Massachusetts is currently in a state of emergency (cue Jay Z song here) with all the rain and flooding we have been having. And though I would much rather stay out of this wet mess, a friend from New York is in town (yes, another friend 🙂 ) and I cannot say “no” to a meet up and a drink! As long as its indoors.
I have a confession: I don’t believe that all pizza is bad for you. If you think about it, a slice of pizza can contain all of nature’s food groups, along with a wealth of vitamins and nutrients. If you make the right pizza making decisions: a thin, whole grain crust, lighter cheese, and a ton of vegetables. A pizza, in my eyes, can be a health nuts best friend.
The problem is that we usually think of pizza as over-the-top and grease filled indulgence. Of course you want to dab the cheese with your napkin. Of course you cannot see the tomato sauce under the layers. Of course the crust is also cheese filled. And of course this is all processed by a fast food joint or frozen bakery. I obviously am aware that amazing, home made pizza restaurants exist, but the average person does not order from there on a Friday night. But I believe that if, instead of ordering pizza, America made their pizza on “pizza night” we would be taking a step towards making a healthier, Western diet.
Tonight’s pizza is my representation of that philosophy. Much to Z’s chagrin, who would (as usual) prefer his slice with meatballs or some Italian smoked something. As I was layering on the vegetables I got the usual question of “where’s the meat?”. But one taste of this baby, and I felt like I was in a real, gourmet Italian pizzeria. And I think Z agreed.
Garden Pizza with Shaved Manchego Cheese
1 serving of pizza dough (we use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Crust)
1 serving of Z’s homemade pizza sauce
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 zucchini, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
1.5 cups light mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 ounce Manchego cheese
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper
Fresh cilantro to garnish
Preheat the oven to 450*
Make your pizza dough and press out thinly in a rectangular baking pan. Put in the oven for 15 minutes.
In a frying pan, add the onion, garlic, and red pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Add the oregano, basil, and salt. When the vegetables have begun to soften, add the zucchini and cook for 3-5 minutes. Don’t over cook them, zucchini cooks quickly!
Spread the pizza sauce over the crust, then a layer of mozzarella cheese and then the vegetables. Gently shave some Manchego cheese over the top.
Put in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese bubbles and the vegetables have begin to brown.
Serve with some more Manchego cheese and fresh cilantro. Bask in the vegetable goodness.
Taking a bite of this was really like biting into a garden. The vegetables maintained their crunch, while stir frying them before allowed their flavors to blend and enhance each other. The crust was deliciously thin and crispy; I am a huge advocate of baking your crust before putting the toppings on. No more soggy crust for me! The cilantro and Manchego added the last bang of fresh flavor. A medley of delicious, healthy ingredients. In addition, I cannot say how much fun I have making pizza at home. Deciding your toppings, adding some chili flakes here, maybe some extra garlic powder, the experience of making this meal is so enjoyable and easy for such an amazing outcome.
And on a last note: there is nothing like red peppers on a pizza. 🙂
What are your favorite pizza toppings? Do you ever make pizza at home?