2016-03-25 / Columns

Recipes that will make pizza night healthier

Cooking on Purpose
By Connie Wendell Special to the Post

I love pizza night, however, all that cheese, meat and dough can sometimes be a bit too heavy. I have included some pizza recipes for you to try.

They are lighter than normal pizza fare and loaded with good for you vegetables.

Mediterranean pizza

¾ canned, no-salt added cannellini beans, rinsed and drained; 1 (10 ounce) whole wheat thin-crust pizza shell; 4 teaspoons olive oil; 1 cup peeled and diced eggplant; ½ cup finely chopped zucchini; ½ cup chopped onion; 3 cloves garlic, minced; ½ cup chopped tomato; ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved; ½ cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese (2 ounces); 1 tablespoon lemon juice; 1 teaspoon oregano, crushed; ½ teaspoon sugar; ¼ teaspoon salt; ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper; and ½ cup shredded Italian blend cheeses (2 ounces).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl mash the beans with a fork or potato masher. Place pizza shell on a baking sheet. Spread the mashed beans evenly over shell; set aside.

In a large skillet heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add eggplant, zucchini, onion and garlic. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes, olives and feta cheese.

In a small screw-top jar combine the remaining 3 teaspoons olive oil, the lemon juice, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and shake well. Add to eggplant mixture, toss to coat.

Spread eggplant mixture over pizza shell to within inch of edges. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until cheese begins to brown. Cut pizza into 6 slices.

Serves six.

Cheesy red pepper pizza

Nonstick cooking spray; 1 (13 ¾ ounce) package refrigerated pizza dough; 1 tablespoon olive oil; ½ cup sliced roasted red and/or yellow sweet peppers; 2 medium roma tomatoes, thinly sliced; 2 tablespoons shredded fresh spinach; 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces); ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper; and 2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 12- inch pizza pan with nonstick spray. Press refrigerated dough into prepared pan, building up edges. Brush with olive oil. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Remove crust from oven. Arrange sweet pepper, tomato slices and spinach on the crust. Sprinkle with cheese and black pepper.

Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes more or until cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle with basil.

Serves eight.

Pesto-bacon-tomato pizza with arugula salad topper

6 slices thick-cut bacon; 1 cup sliced leeks (3 medium); 1/3 cup pesto sauce; 1 pizza crust; 3 roma tomatoes, sliced or chopped; 6 ounces fontina cheese or provolone cheese, shredded (1 ½ cups); 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; ½ teaspoon dijon-style coarse ground mustard; pinch of salt; and 3 cups baby arugula.

Place a baking stone in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Or use an inverted baking sheet placed on an oven rack.

In a large skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain bacon, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings in the skillet. Place bacon on several layers of paper towels to drain well; coarsely chop bacon and set aside. Cook leeks in the reserved bacon drippings for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat,

Spoon pesto onto pizza crust; spread evenly almost to the edge. Top with tomato slices. Top with bacon and leeks. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake on the pizza stone or inverted baking sheet for eight to 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and salt. Add arugula; toss to coat. Using tongs, arrange arugula mixture in the middle of the pizza just before serving.

Classic pesto sauce

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves; 3 tablespoons pine nuts; 2 large cloves garlic, peeled; ½ cup olive oil; ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces); and ¾ teaspoon salt.

In a food processor combine basil, nuts and garlic; cover and process until finely chopped. With processor running, gradually add oil through feed tube. Process about 1 minutes or until smooth. Add Parmesan cheese and salt, process just until combined.

Spoon into an airtight container. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. (Or freeze for up to 3 months)

Enjoy your healthy pizza night. Until next time, keep Cooking on Purpose.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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