.  I don't know which one (definitely not one I own); I got the recipe from a friend.  The original makes a single pie with a thicker, softer polenta base topped with sliced veg and a little cheese.

Polenta Pie with Faux Sausage, Tomatoes, and Mushrooms

I've modified the heck out of the original, turning it into something closer to deep dish pizza ... but, again, without all the fat and goo.  Adding a little garlic powder and parmesan to the polenta gives it a flavor boost and helps it crisp up a bit.  Dividing the polenta between two 9-inch pie pans (instead of the original, single 10-inch pan) brings the texture and thickness closer to a hearty pizza crust.

I've also mixed up the filling, adding more tomato and some Gimme Lean sausage to simulate Chicago-style pizza toppings.

For you meat eaters out there, you could use half a pound of ground sausage instead of the soy substitute ... just brown and drain off the excess fat before you add the mushrooms.  You could also use any pizza toppings you want to (onions? olives?); just be sure you cook out most of the liquid from any vegetables and that you precook all meats.  An added bonus?  The crust is gluten-free!  (The Gimme Lean is NOT gluten free, however, so celiacs need to modify the filling.)

Mr. Wendy declared this a "keeper" and it's now gone into our reserve of Weight Watchers-friendly comfort food.  I hope you enjoy it, too!

Polenta Pie


1 1/2 c. coarse corn meal (or corn grits, if you live in the south)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 c. cold water
2 c. hot water
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. olive oil


2 c. shredded mozzarella
1 tsp. olive oil
7 oz. Gimme Lean (sausage style -- NOT gluten free)
1 pound mushrooms, chopped
28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained well in a colander
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)

For the crust:  Preheat oven to 375.  Spray 2 9-inch pie plates with nonstick spray.  Combine the corn meal, salt, garlic powder, and cold water in a bowl.  Heat the 2 c. water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water, whisking.  Immediately reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook (just below a simmer) for about 10 minutes, whisking often.  Polenta will thicken considerably.

Mix in olive oil and parmesan cheese.  Divide mixture between the two pie pans.  Spread with a spatula or wet hands to cover the bottom and sloping sides of the pans.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Filling:  About 15 minutes before the crusts are done, heat the remaining tsp. of olive oil in a large skillet.  Brown the sausage, breaking the pieces into fairly small bits.  Once the sausage is fairly well cooked, add the mushrooms and herbs.  Saute until the mushrooms are starting to brown (they will shrink and give off most of their liquid ... you want the liquid to evaporate).  Add the drained tomatoes and heat through.

When the crust is done, remove from the oven.  Immediately heat the oven to a high broil.  Sprinkle a half-cup of shredded cheese in the bottom of each crust.  Top with the filling (divided between the two pans).  Top with remaining cheese.  Return to the oven and let "broil" (in the middle of the oven) for 5 - 7 minutes, until the cheese starts to brown a bit on top.

** Since there are only two of us, there's no way we could eat all this food.  I made both crusts and all of the filling, but I only assembled one pie the first night.  I stored the second crust and the remaining filling SEPARATELY overnight.  I then reheated both separately before I assembled the second pie.  I think that's the way to go, to prevent the crust from becoming soggy.


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.


  1. Wendy, this sounds delish, and like a perfect meal for someone like me who needs to eat gluten-free and adores cheese! Yay! And veggie to boot! Our old pal Julie would adore this.


  2. Avery - I was thinking of you when I had the "gluten free!" revelation. :)

  3. Polenta is very popular at our place. I make it quite often. Love this version. We (and by we I mean my husband) is always interested in meatless variations and he'll love this. I will too because mushrooms are nice and meaty! Thanks, Wendy.

  4. Thanks, Wendy!!! This sounds wonderful. How many points plus does it have as we are doing WW also??

    I have some portabellas that I've been looking at so these will take the place of meat this time for sure...

    Praying that the great state of Texas is soon drenched...

  5. I just love polenta... so much to do with it. Love the idea of tomatoes on this

    Blue Cheese and feta are my favorite cheeses with this.

  6. Nanc, According to the recipe builder, one quarter of this recipe (1/2 of a 9 inch pie) is 11. Not too shabby ... it's a big meal, even for me (a big eater).

    Dave - Blue cheese is a little strong for me, but I love the idea of feta. With some fresh oregano and with some kalamata olives? Yum!

    (And, MJ, yes this is a very, very hearty meal.)

  7. Wow, Wendy! This is amazing. It would be great without any meat or soy. Yum! Hearty without being heavy is a challenge.

    ~ Krista

  8. I grew up on polenta! LOL! Lovely recipe.

    ~ Cleo