Pizza #1

It’s the weekend. And nothing says “weekend” more than pizza and beer. If you happen to feel like you don’t enjoy beer, I would strongly advise you to find a friend who is a beer geek. They can tell you all sorts of things about beer you might not know. And you will likely find a beer that suits you! Because beer is so varied (and there are so many hidden, delicious wonders), saying you don’t like beer is akin to saying you don’t like music. If you have tried all of the beers and still don’t like beer, that’s cool. You may want a glass of wine for this one. We’re all friends here. The point is, please don’t give up on beer having had only a warm BudLight at a party in 1998.

I believe it was the father of ancient medicine, Hippocrates, who wrote about maintaining a healthful diet on the weekends, “Fuck iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!” [citation needed] But this isn’t just an ordinary pizza. This is a pizza for people who want a more healthful pizza option without sacrificing any of the delicious pizza flavor and texture. Because healthy doesn’t have to mean a fistful of raw kale and a glass of chia seeds in bottled water.

This pizza came about because of two things: 1. I wanted pizza and didn’t want to go to the grocery store; 2. I had just scored some amazing golden beets at a farmers market down the street from us. When you see beautiful golden beets for $1.50 a bunch, you buy those fuckers and figure out what to do with them later. That’s your life advice for the week. You’re welcome.

Here’s just a brief note about cheese. I keep a primarily plants-based diet. But sometimes, I like a bit of cheese. Luckily for me (and you), there is such a thing as vegetarian cheese! These are cheese made with milk from certified humane dairies and a synthetic enzyme instead of rennet. Do you know what rennet is? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl, look it up. It’s in all of your cheese. So look for cheeses that are called “vegetarian” or have a label saying they are made with a synthetic or man-made enzyme. It’s still fatty and not great for you but sometimes you have to take that plunge.

2 2/3 c whole grain pastry flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill. You can use any mix of white and wheat flour that you’d like)
½ c red quinoa, uncooked
1 envelope dry active yeast
1 c warm (110-degree) water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 T olive oil
As much black pepper as you’d like
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp oregano
2 T parmesan or nut cheese substitute
1 scant c store-bought or homemade red sauce
4 oz shredded cheese/cheez of your choice
1 head of garlic, roasted
1 fresh golden or red beet, roasted
½ red pepper, sliced
5 medium-sized crimini mushrooms, sliced

Step one, pour yourself a drink. We’ve been through this. I’ve personally been on a bit of a lager kick recently so I’m having a Stella Artois. There are also plenty of amazing local beers where you are, probably. Ask your beer geek friend for recommendations. Next, roast the beet. Preheat the oven to about 450-degrees then cut off the green top and the long rat tail from the beet. Wrap it in aluminum foil and roast for the better part of an hour.

Meanwhile, make the crust. Set the quinoa to cook on the stove. Just like rice, it’s a 2:1 ratio of water/grain. So in this case, use 1 c water for ½ quinoa, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes. You’ll know it’s done cooking when the germ separates from the grain. They look like wee, white rings swirling around the red kernels of grain.

Proof the yeast. Don’t be afraid of yeast!! Just make sure the water is warm enough. You can heat the water in a kettle or in the microwave. The first few times, try to gauge the temperature with an actual kitchen thermometer (or meat thermometer or candy thermometer), if possible. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and let sit for a few minutes. The surface will start to get cloudy with amazing yeast coming back to life. You are now a yeast necromancer! You must wield this power with care and responsibility!

Next, stir in the salt, oil, pepper, herbs, parmesan and flour. It will get sticky and difficult to work with and that’s when you start kneading with your hands. It doesn’t have to be overworked, though. The more you fiddle with the dough, the tougher it will get. So go easy. Lastly, add in the quinoa from the stove. It will look strange as you mix it but it will also be clear when the quinoa is distributed evenly. You’ll cover this with a kitchen towel and let it sit in a warm place for 45 minutes.

At this point, add the garlic head to roast with the beet for the last 20 minutes. You’ll wrap it in aluminum foil as well. When it’s done, you can use a sharp knife to cut the bottom off and then squeeze the delicious garlic out.

After the dough has risen for 45 minutes, you’ll want to play with it a bit to get it pliable and then spread it out on a cookie sheet covered with foil. I usually sprinkle about a tablespoon of corn meal over the foil to prevent sticking. You could also use oil. Press the dough down with your fingers to spread it evenly over the cookie sheet. You could also use a pizza round, if you have one. Once the dough is spread out into a giant rectangle, you can let it rest for a few minutes. This would be a good time to peel the roasted beet. You’ll want to get the skin off and cut off the top bit where the leaves grow out of. Then you can dice it. WARNING: it will turn your knife, your cutting surface, your hands and anything else fuchsia, if you are using a red beet. But liiiiiiiike, in an awesome way. Still, fair warning. Reduce the oven temperature to 425.

I personally like to make my own red sauce. But, as mentioned, I didn’t feel like going to the store. And there was a jar of very decent store-bought sauce in the cupboard from when my paramour made me a surprise lasagna. Spread the sauce evenly over the crust. Then sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the crust. Then, it’s just decorating, basically. Distribute the roasted garlic, diced beet, sliced pepper and sliced mushrooms over the whole pie.

You’ll bake the pizza for about 15 minutes. If you can avoid it, don’t open the door. Look through the window if there is one. You don’t want the heat to escape. You’ll know it’s done when the crust around the edges is brown and it SMELLS SO GOOD YOU CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!!!
After it sits for about 15 minutes, you can cut it into six delicious squares of amazingnosity. It’s better for you than most pizzas you would get out in the world because it contains some wonderfully nutritive elements. The crust is high in fiber because of the whole wheat flour and the quinoa and you can actually cram as many vegetables on top as you’d like. Boom. Health.

Enjoy your weekend, my lovely pals! Thanks for visiting my kitchen x