I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for P.A.N. Cornmeal. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
As you know by now, I definitely consider myself a food explorer! I totally love trying new foods all around the world when I travel, and then recreating them when I get back home. The month before I began Vintage Zest, I was in South America where I have traveled a few times. Right now, I'm working on my perfect arepa recipe, but today I am sharing one of my absolute favorite recipes that I make from time to time, using the same base ingredient: cornmeal! Cornmeal is such a versatile ingredient that I use it as the base of my deep dish "pizza pies!" There are several types of cornmeal, but I used the 100% white corn meal from P.A.N. Cornmeal, the number one brand in South America. It looks almost identical to a regular crust from far away, which is a fun surprise for guests when they cut into it!
I love making this dish because unlike making a traditional pizza crust, the cornmeal version is quick and easy, plus it is gluten-free! Also, you can customize the toppings to accommodate any dietary restrictions. That means it is wonderful for a party... plus you could even make mini versions! You'll just have to adjust the cook time depending on how small you make them because they'll bake up MUCH quicker!
After I made the three versions below, I asked which was the favorite of the bunch. The feedback was that each one was good... so they couldn't pick! Initially, I was worried because I had a pizza purist in the taste-testing bunch, but it passed the test. This is not a direct substitution for a traditional deep dish crust, but everyone always thinks it's really delicious. Whew! In all honesty, I couldn't decide if I should call these cornmeal tarts, deep dish "pizzas," or something else instead, but I just know this dish is a crowd pleaser. :)
Now, let's get to the recipe!
Sausage & Veggie Deep Dish "Pizza Pies"
A Vintage Zest original
- 1 cup 100% white corn P.A.N. Cornmeal
- 1/4 cup mozzarella
- 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp. pepper, or to taste
Toppings (completely your choice, and here are some examples that I used!)
- Sauce: tomato basil, pesto, spicy tomato sauce
- Cheese: mozzarella, feta, etc.
- Veggies: tomato, zucchini, mushrooms, red onion
- Meats: chicken sausage
- Extras: sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil
1. Chop up all your ingredients before starting the crust into the desired sizes.
2. Boil 2¼ cups water.
3. Slowly add the cornmeal while whisking continuously. (Do this to avoid lumps!)
4. Once the cornmeal is incorporated, add the mozzarella, salt, and pepper.
5. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken up, which happens in just a couple of minutes.
6. Spray a pie plate or similar-sized pan with cooking spray.
7. Add the cornmeal to the plate and spread using a spoon.
Tip: Keep your spoon in one place and spin the plate around in a circle to get it nice and smooth! I don't mind the crazy edges because they get nice and crispy, but you can form them nicer if you like. :)
8. Time to create your masterpiece! Add the sauce first...
...and then the toppings! (More on my toppings below, after the recipe.)
9. Bake the "pizzas" at 425° F until the crust begins to crisp and brown around the edges, about 25 minutes. Start checking at 20 minutes to make sure it doesn't overcook!
And that's it! Make sure to rest the tart for 10 minutes or so before cutting into it. It will firm up nicely and then you can cut it into nice, thick wedges.
Alternatively, if you want a firmer, crispier crust throughout, bake it for 10 minutes or so before adding the toppings. I asked my taste testers if they thought it would help out, but they loved it as is.
Now, a word on the toppings I used. I would suggest that you don't use too many watery veggies to avoid a soggy crust or you can pre-bake the crust as I suggested above. Here are the three versions I made using combinations of ingredients.
- Super Veggie Pizza #1: tomato basil sauce & pesto sauce, tomato, zucchini, mushrooms, red onion, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella
- Spicy Sausage Pizza: spicy tomato sauce, sausage, red onion, mushrooms, mozzarella
- Mediterranean Pizza: pesto sauce, tomato, zucchini, red onion, sundried tomatoes, chicken sausage, fresh basil, feta
As I suggested before, try different flavor combinations to suit you and your family's or guest's tastes, and you'll find your favorites in no time!
That will definitely be the hardest part of making the dish since the crust is so super simple thanks to the quick cooking, tasty cornmeal! For more recipe ideas using P.A.N. cornmeal check out this link.
I'm excited to try out a few different versions next time, perhaps a breakfast version using breakfast sausage and an egg? Maybe a southwest version with roasted peppers and corn? I don't know quite yet, but it'll fun to experiment. I would love to hear your suggestions as well!
What would you top your deep dish "pizza pie" with?
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