Sunday, August 31, 2014

Veggie Pizza & The Ultimate Test Of Success

So I'm a pizzaholic.

I know I'm not alone in this. But I used to take it to extremes.

I could personally down a couple of large pizzas, any toppings included.

No wonder I had two heart attacks, with a life history like that!

And I've missed the occasional pizza fix. OK, OK, I have indulged in the last couple of years, especially since the all-you-can-eat Pizza Monster Café opened locally, but rarely, and in much smaller quantities.

No more than half a pizza for me now, thanks.

At least that's what I thought, until this delightful thought occurred. I'm pretty sure I'm not the first, and if you Googled the main ingredient, I'll bet you'd find it out there somewhere. But it's original to me.

Start with a veggie pizza. Throw out the crust. OK, yes, you'll have to start from scratch with your own crust.

But here's but beauty of it. YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN CRUST FROM A TORTILLA. Waaaayyyy less carbs. And cheeeeep. The crust (1 large tortilla) on this baby cost me about 12 cents. 'Course, I had to buy 30 at Sam's Club to get that price.

Too thin, you say? Hah. See the above proof.

So here's what I used to make it work:
  • 1 large tortilla.
  • 1/3 - 3/4 C. pizza sauce, depends on how much tomato taste you want.
  • Good sprinkle of nutritional or brewer's yeast (optional).
  • Pizza seasoning to taste, included red pepper flakes if you're so inclined.
  • 2/3 medium onion (about 2+ inches), thin sliced, about 1" pieces.
  • 2 cups assorted raw veggies, or about 1 1/2 cups if cooked 
  •  Grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 of the onion, thin sliced in about 2" pieces (1/2 of full round slice) for the top
  • Thin sliced tomatoes for the top, after it's cooked.
Pre-heat oven to 425, at a time so it's fully hot once it's assembled. Don't wait too long, you don't want the crust to get soggy.

A plain packaged tortilla works fine, but for good measure, I prepared the one above by piercing it about 100 times top and bottom with a fork (so it doesn't develop large bubbles), then toasting it in my hot oven for about 3 minutes. I love lots of sauce. Of course, if you start with a raw tortilla, you'll have to fully cook it before you use it.

Put your tortilla on a baking sheet and assemble your pizza. No oil is necessary. As needed, I can assemble two pizzas on 1 cooking sheet, but one makes for no trimming due to overlap.

My typical pizza sauce is pasta sauce boiled down to remove some liquid, like was used here, but 1/2 can tomato paste is good too and is generally best to avoid soaking the crust.

For seasoning I sprinkled on pizza seasoning blend from Winco, I like it a little strong. The pasta sauce already has Italian seasoning that could have been fine by itself. I also sprinkled some red pepper flakes on at the end.

The brewer's yeast adds a kind of cheesy taste. My wife, who won't eat anything she's not used to or sure of, wouldn't. But I like it, and it  adds vitamin B12, good when you're light on meat in the diet.

I used 1/2 a green bell pepper, a cup of frozen broccoli, plus 2/3 of the yellow onion and 3 large sliced mushrooms. Other possibilities are red bell pepper, green beans, red onions, cauliflower, green peas, sugar peas, cabbage, shelled edamame, or any non-starchy vegetable that won't turn to mush. Therefore I don't use zucchini. The key is to dry the veggies as you cook them, so I steam-sautéed these with the lid off the frying pan. Mushy-wet veggies make for a mushy-wet crust.

Spread the cooked and still hot veggies evenly on top of the pizza sauce, seasoning and yeast base. Sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese on top of the veggies.

My ultimate pizza always has toasted onions on top, so I save 1/3 of the onion, thin sliced then cut in half, and separating the strands as I randomly scatter the onion on top. Cook in the hot oven until the onions and parmesan on top start to turn brown.

The final step is to spread thin slices of raw tomato all over the top after it's cooked. I tend to do this piece by piece as I eat it. In the above picture, I ate one slice for my dinner, then froze the rest. Yes, I did pull this out of the freezer for this picture. Is that cheating?

There are two important principles to emphasize. First, keep everything dry. Nothing that is actually liquid should go on your tortilla. Of course, there's always a fork if it goes soggy. But the attraction of a pizza is having a crisp crust so you can pick up and eat your pizza by hand, in my book.

Second, don't eat too much of this too often. It's low carb compared to regular pizza, but I try (and sometimes fail) to eat only a couple of slices in a single meal,  and not to eat this every day.

But I have to admit, I'm tempted. And if it was life and death I'd have to quit it completely.

But for now it's better than saying goodbye to pizza forever.

The acid test is my weight. If I'm at or progressing toward my ideal weight, it's ok. If I'm struggling, it's not.

2 comments:

  1. You are right there are many ways to produce lower carb pizzas then the typical frozen variety even 1/4 cup masa or flour a little water makes two instant torlas or pizza crusts. Pre Made tortillas have undesirable additives as do some seasonings you mentioned. Try to avoid all the premixed stuff and use oregano basil etc fresh if possible or dried. Watch out for additives to cheeses also. In Italy pizza has no cheese instead use olives garlic tomatoes onions basil oregano you might find some with feta.



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    1. Excellent suggestions. There's a convenience factor here, but given enough time, I'd prefer to do exactly as you suggest, and have in fact made my own pizza crust. The cheap tortillas I list do contain partially hydrogenated fats, terrible especially for me as a recovering coronary artery disease patient. So how do I justify 'em? The convenience factor is real, as is the cost of better made, non-poison containing large tortillas. Not available at Sam's Club, for sure. But as most poisons are very dose-dependent, I let my weight and how I feel guide me as well. But your points are excellent and well taken. Thanks.

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