In my group of childhood friends in Nigeria, each of our homes was known for at least one specialty dish. For example, my friend Rids had brownies & cheese balls; we always requested crispy noodles at Nitya’s home; Ayesha’s pantry was always filled with the best variety of crisps & biscuits; Henna’s baked spaghetti was untouchable; I die just remembering the sausages that used to come out of Sonali’s barbecue. And my home? We had pizza DOWN…more specifically heart-shaped pizzas courtesy of the madre. Side note: weren’t my friends & I one heck of a healthy bunch ;). Going back to those heart shaped pizzas- we always had the bases & sauce ready in the fridge in case my friends came over or I wanted a snack.
Although we no longer use a cookie cutter when making pizza at home, it continues to be one of my favourite foods. Thick crust, thin crust, lots of cheese, or cheeseless- I’ll take it all. Unfortunately pizza is one of those foods that automatically receives a bad rep of being ‘unhealthy’. Like almost any other food, it all comes down to how the food is prepped & how it is served. A few quick tweaks can easily boost a pizza’s nutrition including:
- Opt for thin-crust
- Replace all-purpose flour with wholewheat flour when making the base
- Limit the amount of cheese used
- Load up on veggie toppings rather than red meats like pepperoni
- Exercise portion control
Remember I mentioned that I hardly cooked during the summer? Now that I am back in Mumbai, I feel like I am back in the game. To get my pizza fix last week, I decided to try using one of my favourite flours of late: chickpea flour. Gluten-free & containing 5g of fibre, 10g of plant-based protein & 101mg of folate per 1/2 cup serving, chickpea flour is a nutritional goldmine. Aside from using it for Socca Flatbread, I tend to use chickpea flour for making pancakes, quesadillas and now pizza. Wait let me rephrase that: Protein Pizza.
Between the chickpea flour, cheese and veggies, each pie racks in 23g of protein and nips the pizza craving in the bud like no other. Rather than crisp, the crust of this Protein Pizza is deliciously soft and doughy. Texturally speaking, it’s quite similar to the pies that come out of a pizza stone. And because there’s no better way to celebrate Meatless Monday than pizza, here’s the recipe:
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour (=45g)
- 1/2 cup water, warm or room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano + more 1/2 teaspoon for garnish
- 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup marinara sauce
- 1 oz grated cheese
- 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms (or your choice of toppings)
- Chili flakes - optional
- Preheat oven to 180*C
- In a bowl, mix together the chickpea flour, oregano, rosemary & salt.
- Add the water & whisk to combine into a smooth, lump-free batter.
- Coat a flat skillet with cooking spray (or oil) & place over medium heat. Pour the batter onto the skillet, swirling skillet evenly to coat.
- Reduce heat & cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip & cook for another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Turn off heat.
- Spread marinara sauce across the base & top with cheese and mushrooms (or your choice of toppings). Transfer skillet to oven & grill for 10-12 minutes until the cheese has melted to your desired consistency.
- Remove pizza from oven & add oregano, chilli flakes. Cut into slices and enjoy!
- i) I used cheddar but try experimenting with your favourite variety of cheese. For a vegan alternative, go cheeseless!
What’s your favorite pizza topping (s)?
How do you make your pizza healthier?