Why do we so often forget about the multi-tasking food superhero that is polenta? It's so tasty and wholesome both in sweet and savoury dishes - Caleigh's gluten-free fishcakes are stress-free and gorgeous, and it's hard not to be in love with Sara's apple, honey and polenta cake - so why don't we use it more often?
It seems even the supermarkets have forgotten about it: my quest for this recipe revealed that my local Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's only do the ready-made, plasticky version - luckily, Waitrose eventually came up trumps with the instant variety. You can use the readymade stuff if you're really stuck (you'll need a good 800g or so, though), but make sure you slice it nice and thin - I'd say 1-1.5cm - and use generous amounts of toppings, or it veers towards the wrong side of bland.
The beauty of this dish - aside from ALL THE TASTY CHEESE mixed with deliciously flavoursome squash - is it feels naughty but you don't need too much of it: your plateful seems deceptively stingy but this really fills you up. It's especially good for those nights when you're craving the entire contents of your biscuit cupboard (we all have a whole cupboard for biscuits, yeah?) because you really won't be feeling peckish after a big ol' slice of polenta pizza.
For the base:
- 160-200g polenta (depending on how thick you like your pizza. I used 200g for a 'deep pan' effect)
- 1 vegetable stock cube (made up in 1 litre of water)
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan
For the topping:
- Half a butternut squash, diced into small chunks
- Two big cloves of garlic, crushed
- Olive oil
- 2-3 tbsp red pesto
- 200g grated mozzarella
- 40g grated parmesan
- Two or three sprigs fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
- 150-175g goat's cheese (the stronger the better), sliced into cubes
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees (or 200 if it's a fan oven).
- Put your diced squash and crushed garlic in a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste. Give it all a good shake and stir to coat all the squash. Pop it in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until it has softened (the cooking time all depends on the size of your cubes, so do keep checking once you get to fifteen minutes or so.)
- In the mean time, bring your stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Begin to stir in the polenta, a healthy handful at a time, until it has all absorbed. Turn the heat down towards the middle of the process, because as the mixture thickens it can start to spit!
- Once all the polenta is stirred in, let the mixture sit on a very low heat for five minutes whilst stirring it firmly as it thickens. Then take it off the heat and stir in the parmesan.
- On a parchment-lined baking tray, spread the polenta into a circle using a spatula. It should be about 1.5-2.5cm thick.
- Spread the pesto on using the spatula, and then top with the mozzarella and parmesan.
- Remove the squash from the oven and top the pizza with that, along with the goat's cheese and tomatoes.
- Sprinkle the top with the rosemary, and pop it back in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until all the cheese has melted and the edge of the polenta is starting to look nice and crisp.
- Serve immediately, with a punchy sauvignon blanc, or a zippy Italian red.