Lemons and Basil

Polenta Pizza with Kabocha Squash and Kale

As a lover of all-things-pizza and all-things-veggies, I’m forever combining the two in search of a new flavorful, healthy crust or sauce to see what I can come up with. And my last pizza + veggie endeavor resulted in this Polenta Pizza with Kabocha Squash and Kale. 

If you’re not familiar with polenta, it is typically made from yellow or white cornmeal, and is similar in taste to that of cornbread or a corn tortilla. While you can make it fresh at home, for convenience, you can typically find it precooked at the grocery stores. I picked mine up at Trader Joe’s in the pasta and tomato sauce section. With it being made from corn, it is naturally gluten-free for those who have a gluten intolerance. Aside from being gluten-free, it is fairly low in calories – this entire crust is only 300 calories, making it a great choice for those seeking a healthier pizza option!

While we’re talking about foods you may or may not be familiar with, Kabocha squash is a winter squash that seems to be a bit less known than the typically acorn or butternut squash, but it is quickly growing in both popularity and availability.  If this is your first time hearing {or rather reading} about Kabocha squash, it is a popular Japanese winter squash, also known as a Japanese pumpkin, and resembles the taste of butternut squash, but a bit sweeter. If you aren’t able to locate it at your typical grocery store, check the local farmers market or a Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joes, or other fresh food market in your area.

Okay, now that we’ve touched on a few of the ingredients in this recipe – let’s talk texture and flavor! I loved the flavor of this polenta pizza. I should mention that this was my first time to eat or experiment with polenta – I truly had no idea what to expect. As far as texture and how the crust held up, it did better than many flourless crusts I’ve tried in the past. However, while it was hot and fresh out of the oven, we still had to eat it with a fork. Once it cooled, the crust firmed up a bit and we could pit it up with out hands…but I like my pizza hot, so I was happy to eat it with a fork.

As for the flavor, this pizza is the perfect blend of sweet and savory. I mentioned briefly above that the kabocha squash is inherently sweet; its natural sweetness pairs beautifully with the bold chipotle pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic, creating a rich and intense sauce. The sauce is then complimented by the slightly sweet polenta base and caramelized onions, only to be countered {in the best of ways} with the earthiness of the kale and sage, and the robust smooth, yet sharp, flavor of the cheddar cheese. In the end, it’s a unique fusion of flavors, not to be missed!

For other veggie-loaded pizza ideas, check out the recipes below:

Health Benefits of Kabocha Squash:

Health Benefits of Kale:

Polenta Pizza with Kabocha Squash and Kale
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This Polenta Pizza with Kabocha Squash and Kale perfectly blends sweet and savory, for a robust flavor you don't want to miss!
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Pizza
Serves: 8 pieces
  • 1 package trader Joes Polenta
  • ½ tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1.5 cups roasted kabocha squash, mashed (acorn or butternut would work as well)
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 ounce lite sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 7 ounces lite sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • Fresh Sage, finely chopped, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, prep baking sheet with coconut oil cooking spray {or nonstick cooking spray of choice}.
  2. Cut kabocha squash in half, remove seeds, and cook each side, flesh down, for 40-45 minutes or until flesh is fully cooked and very soft.
  3. Meanwhile, add sliced onions, ½ tbsp coconut oil, and 1 tbsp coconut sugar to medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat until onions are caramelized, approx 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Once squash has baked, lower heat to 375 degrees.
  5. Spray round pizza pan with coconut oil cooking spray.
  6. Add polenta and melted coconut oil to bowl and mix until well combined and polenta is more pliable so it spreads into pizza crust. Spread the polenta mixture out on the pan until it is approx ⅓ inch thick and evenly covers the round pan.
  7. Once the onions have caramelized, remove from pan and set aside. Add kale to same pan you used for the onion, spray lightly with coconut oil cooking spray and cook 4-5 minutes over medium heat, or until kale is wilted.
  8. Meanwhile, add roasted squash, tomato sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, chipotle pepper, and 1 ounce sharp cheddar cheese to NutriBullet or food processor and process until a smooth creamy consistency is reached.
  9. While the onions caramelize and you make the sauce, bake the polenta crust for 15 minutes. Remove and spread kabocha squash sauce, leaving a border around the edge, then top with three quarters of the shredded cheese, reserving a little for the top. Add the kale, caramelized onions, and top with the last quarter of shredded cheese. Bake 7-8 minutes or until cheese has melted. Remove from oven and top with fresh sage, if desired.
The crust will firm up a little more once the pizza has cooled, but it’s wonderful hot and fresh, you’ll likely need to eat it with a fork.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 piece Calories: 167 Fat: 6.2 Saturated fat: 4.1 Unsaturated fat: .3 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 16.5 Sugar: 3.1 Sodium: 351 Fiber: 3.5 Protein: 9.6 Cholesterol: 10

Nutrition info for Kabocha Squash taken from BenefitOf.net. 

Nutrition info for Kale taken from AuthorityNutrition.com.