Spring Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pizza

Spring Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pizza

My black car is officially yellow, so it’s time to break out the asparagus recipes, starting with this spring asparagus and goat cheese pizza! While I am usually adamantly pro-tomato sauce on pizza, I love this pie topped with garlic oil, two cheeses, crisp-tender asparagus and thin slices of Yukon gold potatoes. Don’t be skeptical of potatoes on pizza - the crispy rounds of potato are so good! And as I’m writing this, I’m realizing proscuitto or bacon would be a very welcome addition.

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Pumpkin, Shiitake and Gruyere Pizza with Trader Joe's Cauliflower Crust

Pumpkin, Shiitake and Gruyere Pizza with Trader Joe's Cauliflower Crust

Have you tried Trader Joe's cauliflower frozen cauliflower crust? Make this fall inspired pumpkin, shiitake and gruyere pizza! It's a tasty vegetarian meal, and gluten free too! Made with a canned pumpkin sauce then topped with chewy shiitakes and aged gruyere. 

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Grilled Naan Pizza with Kale Pesto, Heirloom Tomatoes and Burrata

Grilled Naan Pizza with Kale Pesto, Heirloom Tomatoes and Burrata

This recipe for grilled naan pizza with kale pesto, heirloom tomatoes and burrata cheese is my favorite quick and easy recipe for summer! Naan makes such a simple and tasty crust and perfectly ripe summer tomatoes are delicious paired with creamy burrata cheese. 

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Caesar Salad Pita Pizza with Olive Caesar Dressing

Caesar salad pita pizzas combine two Italian restaurant favorites by topping a whole grain pita pizza with Caesar salad and dressing made with California ripe olives. 

“I received free samples of California Ripe Olives mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Ripe Olives and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

As someone who is endlessly fascinated by other cultures cuisine, you know the Mediterranean diet is something I totally get behind. Delicious food? Check. Focus on plants? Check. All the healthy fats? Double check.

Not only that, but Mediterranean food is approachable and enjoyed by most people. I mean, what kind of sick person doesn’t like Italian food? Not someone I want to be associated with! So if that's you, go click that little red circle in the upper left corner of your screen.

The only problem with the Mediterranean diet is that our Americanized version of it is very different from the real Mediterranean diet. Yes, I’m sorry to say when we talk about a Mediterranean diet, we’re not referring to the menu at Olive Garden. Real Mediterranean food is spaghetti in clam sauce, polenta casseroles with local greens and feta, and stuffed vegetables with a creamy tahini sauce. Oh, and lots and lots of olives.

There’s always talk of what specific factor in the Mediterranean diet makes it so healthy. Some say it’s the red wine (I like these people). Others claim it’s the fresh, local greens. Still others think it's the emphasis on plants over meat. Most likely, it’s a combination of factors that makes the Mediterranean diet so healthy. But I suppose if you forced me to choose one thing, I’d say it's the olives.

  • California ripe olives are a rich source of monounsaturated fats, the kind that raises the good cholesterol and lowers the bad.
  • Black olives contain antioxidant vitamin E (.25 mg) which is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
  • 1 cup of black olives contains 25% daily value iron, important for the prevention of anemia.
  • Olives contain a unique set of pytonutrients. One called oleuropein is found exclusively in olives. It's been shown to reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and act as an antioxidant.

This pita pizza salad combines two of the most familiar items on an Italian food menu and does it in a much healthier way. It's kind of a healthier take on the Macaroni Grill version of Italian food. I love to use whole grain pitas as an easy pizza base. No, it’s not the same thing as a freshly baked crust, but you know what? It works! To make a lightened Caesar dressing, I used plain yogurt and actual olives versus olive oil, which provide a similar creamy texture, flavor and nutrients with less calories. This recipe makes a little extra, so I saved the rest to make a big kale Caesar salad with hard boiled eggs and roasted potatoes to use up some food we had in the house before going on vacation.

Caesar Salad Pita Pizza with Olive Caesar Dressing

Ingredients

Olive Caesar Dressing: 

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plain organic yogurt
  • 1/4 cup California ripe olives
  • 1 anchovy (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped and washed
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup whole California ripe olives
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Shaved parmesan (optional)

Pizza:

  • 4 whole grain pita breads
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 ounces parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. First, make the dressing. Place garlic clove in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until well combined. Season with plenty of black pepper (it should have enough salt).
  2. Next, make the pizzas. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine olive oil and garlic in a small bowl. Brush mixture lightly over pita breads. Sprinkle pitas with parmesan cheese. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is lightly toasted.
  3. While pizza is baking, toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup dressing and toss to coat.
  4. Top pita with salad and serve with more dressing.

More Mediterranean recipes featuring black olives:

Spaghetti with Tempeh Sausage Marinara, Artichokes and Olives
Spaghetti with Tempeh Sausage Marinara, Artichokes and Olives
Greek Microgreen Salad
Greek Microgreen Salad
Zucchini Fritters in Tomato Olive Sauce
Zucchini Fritters in Tomato Olive Sauce

Millet and Quinoa Crust Pizza with Pesto, Spinach and Grilled Squash

This gluten free millet and quinoa crust pizza is made with soaked whole grains and topped with pesto, spinach, grilled squash and scallions. 

For me, cooking is more than a chore or the means to produce something yummy to eat - it's a creative expression. Food is art, and not just for experienced restaurant chefs. Combining and layering different flavors, creating new dishes, and reinventing old are all expressions of creativity for the home cook as well. And for me, as someone who has pretty much zero artistic skill, it's my main creative outlet.

It's well established that art affects the brain in positive ways. It improves memory, resilience and mood. Children who engage in arts have been shown to do better in school and have better social skills.

Although the research has been done for more typical forms of art, like music, art and dance, I think cooking would demonstrate similar results. Really, it's such a similar mental process. And it's much more approachable than picking up a paintbrush or signing up for a glassblowing class :) 

I once read the average family has only seven recipes they recycle each week. This makes me sad. I know many people don't get the same kick out of trying new things as I do, but I won't accept eating the same seven dishes over and over again. .

When I try to get clients to step out of the box, we usually start by remaking a favorite dish. They're excited to create something they love in a healthier, but equally satisfying way. 

This pizza is a perfect example. With a crust made from soaked quinoa and millet blended with water, it couldn't be further from a traditional yeast and wheat dough. The crust is thin and crispy around the edges with a tender middle. The grains start to ferment an even sprout a bit, which adds a complex, fermented taste to the dough - kinda like traditional wheat dough!

Millet and Quinoa Crust Pizza with Pesto, Spinach and Grilled Squash

Makes 2 small-medium pizzas, serves 2-4

Adapted from The First Mess

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 3/4 cup quinoa, soaked 24 hours in water
  • 3/4 cup millet, soaked 24 hours in water
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed basil

Topping:

  • Heaping 1/4 cup pesto , homemade or store bought
  • 1 summer squash or zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-in slices
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch small leeks or green onions
  • 1 bunch spinach, chopped
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • Fresh basil to garnish

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the toppings. Heat a grill to medium-high. Spray the squash and leeks/green onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill about 3-5 minutes per side until lightly charred and tender.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add spinach and red pepper flakes and cook until wilted. Season lightly with salt and set aside in a bowl.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Rinse grains in a fine-mesh sieve then scrape into food processor. Add water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. Blend until you get a thick, pancake batter-like consistency. Add basil and another 2-4 tablespoons water if needed to thin (I added another 3 tablespoons water).
  5. Put two (oiled if not nonstick) cake pans in the oven for 4 minutes to heat. Remove from oven and divide remaining tablespoon of olive oil between the two pans. Place back in the oven to heat the oil 1 minute, without letting it hit it's smoke point. Remove from oven and divide the batter between the two pans, quickly spreading it even with a spatula. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully flip the crust, and return to oven to bake another 6-8 minutes. Remove crusts from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  6. When cool enough to handle, spread pesto evenly on the crust. Top with spinach, squash, feta cheese. Place back in the oven to reheat the ingredients if needed, just for a minute or two.