From Scratch: A vegetable pizza for meat-lovers
I can remember when Meatless Monday signaled sacrifice. I would struggle to come up with one dish that didn’t taste like something I was doing as penance for the rest of the week.
Then, two years ago, I had a brush with breast cancer. Overnight, my view of healthy eating became much more important.
Over the next two years, I collected cookbooks that followed this directive, and, because I love to cook and lack the discipline to live on a diet of raw food, I looked for ways to transform my favorite dishes into healthy, but satisfying, alternatives.
The experience was so gratifying that now at least four out of seven dinners per week are vegetarian, and three meals allow my carnivore flag to fly.
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Today’s recipe is an example of that transformation.
I love pizza. My favorite is a Chicago-style deep dish with sausage and mushrooms and more cheese by weight than all other ingredients. And yes, once a month, I still make that pizza, have a slice and then freeze the rest.
This pizza is topped with mushrooms, caramelized onions and goat cheese. From my cursory google search, the health benefits of mushrooms include antioxidant selenium and vitamin D; onions include vitamin C and chromium. Both mushrooms and onions have been linked to cancer fighting anti-inflammatories, lowered cholesterol and heart health.
If you are used to eating a meat-lovers pizza, I think you’ll find this recipe to be a good place to start. The brown Cremini mushrooms have a meaty texture. The caramelized onions add a rustic sweetness that reminds us of coal-fired pizzas and grilled foods and provides a nice counterpoint to the sharp tang of the goat cheese. Best of all, it can be assembled, baked and brought to the table quicker than you can call for delivery. I challenge you to try it and tell me if isn’t as satisfying as your usual take-out pizza.
For the dough
I like to make my own pizza dough, and, after you’ve done it few times, you’ll do the same. There are few ingredients, and it’s fun. You can also buy pre-made dough in the deli section of many grocery stores.
Here’s my basic recipe:
1 1/2 cups warm water: Stir in 2 1/2 teaspoons (or 1 packet) dry yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar, mix well and let proof for a few minutes until the water becomes cloudy and begins to bubble. This should take about 45 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, many grocery stores carry a fast-acting yeast specifically for pizza dough, which will allow the dough to be ready in 5 minutes.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl:
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal (This addition is optional, but it gives the dough a nice texture)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Gradually pour the water into the flour mixture, stirring until you’ve added enough liquid to create a sticky dough. Pour a tablespoon of oil over the dough and coat, so the dough doesn’t dry out. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean dishtowel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled. Then, gently stretch the dough out until it resembles a large rectangle which will fill most of a standard cookie sheet. I like to place my dough on parchment paper, so I don’t have to worry about it sticking to my well worn cookie sheets.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the pizza topping
4 onions sliced into thin-medium rounds will be gently and slowly caramelized in 2 tablespoons of butter and oil over a medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning. A pinch of sugar will help the caramelization process.
1 pint of Cremini mushrooms (or mushrooms of your choice) will be thinly sliced and join the onions to be sautéed in the butter.
Salt and pepper to taste.
When they are cooked, add them to the top of the pizza dough, sprinkle the pizza with crumbles of your favorite goat cheese (an herbed goat cheese would be nice here)
Bake for 10-13 minutes depending on how well done you like the crust.
A nice finishing touch is to drizzle a balsamic glaze over the top of the pizza.
Serve with a salad and a heart-healthy glass of red wine.
This Week’s Book Recommendation
“Home Cooked — Essential Recipes for a New Way to Cook,” by Anya Fernald
If you care about where your food comes from, you should meet Anya Fernald or at least read her new cookbook. She is one of the pioneers of the slow food and sustainable food movement, and she is now the CEO of Belcampo, a 200-acre cattle farm and meat processor in Northern California.
“Home Cooked” lives up to its name. Everything from bone broth, to eggs in tomato sauce, to almond torta are beautifully photographed and lovingly described in accessible recipes.
Anya’s familiarity with meat brings us braised tripe, grilled pork belly with anchovies and several recipes for homemade sausage.
Vegetarians will also find much to love here with eggplant caponata, torta di verdure made with whatever greens look the best at the farmer’s market, blackened carrots or squash and faro risotto.
I highly recommend this book for those who love to cook from scratch and enjoy preparing food that allows the ingredients to be the star.
I received this cookbook for free from bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for an honest review.
Please leave a comment or send me an email if there is a recipe you’d like me to try.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson writes weekly food and religion columns for the Summit Daily News and is the author of 10 books. You can find her at http://www.suzanneelizabeths.com.
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