Thursday, August 21, 2014

Polenta Pizza, 2014 Summer Conference

It was my great pleasure to teach at the 2014 Kushi Institute Macrobiotic Summer Conference in beautiful Becket, Massachusetts. I gave about a dozen classes during the two-week conference, and the most popular one was on vegan pizza making. I showed how to make autumn pizzasummer pizza, and a gluten-free pizza with a polenta crust.

1 cup polenta
3 cups water
1 teaspoon oregano
pinch of sea salt
olive oil

Bring water up to a boil. Stir in salt and oregano. Whisk in the polenta. Lower the flame and stir until the polenta is cooked. Follow the directions on the package. I use Bob’s Red Mill organic polenta, which has a cooking time of five minutes. Spoon cooked polenta into two oiled nine-inch pie pans and spread it out evenly. Set these aside and let them cool.

Carrot-onion topping
2 cups red onion, sliced into thin half-moons (about one onion)
1 cup carrot matchsticks (about one small carrot)
1/2 cup mochi, grated
1 tablespoon umeboshi vinegar

Mix the onions and the umeboshi vinegar. Water sauté the onions until they are a bit tender. Stir in the carrot matchsticks. Add three tablespoons of water. When the water boils, stir the grated mochi into the vegetables and simmer for another minute or two. Remove from heat and set aside.

Tempeh-mushroom topping
2 ounces tempeh
3 crimini mushrooms
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons brown rice miso
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
olive oil

Cut the tempeh into four pieces. Steam tempeh for 15-20 minutes. Chop the tempeh, mushrooms and garlic and mix with the miso, thyme, vinegar and pepper. Sauté this mixture in two tablespoons of olive oil. If it begins to stick, you can add a little water. Sauté until it is golden brown, and then set aside.

Lightly oil a sauté pan big enough to accommodate one of the the polenta crusts. Heat the pan over a medium-low flame. Slide the polenta out of the pie pan and into the sauté pan. Spread half of the sautéed carrots and onions over the polenta. Top with half of the crumbled tempeh and mushroom mix. Cover the pan for the first few minutes to warm the toppings, and then uncover and keep the polenta frying in the pan until it is crispy on the bottom. Gently slide the pie out of the pan onto a cutting board, garnish with fresh basil, slice into six pieces and serve. Repeat with the second polenta crust and the other half of the toppings.

If you're feeling brave, you can flip the polenta in the pan and brown both sides of the crust before you top it. Also, you can bake or grill this pie like regular pizza.

On the day after pizza-making, I gave a class on sourdough bread. I showed how to make dough that can be used for pizza crusts, pan loaves or free-form loaves.

This is a round loaf we baked inside a cast-iron dutch oven.

Another conference highlight for me was teaching one of my favorite subjects: pickle making.

We made (clockwise, from top) shoyu onion pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi. We also made tofu no miso zuke.

It was a fun conference. I enjoyed teaching, and attending classes by other teachers. It was great to be among friends from the macrobiotic community. And it was great to see the natural beauty of the Berkshires in summer...

Photos by Chris Jenkins and Claire Johnson.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this Chris. I can't wait to make the polenta pizza!