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The New Pizza Party

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Pizza-Party

Creative, gluten-free crusts everyone can enjoy, plus an inspired array of nutritious toppings.

For most of us, pizza is a guilty pleasure, something we order up and scarf down when no one is looking. It’s time to change all that. There’s no reason pizza can’t taste great and count as a “real” meal.

In the next few pages, you’ll find a variety of pizza crusts — all gloriously gluten-free — and an array of fresh, fun toppings to mix and match.

These pizzas might take a little longer to prep, but they’re worth it.

Cauliflower-Parmesan Crust With Bacon, Arugula, and Tomato

Compatible with most savory pizza toppings, this delicate crust is best made into personal-size pizzas. The BLT-inspired topping here uses fresh arugula to zing things up.

Cauliflower Crust

Makes four 6-inch pizzas

Preparation time: 45 to 60 minutes

Crust

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Toppings

  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (1 pint) cherry tomatoes
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 cups baby arugula or spinach

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the crust: Steam the cauliflower until tender. Cool and then pulse in a food processor until it resembles couscous. Pour the cauliflower into a strainer, then press out the excess moisture. Mix the cauliflower with the remaining crust ingredients. Divide into four mounds and press each into a 6-inch circle on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit about 15 minutes.

Prepare the toppings: Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil, and roast the tomatoes in the oven until they burst, about 15 minutes. Toss the tomatoes with the bacon, and season with salt and pepper. Top each pizza crust with the tomato-bacon mixture, mozzarella, and basil. Bake until the cheese is melted and then dress with a handful of arugula or spinach.

Mochi Crust With Pear, Prosciutto, and Pecan

Traditional mochi, which is glutinous rice, creates a thick crust that is crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside. (This preparation makes it thin and crispy.) Adding pears to a pizza may seem unusual, but the fruit’s sweetness pairs wonderfully with the salty ham. Avoid overloading the delicate mochi crust. 

Mochi Crust

 

Makes four 6-inch pizzas

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Crust

  • 1 block (12.5-oz.) plain brown rice mochi (found in the refrigerated section of Asian markets and most natural markets)
  • 1 tbs. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (if your herb seasoning is salt-free)
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Toppings

  • 2 ripe Anjou pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 slices prosciutto, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Make the crust: Coarsely grate the block of mochi and toss with the seasonings and the warm water. Drizzle a parchment-lined sheet pan with the olive oil. Divide the mochi mixture into four equal portions and press into 6-inch circles. Bake the crusts until lightly browned on the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the toppings and bake until the prosciutto and pecans are toasted.

 

Potato Crust With Onion, Mushroom, Anchovy, and Olive

Savory and satisfying, pissaladière is a classic southern French pizzalike tart made with caramelized onions, garlic, anchovies, olives — and no cheese! We throw mushrooms into the mix here. This hearty, simple crust is terrific with full-flavored toppings.

Potato Crust

Makes four 6-inch pizzas

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Crust

  • 2 to 3 medium russet potatoes, sliced to 1/16-inch thickness with a mandoline
  • 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Toppings

  • 1 tbs. ghee or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 sprig fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 large portabella mushroom cap, diced, about 1 cup
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup halved pitted olives (a mixture of kalamata and spicy green olives)
  • 16 anchovy fillets

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Make the crust: Place the potato slices in a bowl of cold water and soak for about five minutes. Drizzle a parchment-lined sheet pan with the olive oil. Drain the potatoes, pat dry, and toss with salt, pepper, and cheese. Then arrange into four 6-inch rounds on the prepared sheet pan. (The potato circles will likely need to be slightly overlapped to make each of the rounds.) Bake until just golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Prepare the toppings: Heat the ghee in a large cast-iron skillet. Add the onions and the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to turn golden, then add the thyme and garlic. While the onions are caramelizing, sauté the mushrooms in the teaspoon of olive oil in a separate pan until soft. Continue to cook the onions until they are well caramelized, which can take about 20 to 30 minutes. When the onions are deep golden and fragrant, remove from heat and spread over the fully baked pizza crusts. Top with mushrooms, olives, and anchovies. Bake until toppings are warmed through.

Socca Crust With Swiss Chard, Chorizo, and Egg

Socca is a kind of crepe made with chickpea flour. It makes a delightfully delicate pizza crust. Try adding chopped herbs or spices to the batter before baking. It’s an Italian tradition to crack an egg onto a pizza and bake until it is just slightly set. When you cut into the pizza, the liquid yolk runs onto the crust and adds to the flavor.

Socca Crust

Makes about four 8- to 10-inch pizzas

Preparation time: 40 minutes plus at least one hour to let batter rest

Crust

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tbs. to oil the pan
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Toppings

  • 1 lb. raw ground chorizo sausage
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, washed, tough stems removed, and coarsely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Make the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk all the ingredients together. So the flour can absorb the water, let the mixture rest covered on the counter at least one hour if you’re using the crust that same day (and up to two days in the refrigerator). Heat an 8- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle with some of the reserved olive oil. Pour in 1/2 cup of the batter and swirl to evenly coat the pan. Cook the socca until the edges are dry, then gently flip to cook the other side. Repeat three more times with additional batter. Place the four socca crusts onto baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare the toppings: Crumble the sausage onto a baking sheet and bake until it is cooked through. Toss the Swiss chard onto the baking sheet with the chorizo and bake another five minutes to wilt the greens. Arrange the greens and chorizo on the pizza crusts, creating a slight divot in the center for the egg. Top each pizza with a cracked egg, and bake for about 10 minutes or until the egg is just set.

Polenta Crust With Pesto, Brussels Sprouts, and Roasted Red Pepper

This simple-but-hearty polenta crust, adapted from Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s The Italian Country Table, is a cinch using Kasper’s double-boiler technique.  

Polenta

Makes one 9-x-13-inch pizza

Preparation time: 1 hour 40 minutes plus at least 2 hours to let crust set up (ideally overnight)

Crust

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Toppings

  • 1 cup shelled edamame (if using frozen edamame, thaw first)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 to 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup sliced roasted bell pepper

Make the crust: Fill a 6-quart pot halfway with water, and bring to a simmer. Place the cornmeal in an 8-quart stainless-steel bowl, and whisk in the 3 cups of boiling water until smooth. Stir in the salt. Seal the bowl with aluminum foil, and set it over the pot of simmering water. Cook for a total of 90 minutes: During the first 20 minutes, stir several times; then stir every 20 to 30 minutes. (Replenish simmering water, if necessary.) Spread polenta into an oiled 9-x-13-inch pan, and refrigerate until chilled (or up to five days). When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Make the pesto topping: Blend the first six ingredients together in a food processor until smooth, and use to top the pizza along with the other ingredients. Bake until toppings are warmed through.

WEB EXTRA!

Quick and Easy Toppings

Looking for something less complicated? Here are five ideas to get dinner on the table fast.

Pizza Topppings

Garlic and Olive Oil: For a lighter pizza, skip the traditional tomato-based pizza sauce and simply brush the crust with extra-virgin olive oil flavored with crushed garlic and herbs. Top with veggies, meats, or cheeses.

Roasted Veggies: Roasted vegetables make for easy pizza toppings. Leftover roasted chopped cauliflower, shaved Brussels sprouts, whole cherry tomatoes, or cubed squash, beets, carrots, or even potatoes all work well.

Tossed Salad: For a novel pizza-salad combo, top your freshly baked pizza with greens tossed in a vinaigrette. The greens — arugula is always a good bet, but you can try spinach, kale, and shaved Brussels sprouts as well —add a fresh finish.

Spreads: Smear store-bought or homemade spreads — tapenade, pesto, caponata, and ratatouille are all wonderful — onto the pizza crust, sprinkle with a little grated cheese, and bake.

Leftovers: Pizza can be a great way to stretch leftovers. Try barbecue chicken, meatballs and red sauce, or any tidbits of meat, veggies, and sauce you have in the refrigerator.

All recipes were created by Betsy Nelson (a.k.a. “That Food Girl”), a Minneapolis-based food stylist and recipe developer.

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