This recipe has a history. It started with my mom’s trusty recipe for Mexican Pizza. Then came my serendipitous discoveries that (a) it can be adapted to a non-Mexican-flavored version, which my family loves just as much as the Mexican version, and (b) it can be baked in a toaster-oven. More than a year ago, I opened a contest to name this recipe…but none of the suggestions really grabbed me. Meanwhile, my life-partner Daniel has referred to it at least once as Flexican Cornbread Pizza, which I think is a pretty good name, and he’s been kind of depressed lately, but he really enjoyed this meal when I made it last night, so…
THE WINNER IS DAN EFRAN, CREATOR OF COOL STUFF TO BRIGHTEN YOUR DAY!!! YAAAYYY!!!
Absolutely no nepotism was involved. It’s really more about my fondness for words that combine two other words. This recipe is flexible and can be Mexican in flavor, and it’s like a pizza with a cornbread crust, so Flexican Cornbread Pizza is a perfect name. Unless we come up with something even punnier.
This recipe can be adapted to the vegetables and herbs you happen to have on hand. You could even use leftovers! That makes it very frugal. Here is the Mexican version, and here is an Italian version I made on a hot summer day, and below is the recipe with general guidelines plus specifics on last night’s cozy January dinner. It’s vegetarian and can be made vegan. From start to finish, you can make it in 30 minutes or less, even if your onions or other vegetables are frozen shredded–they’ll thaw easily in the first stage of cooking.
These instructions are for baking in a standard oven, on a cookie sheet with sides. See the above Italian version to adjust quantities to make a 9″ square pan to bake in the toaster-oven.
To make 6 main-dish servings, you will need:
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked and rinsed beans. I used pinto beans last night; I rinsed 2 cans, set aside 1/4 cup for the baby’s dinner (she also had black olives and Cheerios), and used the rest on the pizza.
- 1/4 to 1/2 onion, or 1 or 2 green onions. I used the last bits left over from a sweet white onion we’d cut up for other meals.
- vegetables. I used 4 big leaves of kale, 8 large white button mushrooms, and a big handful of black olives.
- herbs, fresh or dried. I used 1 stalk dried rosemary and 2 stalks dried thyme. (Did you know? Most fresh herbs will turn into dried herbs if you just put them in an open-topped plastic bag in the refrigerator and forget about them. It doesn’t work with basil or parsley because they’re too wet and will get moldy.)
- other seasonings to taste. I used about 1/4 tsp. each of sea salt and white pepper.
- Optional: 1 cup marinara sauce. We didn’t use any this time. Another option is to leave it off the pizza but serve it on the side.
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil.
- Grease for the baking pan. I used coconut oil.
- 1 cup cornmeal.
- 1 tsp. salt.
- 1 cup flour. I used whole-wheat flour.
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder.
- 1 cup plain yogurt, applesauce, or pumpkin puree. I used yogurt. (If applesauce is sweetened, omit syrup/honey.)
- 1 Tbsp. sorghum syrup or honey.
- Optional: 1 egg. The crust holds together better if you use egg than if you don’t.
- Optional: 1 cup grated cheese. I used mozzarella.
Dice onion, any fresh herbs, and vegetables. Saute them in 1 Tbsp. olive oil, in a skillet, for a few minutes, crumbling in any dried herbs and adding other seasonings.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425F. Grease the cookie sheet, bottom and sides, from one end to about 3 inches from the other end. (If you want your crust really thin, you can grease the whole pan. I prefer to make it thicker.)
Mix cornmeal, salt, flour, and baking powder in a bowl. Make a well in the center and put yogurt, syrup, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and egg in it. Mix them together and then mix with the dry ingredients; don’t mix too long or hard, just until combined. (Over-mixing will pop the bubbles created by the baking powder, resulting in less fluffy cornbread.)
Pour the batter into the pan–start at one end and spread batter toward the other end, using a rubber scraper, until you begin having trouble getting it to stay together–it should be about 1/2 inch deep.
If using sauce, spread it over the batter. Sprinkle vegetable mixture and beans evenly over the batter. Sprinkle optional cheese evenly on top.
Bake 10 minutes. Check to see if you can lift the edge of the crust easily with a spatula. If not, keep baking and checking every few minutes until it’s done–typically 15-20 minutes.
Cut into rectangles and serve with salad or fruit for a nice meal. Leftover pieces easily reheat in the microwave or toaster-oven.