So I have this little thing about making pizza. A problem, if you will. It’s not a pizza crust problem – nope, I’ve totally mastered that with my chickpea flour and polenta “alternatives.” (Using quotations because I don’t really consider it an “alternative” when you enjoy it just as much as the “real” thing, dontcha think?)

Rather, I’m toppings-challenged. Not that I can’t think of toppings that are different than good ol’ Papa G’s, but just that I put weigh too much of them. Pun intended.

For the life me I can’t get by without loading up piles of toppings, inches high. I guess I overestimate? Or maybe I’m just asking too much of my crust?

Well, I don’t think it makes any less of a pizza if you have to eat it with a knife and fork. Perhaps more of a pizza pie, though. And who doesn’t like pie for dinner?

For this pizza pie, you’ve got no choice but to open wide. First there is the jalapeno-studded polenta crust. If you’ve never tried polenta as a crust, just remember this:

No yeast.
No kneeding.
No rolling.

Repeat it. Are you convinced? If not, there’s the fact that it’s ever-so-slightly sweet with an addicting-ly gritty little bite. For this recipe, I cooked some diced jalapeno right into it for a little, knowing it would complement the creamy avocado and sweet tomatoes on top. But you can take it or leave it, depending on your toppings.

Don’t correlate the monstrous amounts of toppings with time to prepare. These ones come together in the time you are pre-baking your crust to get it crisp and sturdy as can be (but alas, still not sturdy enough for all those toppings. #firstworldproblems.)

Oh, and if you don’t trust me on baking an avocado? Just take a deep breath. Try something new. Relax. Grab a knife and a fork. And enjoy!

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Avocado Chicken Pizza on Jalapeno-Polenta Crust

Yield: 3 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes (includes time needed to chill)

Spicy jalapeno-polenta crust piled high with seasoned chicken, creamy avocado, fresh tomato and melted cheese. Grab a fork and knife for this one!

Ingredients:

Polenta Crust
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
freshly ground black pepper

Toppings
8-10oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 teaspoons southwest seasoning blend
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2/3 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican-blend cheese, or non-dairy cheese such as Daiya pepperjack flavor
1/2 of an avocado, thinly sliced
chopped cilantro, for garnish

Equipment
11" spring form pan
Pizza pan (one with holes, such as this, works well) or a pizza stone

Directions:

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt, olive oil and jalapeno. Slowly pour in cornmeal while whisking. When all of the cornmeal has been added and no lumps remain, reduce heat to medium-high and continue cooking while stirring with a wooden spoon. When the mixture has thickened (about 3 minutes) spread evenly into the spring form pan. If needed, place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface and smooth with your hands. Cool and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 450ºF. If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven while it preheats. When the oven is hot, carefully transfer the polenta crust to the stone using two spatulas. If using a pizza pan, carefully transfer the polenta crust to the pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with southwest seasoning blend. Cook until browned on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Turn and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for one more minute, until chicken is cooked through. Turn off heat.

Carefully remove the stone or pan from the oven. Top the pizza with diced tomatoes, sliced onion, avocado, chicken and garlic mixture, and shredded cheese. Return to oven for another 15 minutes.

Cool slightly. Sprinkle with cilantro, slice into wedges, and serve.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 347.1
Total Fat 15.6 g
Saturated Fat 3.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6.5 g
Cholesterol 54.8 mg
Sodium 960.9 mg
Potassium 520.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 44.1 g
Dietary Fiber 6.7 g
Sugars 0.3 g
Protein 27.0 g

Cara Lyons, www.carascravings.com