‘Healthy’ isn’t a word that we normally associate with pizza. That’s because most pizzas consist of a white flour base, a thin layer of tomato sauce, a token vegetable or two (if you’re lucky) and lashings of cheese. Some pizzas have 2, 3 or 4 different cheeses piled on top. And it’s all this cheese that makes pizzas so calorie intensive.
I don’t normally look at the calorie content of food but I was intrigued to find out how many calories were in the goats cheese pizza that I used to eat on a Friday night. 1/3 of the pizza contains 383 calories, and I’m pretty sure I used to eat the whole pizza myself. That’s a wopping 1149 calories! Add on a beer or two and that’s a serious amount of calories consumed in one evening.
Within six months of transitioning to a whole-food plant-based diet at home, I’d lost 3/4 stone in weight. I’m convinced that this weight loss was down to cutting out cheese.
We still eat pizzas on a weekly basis, but we choose to make them at home. We prepare a wholewheat crust, use sun-dried tomato paste or basil pesto for the base and pile them high with veggies. We don’t add any dairy or vegan substitute cheeses because, for us, the pizza doesn’t need it. It is full of flavour and feels complete as it is, without the need for a layer of fat melted on top.
Lil’ L and M love our home-made pizzas and much prefer them to shop-bought and restaurant pizzas. Our home-made ‘no cheese’ pizzas have also had great feedback from friends. Lil’ L’s best friend is a particularly big fan and asked me if I had posted the recipe yet. After a quick check, I realised that I’ve posted photos, but never actually got round to posting the recipe. It’s time to put that right!
The recipe I’m going to share today is one of our all-time favourites – ‘Mediterranean Deep Crust Pizza‘. This pizza tastes great served both hot and cold, and it stores very well too. I often make two pizzas at the same time, and the second pizza is used for lunchboxes.
Makes: 1 deep crust pizza (serves 2-3) (I tend to double the recipe and make 2 pizzas at the same time)
Hands on time: 20 minutes Resting time: 60 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes Ready in: 1 hr 35 minutes
½ tsp fast action yeast
210g / 7½ oz / 1½ cups fine wholemeal or chapatti flour
90g / 3 oz / ½ cup fine semolina
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
170ml / 5¾ oz / scant ¾ cup lukewarm water
1 TBSP olive oil
3-4 TBSP sun-dried tomato paste (or basil pesto)
1 small red onion, sliced
¼ medium courgette (zucchini), quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
½ medium bell pepper, sliced (use a mix of red, orange or yellow pepper pieces for extra colour)
1-2 mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 TBSP pine nuts
Sprinkling of cashew ‘parmesan’ or nutritional yeast*
1 tsp dried oregano
Olive oil for drizzling (herb, garlic or chilli infused olive oils are great)
*Cashew ‘parmesan’: Grind together ¼ cup cashews and 3 TBSP nutritional yeast. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
To make the dough by hand: Place the flour, semolina, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil and water. Stir with a fork until it starts to come together, then work into a soft dough with your hands. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until you have a smooth, springy dough.
Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour or so, until it has doubled in size. If the house isn’t warm enough, put the dough in an oven proof bowl, cover with oiled foil and place in the oven at 40C / 90F.
When ready to prepare the pizza, preheat the oven to 220C (200 fan) / 425F / Gas 7.
Tip the dough onto a surface lightly dusted with flour and semolina. Knock out the air, then roll into a circle about 25cm / 10” in diameter. Transfer to a lightly oiled pizza tray or non-stick baking sheet. Spread the tomato paste over the dough and add the toppings. Be generous with the veggies as they shrink on cooking. Sprinkle on the nuts, oregano, cashew ‘parmesan’/ nutritional yeast and a light drizzle of oil. Place in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, until the centre of the base is cooked through.
This pizza is best served straight from the oven. We love to serve it with a side dish of salad leaves or sweet potato fries and crispy kale. It can also be eaten cold and any leftovers make a great addition to lunch boxes. It will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or for weeks in the freezer.
When Lil’ L was small, he didn’t like chunky vegetables, so I used to chop them very fine and sprinkle them on his pizza.
We ended up calling this the ‘Confetti Pizza’. Here’s how it looked with a pesto base:
And with a sun-dried tomato base:
Now that he’s older, he much prefers his veggies big and chunky 🙂
I’d love to rescue the pizza from the clutches of the junk food industry and give it the healthy status it deserves. Will you join me?
Do you already make your own ‘healthy’ pizzas? If so, I’d love to hear how you make them. If you’ve posted any recipes, please do link up below.
Have a great weekend everyone ♥ xx