Recipe: Pizza Gialla (Southern Italian Cornbread With Cheese and Peperoncini)

From Mediterranean Hot and Spicy.

This yellow pizza, as its name implies, is a savory gluten-free cake that is traditionally added to vegetable and greens soups in the south of Italy. Unlike American cornbreads here the cornmeal cooks in milk until almost as thick as polenta, and then it is mixed with cheese, eggs, and hot peppers. This hearty cornbread is good on its own, but I also like to serve it with grilled vegetables. Dice any leftover bread, dry it in a low oven, and keep in an air-tight bag to add to vegetable or bean soups, as Italians do, or mix with yogurt for a hearty breakfast.

Serves 6 to 8

• 1 quart whole milk
    • 7 ounces coarse stone-ground yellow cornmeal or polenta
    • ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
    • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to drizzle on the bread
    • 1 pound mixed grated cheeses (for example 1/4 pound pecorino or hard myzithra, 1/4 pound cheddar and 1/2 pound Greek manouri, ricotta salata or mozzarella, or any combination of spicy and sweet cheeses you like)
    • 3 to 4 dried peperoncini or chile de Arbol, thinly sliced or chopped with scissors
    • 5 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
    • 1 cup minced smoky and spicy sausage (optional)

Pour the milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat. Sprinkle the cornmeal over the milk and cook stirring for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Add the olive oil to the cornmeal mixture and cook, stirring for another five minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheeses, the peppers, and the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring to incorporate fully. If you like, stir in the minced sausage.

Beat the egg whites to form soft peaks. Carefully fold in the cornmeal mixture with a spatula.

Line a round deep 12-inch pan with parchment paper, brush with oil, and pour in the cornmeal batter. Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes, until deep golden and firm. Let cool for 10 minutes and cut pieces to serve warm or at room temperature.

To read Aglaia's story about cornbread in Greece and Italy, click here.