For this month’s Recipe Redux Challenge we were asked to recreate a favorite meal we had on vacation into a healthier version. If you read my blog post The Best Food I Ate in Boston, you may recall the brick oven pizza in the North End I raved about. Gluten-free, pesto, and topped with cheese. Not the most unhealthy endeavor, but I knew I could make it healthier. Just as tasty? That would be the real challenge!
Here’s How I Tackled My Recreated Healthier Pizza
Healthier Pesto. I created a Kale Apple Walnut Pesto for this pizza. Most of us don’t eat enough kale, a super healthy green full of Vitamins A and C and minerals, like Calcium. I wanted to see if I could make kale more attractive to non-kale eaters out there. Walnuts are considered one of the healthiest nuts (as of this writing) because they are full of Omega 3s, which support healthy cholesterol, brain and nervous system functions.
Apples? They add a ton of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and they make it taste great! The Umeboshi Plum Vinegar is a macrobiotic trick I learned when I studied with macrobiotic chefs to add a salty flavor without adding cheese. Keeps calories and fat down. It’s a strong flavor – you don’t need much.
Healthier Crust. I based this recipe off a traditional pizza crust recipe, but I created a whole grain spelt crust. Whole grain flour is higher in fiber and spelt, a close cousin to wheat, works quite similar to it, but is far less processed. It’s often tolerated by those with a wheat allergy or intolerance (myself included!) and it’s packed with minerals and vitamins.
Plus, I decreased the olive oil and added soy milk to reduce the fat. Even though olive oil a good fat, I still wanted less of it.
Healthier Cheese. I used mostly rice cheese (mozzarella flavor) in this pizza, and you certainly could make this pizza vegan and use all rice cheese. Because I can eat a little goat cheese, I added a small amount for the great flavor. Softer cheeses, like goat cheese, are lower in fat than hard cheeses. Woo-hoo!
More Veggies. I topped this pizza with more veggies. That means more fiber and more overall goodness for you!
Here’s My Healthier Veggie Pizza Recipe:
- ½ cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 cups whole spelt flour, plus more for kneading/rolling out
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl
- 1½ tbsp unsweetened non dairy milk (soy, rice, almond)
- 1 tsp raw honey
- ¼ cup Kale Pesto (link to recipe above)
- 4 ounces rice cheese mozzarella
- 2 ounces goat cheese (optional, can keep it vegan with just the rice cheese)
- ½ cup diced tomatoes
- ½ cup diced broccoli
- ½ cup greens (spinach or kale)
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- ⅓ cup chopped red pepper
- 2 large cloves chopped garlic
- drizzle of olive oil
- pinch sea salt
- Mix the warm water and yeast in a small bowl to blend. Let stand until the yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.
- Mix the flour and salt in a stand mixer or food processor to blend.
- Blend in the oil, soy milk, and honey.
- With the mixer/machine running, add the yeast mixture and blend just until the dough forms.
- If using a stand mixer use the dough hook and knead the dough for 1-2 minutes. If using a food processor, turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute.
- Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat with the oil.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draft-free area until the dough doubles in volume, about 1 hour.
- Punch the down dough and form into ball. The dough can be used immediately or stored airtight in the refrigerator for 1 day.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Spray a fry pan with a small amount of oil and saute the onion, pepper, garlic, and broccoli until just golden. Season with a pinch of sea salt and pepper while cooking. (This step is optional. You can put the veggies on raw. This step pulls a little more flavor out of the veggies.)
- Spread pizza crust onto a 13"-16" pizza dish, depending how thick or thin you like your pizza.
- Spread pesto on pizza crust.
- Spread half of rice cheese onto pesto.
- Spread onion, broccoli, peppers, and garlic.
- Spread tomatoes and greens.
- Top with goat cheese and rest of rice cheese.
- Drizzle with slight amount of extra virgin olive oil and pinch of sea salt.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 17-20 minutes or until light brown.
This is what the dough looks like after is rises:
If you choose to saute the veggies, here’s what they look like:
What should you do with the rest of that head of delicious kale?
Try my Lemon Garlic Kale Recipe!