yes, the vicious rumors are true. i am part of the food porn generation. i enjoy barraging my social media community with pictures of the tasty things i eat, cook and enjoy. some people are simply sick of us food-porners, and justifiably so. over-saturation is common in a world where some will post a picture of the chicken tenders they just microwaved if enough people will click that “like” button. but food porn serves a mighty purpose.
in a universe where millions of recipes are just a google search away, and where healthy eating is constantly being thrust upon us, home chefs are experimenting with age-old flavors and attempting to insert a mindfulness of what we put into our bodies. i am not going to jump on the gluten-free bandwagon, for that is a rant better saved for another time (spoiler alert: moderation is key, people. in everything). i will, however, be honest in saying that i have played around with various types of flours and sweeteners in order to make baking a less guilty pleasure. the results have spanned from successful parsnip muffins which wowed even my fellow food snobs, to impenetrable flax seed cookies which i could have used to knock squirrels off of my bird feeders.
let’s get down to the mission at hand: pizza. the perfect meal for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or midnight snack. pizzas can be casual or dressed to the nines. the topping combinations are only limited to your own creative genius. already, you are drooling just thinking about the heavenly union of melting cheese, tangy tomatoes and airy dough. some prefer a wafer-thin crust that crackles with every bite. some like a crust with some chew that they can fold into a pizza-taco. i am not going to lie to you, friends: these things can not be mimicked without the empty calories of pure white flour.
i have yet to attempt a crust with the myriad of gluten-free flour options, and i can only assume that some of them are passable as they have been in my many baking adventures. but i was looking for easy, and there is not a dough out there that fits that description. through the powers of facebook sharing, i have found a wholesome substitute that is a cinch to prepare and is delicious in its own right. i have seen so many attempts with pureed cauliflower that i have been discouraged from trying those recipes. behold the powers of the super-grain known as quinoa.
i am not going to bore you with the facts around this flexible little grain. wikipedia can surely fill you in on its multitude of benefits in a balanced diet. i will wholeheartedly admit that the reason i gave this recipe a shot is because it involves 4 ingredients, all of which are readily available in my kitchen:
Quinoa Pizza Crust
Makes: One 9-inch pizza crust
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 cup water, plus more for soaking quinoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
i doubled the recipe because i always plan for leftovers. i used a mixture of regular and red quinoa, so my crusts turned out more purplish than golden brown. just a matter of aesthetics. i also quadrupled the salt (1 teaspoon total in my double batch) because under-seasoning is a crime, and quinoa truly has no flavor on its own outside of a slight nuttiness.
making the batter was a breeze. soak the quinoa in a large bowl of water overnight. drain the quinoa and rinse thoroughly. i recommend a mesh sieve or cheesecloth for this process as the tiny grains will fall right through your colander. not that i had this problem, i swear. after rinsing, put the quinoa, water, baking powder and salt into a food processor or blender (goddess bless my ninja), and puree the ever-loving bejeezus out of it until it looks creamy. it will not form a dough, which is why i called it a batter, duh.
line two 9 inch pie pans with parchment after spraying them with cooking spray so the parchment sticks. i was supposed to then spray the parchment with more cooking spray, but i totally forgot to do this and the crusts did not stick at all. but you might want to follow this step of the recipe, just in case. then evenly distribute the batter to the two pans and smooth them out to the edges.
bake the crusts for 15 minutes at 425. remove the parchment and flip the crusts over into the bare pie pans. bake another 10 minutes, or until the edges meet your desired level of crispiness.
the toppings are where you get to go crazy. i made a quick pizza sauce with tomato paste, tons of garlic and herbs from my garden. one crust i topped simply with fresh mozzarella. the other i topped with mozzarella, turkey pepperoni and sliced sungold cherry tomatoes from a local farmer’s market.
return those beauties to the oven for another 10 minutes.
now i was a dummy and baked the pizzas with fresh basil on top. rookie move: the basil burns up in a heartbeat. learn from my mistake and add the fresh basil after the final round of baking.
all in all, i am chalking this recipe up to a major win. the crusts were crispy on the edges, but chewy on the inside with a mysterious “yeasty” flavor that perfectly mimicked traditional pizza dough. they were not grainy at all, or dried out like cardboard, as i expected they would be, so that was a pleasant surprise. no, you are not going to fool your kids, or your suspicious friends, into thinking that you ordered delivery pizza: there is a lack of air pockets that may disappoint most pizza connoisseurs and the density level is higher than some may prefer, but as far as healthy pizza options go, this recipe is bangin’.
i am going to experiment further with this recipe by adding other seasonings to the batter. i was thinking about cumin and turmeric for a mexican pizza. the topping options are limitless. perhaps some pesto and goat cheese, or alfredo sauce with shrimp and peppers. i also want to try this batter in smaller forms so that they can be used for individual hors d’ouvres. i think the crusts would freeze well, so keeping them on hand for quick meals would be a great idea. i am constantly struggling with the task of cooking for one, so i plan to make a batch to keep in the freezer for when time is limited.
well, kiddies, i hope you like my newest blog section which i am going to title “let’s pretend…” i am going to take this blog to new levels: travel, photography, poetry, literature review. just like these tasty pizza crusts, the sky’s the limit and i’ve never been afraid of heights.