We used to order a pizza once every few weeks; because my husband and grown son loved it, and because it was a night off from cooking for me. Their favorite? Cheese and pepperoni, with the tiny pepperoni that curl into little cups of molten grease when cooked. And because we’re in Buffalo, pizza was always accompanied by 20 hot wings, extra crispy. I don’t want to even take a guess at how much salt, fat and carbs were consumed in that meal.
But how can we do this ourselves, in a way that would all but eliminate the sodium and bad fats, and provide a crust that was acceptable to our new way of eating?
It started with a pizza stone. I researched the different kinds, and decided on the highest rated stone out there, by Solido. The stone is thick and dense, and the spiral on the underside insures the stone heats throughout.
Next came the crust decision. We started out making whole wheat pizza crust, but then I discovered THIS gem:
It’s delicious, and it fits our guidelines for low-sodium, low-fat, low-carb. It’s probably the only processed thing we have in the freezer. Or the kitchen, for that matter. We started out wanting to make our own cauliflower crust, but they call for copious amounts of cheese, and we aren’t going in that direction anymore.
Slice off the top of the head of garlic, so the top of the cloves are exposed. Place in a pan and roast for 60 minutes. Let cool. Squeeze the cooled garlic from the root end into a small bowl, or directly onto the pizza crust. Using an offset spatula, spread the garlic paste over the crust. Roasted garlic is much milder than fresh, with a soft, creamy texture. It’s the food of the gods. Once you try this technique, you’ll never want a pizza without it.
Cheese. The stinkier, the better. Cheese used to be my BFF. The only person who loves cheese more than me is my husband. Friday night suppers used to be a big charcuterie board with 5-6 different cheeses and fruits, a glass of wine, and great conversation. But cheese is made with SALT. Lots of salt. What to do!?? Enter: goat cheese. At only 100 milligrams per serving, it saves the day. I use crumbled goat cheese and moderately sprinkle it onto the pie. It melts like a dream, too.
The other thing I do is use sparsely placed fresh shaved parmesan cheese. I’d rather have the pungent taste of 5 or 6 perfect shavings on my pizza than use grated, and lose the taste because of the portion limitations of this very salty cheese.
And of course, mozzarella. It’s lower in sodium than other cheeses, but use it sparingly. Sliced thin, it goes a long way!
If your pizza isn’t complete without the red stuff, employ a Vitamix to make a killer tomato sauce in 2 minutes. I use 8 Campari or Roma tomatoes, (whichever is freshest,) one-half peeled onion, carrot, 1/2 can no-salt added tomato paste, and a garlic clove or two. Start the Vitamix on speed 1, and increase to speed 10, then let it run for 30 seconds. Transfer the perfectly blended mixture to a saucepan, and simmer for an hour, uncovered, until thickened. Heaven.
Toppings: fresh tomatoes, sliced thin or thick, asparagus, onions, sweet peppers,hot peppers, freshly sautéed spinach, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, shallots, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, okra… whatever makes you happiest!
At the end, toss some fresh baby arugula on top. I add so much that you can’t see the pizza. Delicious!!