These vegan polenta pizza bites are the perfect mini, gluten-free appetizer. They're easy to make and great for feeding a crowd (and tiny toddlers).
There are few meals more universally beloved than pizza. It's easy to make, versatile, and accommodating to an array of toppings.
Plus, it's nice to hit a few food groups in one swoop. I reckon it's (nearly) impossible to find a valid argument against pizza, especially dairy-free, plant-powered versions like this one.
If you've been following along here for any length of time, you've probably noticed I have a thing for getting creative with pizza crust.
This sweet potato pizza crust is one of my all-time most popular recipes, and it was one of the few blog recipes that made it into my book (not to mention onto the cover itself).
Even portobello mushrooms can become pizza crust. Pardon the non-vegan cheese there, that recipe's from my vegetarian days—but do take note of those wedding planning tips if you're in the midst of gearing up for the big day and need a little comic relief 😬.
All this to say that I've been itching to transform polenta into mini pizza crusts.
With a tomato-lovin' toddler in our house, we're always looking for ways to minify nourishing tomato-focused food options for those teeny, tiny, grubby little hands.
Spoiler alert: Sloane LOVES these mini polenta pizzas. Of course, this is no guarantee that your toddler will, too. Toddlers do as they please, amiright? But it's a promising observation nonetheless.
To make these polenta pizza bites, you'll start by slicing a log of polenta into rounds.
I've found a serrated bread knife works best for this task. Non-serrated knives tend to crush/crumble the polenta's edges.
Once you've sliced the polenta, transfer the rounds to a parchment-lined pan.
Lightly brush the top of each round with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper.
I prefer large flake sea salt for this job (e.g., malden) but fine sea salt works well, too.
Once the rounds are oiled and seasoned, bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they're beginning to turn golden and firm/crisp.
While the polenta rounds bake, you'll get to work on the other ingredients.
Finely chop fresh basil leaves and slice grape or cherry tomatoes into rounds like so...
Do keep in mind that you can add or adjust toppings to suit your tastes. I'd imagine diced or sliced mushrooms and/or peppers would be lovely on these, too.
When the polenta crusts are about 10 minutes away from being ready, begin to prepare your homemade mozzarella cheese.
Homemade cheese sounds all sorts of complicated, but I promise you this one couldn't be easier. It comes together in 10 minutes, and requires just a handful of ingredients.
You'll literally add the ingredients to a blender. Blend on high until as smooth as possible, and then whisk over the stove until thickened like so...
That's it. Please don't be afraid of it!
This is what the baked polenta rounds should look like...
Once they're ready, it's time to top.
Spread a small spoonful of pizza sauce over each. I use store-bought (Rao's is my favorite), but more power to you if you're into homemade pizza sauce. Use that instead!
Use two spoons to dollop a bit of the mozzarella onto each pizza bite.
Top with a few tomato rounds (or whatever veggies you'd like—do keep in mind baking time though as these need only another 5 to 8 minutes in the oven).
Pop the pizza bites back into the oven for 5 minutes, or until slightly crisp and golden.
Garnish with shreds of basil and serve immediately.
These are best enjoyed fresh from the oven, but can be reheated. I like to make a batch to keep in the refrigerator and then reheat two at a time in the oven for Sloane (400F for 5 minutes, or until warmed through).
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. If you make it, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #blissfulbasil on Instagram.
Vegan Polenta Pizza Bites
- 1 tube polenta, chilled and sliced into ⅓- to ½-inch-thick rounds (I love Ancient Harvest polenta)*
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, for brushing
- Salt + pepper
- ½ cup grape tomatoes, sliced into rounds**
- Handful fresh basil leaves, very thinly sliced
- 1 recipe Cashew Mozzarella Cheese
- ½ cup store-bought pizza sauce (I love Rao's)
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the polenta rounds on the baking sheet. Very lightly brush the top of each slice with olive oil. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Once the oven is preheated, bake the polenta rounds for 25 to 30 minutes, or until beginning to turn golden and firm/crisp. Leave the oven on after baking.
- Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes and basil.
- When the polenta is about 10 minutes away from being ready, prepare the Cashew Mozzarella Cheese.
- Spread about a teaspoon of pizza sauce on each baked polenta round. Then, dollop a bit of cashew mozzarella onto each. Top with a few tomato rounds.
- Bake for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until slightly crisp and golden.
- Garnish with fresh basil.
- Serve immediately.***