Wheatless Wednesday – Zucchini Crust Pizza with Grilled Eggplant & Roasted Red Pepper

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Are you ready for another wheat free pizza?  My sister, Sandy, knowing my quest for the world’s best (and healthy) pizza, sent me a recipe for pizza with zucchini crust she found from Seattle Local Food. I searched a few other recipes as well and  checked with my friend, Elizabeth, who has been making zucchini crust pizzas for her kids for years.  I came up with my own version ,which includes almond meal and herbs, but this was the inspiration.    I know we are just beginning to plant our zucchini seedlings now, but this could be the answer later this summer to the seemingly endless quantities of squash coming from the garden. It’s also a natural follow up to my Cauliflower Crust Pizza recipe.   So I decided to bite the bullet for all of us ahead of time (you’re welcome) and give it a try.  The results?  A resounding DELICIOUS!  The taste and texture of this pizza is fantastic, way better than I expected. It got a big thumbs up in my house!

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I topped my pizza with grilled eggplant, roasted red pepper, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil on a light bed of tomato sauce and shredded cheeses. If you want to make your own Marinara Sauce, I have provided the recipe below.  Other topping suggestions include, pesto, white sauce or olive oil and garlic instead of tomato sauce, sauteed mushrooms, carmelized onions, tomatoes, pepperoncini, olives, marinated artichoke hearts,goat cheese the list goes on…   All raw vegetables need to be pre-cooked though so they don’t release more moisture into the pizza crust and make it soggy.  I don’t think you will have any leftover pizza, but it can be reheated in a heavy pan on low.

Pizza with Zucchini Crust

  • Servings: 1 pizza that serves 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 eggs
About 3 8′”zucchinis
1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup almond meal
salt
Fresh or dry oregano
Fresh basil leaves
1 Japanese  or small globe eggplant
1 roasted red pepper, sliced
1 ball fresh mozzarella
  •  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

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  •  Grate the zucchini.(food processor is easiest but any method works fine)  Put shreds into a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes.   Don’t worry about too much salt as most of the salt goes out with the liquid (Do not skip this step!)

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  • Slice the eggplant vertically into thin slices.  Sprinkle with salt, again to bring out the liquid and let sit 10 minutes.
  • Toss eggplant with olive oil and grill on both sides.  Set aside

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  • Put a clean kitchen cloth over a clean bowl and pour zucchini shreds into the cloth.  Squeeze cloth to get rid of as much excess liquid as possible.

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  • In a mixing bowl, add zucchini, parmesan, almond meal, eggs and fresh or dry spices (except fresh basil).  Mix together until evenly combined.

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  • Place a piece of parchment paper over a pizza stone or a baking sheet.  Pour the zucchini mixture onto the middle and spread into a circle about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.  Use your hands and fingers to even out the edges.

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  • Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown..

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  • Top with sauce, eggplant, shredded cheese, fresh mozareella, peppers and fresh oregano.  Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  • Sprinkle with fresh basil.  Slice with a pizza wheel.  Serve immediately.

Marinara Sauce

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsn fresh basil, finely chopped
1 Tbsn fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsn olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar <
  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan and saute garlic for a few minutes.  Add basil and crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil and add salt.  Simmer about 45 minutes.
  • Before serving add balsamic vinegar and stir to combine
 

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Meatless Monday-Warm Lentil Salad with Roasted Squash & Shaved Brussels Sprouts

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Is it really still winter?  You would never know it by the sun shining outside on this beautiful morning. (Sorry my East Coast friends…)  I’m still hoping for more than four days of rain before I will admit to Spring. Days are still short though,so there isl a chill to the air by dinnertime calling for hearty dishes to fill the belly.   Winter vegetables like gorgeous butternut squash and Brussels sprouts are abundant and so delicious!  Each one of these dishes is great on its own but combine them with lentils and you’ve got a winner.

I am pretty passionate about lentils.  They come in many colors and sizes and I love them all.  Brown and red lentils are great in soups and stews but my absolute favorite is the French green lentil (Le Puy) which is considered the top dog in the lentil world.  Lentils are actually named for their lens shape (Lens culinaris) and green lentils maintain this shape when cooked which is why they don’t get mushy.   Green lentils are delicious  and can transform a salad or side dish into a protein packed meal.   Lentils have the third highest amount of protein of any legume or nut (after soybeans and hemp) and contain dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, including iron. For this recipe I added roasted red pepper which gives the lentils a distinctive flavor.  Roasting peppers is very easy but in a pinch you can also buy them in jars already roasted.  They can be roasted in the oven on high heat, on your grill or over an open flame on your stove.  I just put the whole pepper on the lowest rack in my oven while preheating it for the squash and turned it every 5 minutes or so to char on all four sides.  Then let it cool in a paper bag and the skin slips off really easily.  Tossing the lentils in vinaigrette is the final touch and gives you a chance to add fresh herbs and spices.

Butternut squash is another versatile and nutrient rich food.  It can be roasted, mashed, stuffed, pureed and baked into muffins and casseroles.  My favorite way to prepare squash is very simple, drizzled with olive oil and roasted with salt and pepper.  Sometimes I splash a bit of balsamic vinegar over it before cooking to intensify the gorgeous orange color and bring out its natural sweetness.

My husband loves Brussels sprouts and I am always looking for new ways to prepare them. Right now they are in season so its a good time to add them into your diet if you haven’t already.   Brussels sprouts are another food powerhouse, in the cruciferous family like broccoli and kale. They contain sulforaphane which is believed to have anticancer properties and indole-3-carbinol which boosts DNA repair and is thought to block the growth of cancer cells.  Boiling Brussels sprouts somewhat lessens their cancer fighting potency (probably the good stuff gets thrown out with the water) but roasting and sautéing does not.  (Wikipedia)  In this dish, I have paired them with sliced shallots, garlic and toasted pumpkin seeds for a tasty and pretty dish.

Warm Lentil Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup green lentils
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 red bell pepper or  4 oz jar roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 Tbsn red wine vinegar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsn crumbled feta(optional)
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  • Roast whole red pepper in a hot oven or over an open flame turning to char all four sides.  Put in a paper bag and let cool.  Remove peel and seeds.  Cut into small dice.

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  • Saute shallot and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil.  Add vegetable broth and lentils and  simmer lentils 15 or 20 minutes, or until just soft but not mushy. Set aside with lid off to stop the cooking process.
  •  To make vinaigrette, combine red wine vinegar, balsamic, 2 tablespoons olive oil,, garlic, mustard and cumin in a medium bowl with a fork or whisk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  •  Place the lentils, peppers and cilantro in a medium bowl.
  •  Toss with vinaigrette and top with feta if desired.

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Roasted Butternut Squash with Cumin and Balsamic

1 butternut squash
2 Tbsn olive oil
1-2 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
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  • Peel and seed squash.  Sometimes this is easier if you cut it in half and then crosswise in  half again. Cut into 1 inch dice.
  • Place in a glass pan and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with cumin, salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, stirring several times, until soft.

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Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Shallot Saute

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 3/4 pounds brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
12 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons pine nuts or pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Thinly slice brussels sprouts into circles.  Easiest done with a food processor or mandolin. Don’t worry if you end up with some loose pieces.
  • Roast pine nuts or pepitas in a small dry pan for several minutes until they turn golden.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Saute shallots in butter and olive oil in large pan over medium heat.  about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  • Increase heat to medium high and add brussels sprouts, sauté until tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Add pine nuts and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm.

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