It All Starts with Crust
Whole-wheat flour. Forgo the traditional white-flour crust and make your own whole-wheat dough for some extra protein and fiber.
Tortillas. Rice and beans aren’t the only ingredients that can top a tortilla. Make your own whole-wheat tortilla for a perfect thin-crust alternative.
Pita bread. Pita pockets are the perfect size for a personal pizza and the whole-wheat variety adds an extra nutrition.
English muffins. With all the nooks and crannies, an English muffin pizza crust can toast up perfectly in the oven and are great for making mini-pizzas for a light lunch.
Matzo. Think of this as the ultimate thin-crust pizza. Super simple and super crispy.
Cauliflower. For a lighter option, forgo the extra carbs and turn cauliflower into a healthful, delicious pizza crust.
Zucchini. Similar to cauliflower, zucchini is easy to make into a lean, green, pizza crust.
Portobello. These mushrooms are a perfect bed for any pizza sauce and toppings.
Quinoa. This grain isn’t only great on top of salads or in soups. Cook up your own quinoa crust for a nutty, protein-packed alternative to classic pizza dough.
Leftover rice. Another use for that leftover rice from dinner last night. Add just a little flax-seed meal and Italian seasoning, and you’ve got an easy, inventive crust.
And Then There’s Some Crazy Toppings!
- Start with a whole-wheat crust, spread on a thin layer of goat cheese. Layer on some roasted beets and drizzle with oil. Bake until crispy and top with a handful of fresh arugula before serving. Drizzle with some high-quality balsamic vinegar.
- Toast a large tortilla until slightly crisp. Remove from oven and top with pumpkin puree, chicken sausage and kale.
- Start with a zucchini crust. Add pesto. Top with :broccoli or spinach or asparagus and sliced artichokes. Dollop with some pieces of fresh mozzarella and bake until crisp.
- On a whole-wheat crust, spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese. Bake until the cheese starts to brown. Top with sliced figs, grapes, strawberries and blueberries or any combination. Add a drizzle of honey.
- On a whole-wheat pita, spread a few tablespoons of fresh tomato sauce. Top with sautéed onions and peppers and sliced cooked sausage. Top with some mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. Bake a few minutes to melt the cheese.
Polenta Pizza Crust
Who says pizza has to be made from bread dough? Best of all, it’s gluten free!
Makes: one 11” x 14” rectangular crust
- 3½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cups Polenta
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the 3½ cups of water to a boil. Add the salt.
Slowly add the polenta to the boiling water and stir. Reduce the heat and continue stirring for about 5 minutes, until thickened.
Pour in 2 tablespoons of oil and stir to incorporate. Add the chopped parsley, oregano and freshly ground black pepper (to taste). Stir to combine.
Remove the pan from the heat and prepare an 11×14 inch baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Using a spatula (a silicone spatula works the best), spread the polenta evenly onto the prepared baking sheet.
Cover the pan and refrigerate for about an hour to set the polenta. You can also chill it overnight.
Once chilled, heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until slightly crispy on top. Remove from the oven and apply pizza toppings of choice. Return to the oven just until the toppings are heated. Cut into serving pieces.
Whole Wheat Sandwich Pizza Dough
This pizza dough has a thick crust – more like focaccia. Top with prosciutto, figs and pesto for an unusual sandwich.
Makes: one 9×13” thick crust pizza
For the starter:
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 package active dry yeast
For the dough:
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups of bread flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- Extra water
- Kosher salt
For the starter:
In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the 1 cup of warm water (about 115 degrees F). Let the mixture stand 5 minutes—it should start to foam and bubble a bit. Add flour and mix well. Cover and let it stand for about 1 hour.
Make the dough:
Add the remaining 1 cup water, oil and salt to the yeast mixture and mix together. You can use a standing mixer or food processor as well.
Add the bread and whole wheat flours and using the paddle attachment mix until smooth. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes. It shouldn’t be too sticky, but still slightly tacky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover it and let it rise for 1½ hours.
Punch down the dough and turn it onto a lightly oiled 9×13 pan. Press the dough out to fit the pan and let it rise for 30 more minutes. After the 30 minutes, press the surface of the dough with your fingertips to make small depressions on the top. Apply toppings of choice or use the bread for sandwiches.
Bake the bread in an oven heated to 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes longer. If the top of the bread browns too quickly, cover it with some aluminum foil.
Sweet Potato Pizza Crust
Makes four 8” personal pizzas
- 2 cups mashed sweet potato (about two medium sweet potatoes)
- 5 cups whole wheat flour (or use gluten-free flour as an alternative)
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup milk or nondairy milk
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the sweet potatoes:
Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Peel, dice, the sweet potatoes and then place them in the boiling water until soft.
Drain and mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Allow to cool. Add the milk, olive oil and salt and mix well.
In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine.
Dust hands with flour and gently knead the dough until it is well mixed. You may want to turn the dough out onto a floured work surface for more space. You can add a little more flour to reduce the stickiness of the dough, but not too much, as it should still be slightly sticky.
Separate into 4 equal parts and form into rounds. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and press one of the dough balls in the center. Press out from the middle of the ball, forming a flat, round disc (about 8 inches diameter). Repeat with remaining balls of dough.
Bake for 10 minutes. Add toppings of choice and return to the oven to bake for 10 more minutes.
Quinoa Pizza Crust
Makes 2 servings
- 1 cup quinoa plus enough water to cover for soaking
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3-1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Place the quinoa in a bowl and pour in enough water to cover the quinoa. Let it sit for about 8 hours to soak .
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Use a large 12-inch cast iron skillet or baking pan and brush with oil. Place in the oven to preheat.
Drain the quinoa, rinse and drain thoroughly. Place the quinoa in a blender. Add the 1/3 cup water and the seasonings and blend. Add more water as needed, until the batter resembles a thick pancake-style batter.
Once the oven reaches the set temperature, pour the batter into the skillet and quickly spread it out evenly across the bottom.
Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the underside is well-browned and starting to crisp. Use a large spatula and carefully flip the crust over. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and top with desired toppings. (Such as, tomato-based pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, sautéed mushrooms, onions, pork sausage or greens.)
As with any pizza, be careful not to overload on toppings or the crust will get soggy.
Return the pan to the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the crust is well-browned on the bottom and crisp. Remove from the skillet and transfer to a cutting board or plate. Slice into serving pieces.
Zucchini Crust Pizza
- 2 cups shredded (1 large) zucchini
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil or oregano
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup. grated fresh parmesan
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Dry zucchini well with clean paper towels. Shred the zucchini using a hand shredder, then take all the shredded pieces and squeeze out all the excess water in between two paper towels.
Combine the zucchini, flour, eggs, oil, herbs and the cheeses until well-blended.
Once the dough is fully formed, spread evenly to about 10 inches on a pizza pan covered with parchment paper, then bake in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees F for 15 minutes or until crispy.
Carefully turn the crust over with a wide spatula so the other side cooks as well. This will prevent sogginess. Bake for another 10-15 minutes
Once cooked, remove from the oven and add whatever toppings you choose (see below for ideas).
Turn the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Once topped, put the pan back in the oven for about 8 minutes until heated.
Some Topping Ideas Or Use Your Imagination:
- 1 large ripe tomato, sliced
- 2-3 sautéed garlic cloves
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Thinly sliced bell peppers
- Thinly sliced potatoes sautéed with garlic
- Sliced olives
- Sliced onion
- Fresh Mozzarella or Italian Fontina cheese
Dear Readers: What is the most unusual pizza you have created or eaten?
- Beet Crust Pizza (cityliciousrecipes.wordpress.com)
- Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Recipe (Bread Machine) (grainmillwagon.com)
- Recipe | Crazy Feta and Zucchini Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust (whatdresscodeblog.com)
August 4, 2014 at 8:12 am
Some intriguing ideas there. I’m still working on a thin, crunchy trad base and how long to cook it before I venture off into pastures new. I will find that elusive combination!
August 4, 2014 at 10:30 am
Let me know how it turns out.
August 4, 2014 at 10:54 am
I need to get creative with my pizza crusts! I can say I have ever ventured off from a tradition version, however, I really like some of these ideas here!
August 4, 2014 at 10:58 am
Thanks – it is fun to try – even if you never make that particular one again. I like to experiment for my firiends who cannot eat gluten.
August 4, 2014 at 11:04 am
Great list of alternatives to regular pizza dough.
August 4, 2014 at 11:05 am
Thank you Pam
August 5, 2014 at 8:33 am
When you think outside the box you can come up with lots of creative ideas and you certainly have.
August 5, 2014 at 8:35 am
Thanks Karen. sometimes it is just fun to do so.
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