Green Pizza

So I know it’s almost the end of January but I’m still reminiscing about the holidays.

My New Years Resolutions/Goals:

  • Improve Photography
  • Eat a mostly Vegan Diet
  • Work on my Fitness

PHOTOS: My aunt & uncle bought me a wonderful tri-pod for my camera and I can definitely notice my pictures improving in quality. So exciting not to try to hold my camera perfectly still while taking a picture in the right light and getting so nervous my hands shake anyway! Now I just need to figure out all of the rest of those photography tricks… lighting, composition, aperture…

FOOD: I can’t say it hasn’t been difficult. The first week was easy shmeesy & it’s definitely easier than I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE. Aaaand I thought cheese would be the killer. But I get some serious egg cravings. Oh. My. Lord. On the other hand, I made Cathy’s (from What Would Cathy Eat?…. LOVE HER) Chocolate Cake the other day. Um, so freaking good it’s unbelievable. Seriously, I still hardly believe it. And I can guarantee it’s going to be my go-to-chocolate-cake for a long time. Oh, and I made some really incredible vegan biscuits using the FIVE INGREDIENT Baking Powder Biscuit recipe on the side of the container. Using soy milk, of course. 3 times in one week. They’re that good.

FITNESS: Okay, I was slow to start this goal. Last week I finally got my arse on the elliptical & then tromped up & down the stairs for what felt like forever… okay, only 5 minutes… but climbing stairs is SERIOUS. Mom also signed us up to do 6 yoga sessions starting in February & hopefully I’ll remember enough to do it on my own. Seriously girls, who doesn’t love yoga? But mostly I like exercise that doesn’t feel so mechanical. Hiking, anyone?

Okay, okay, the pizza! Now, I call it green pizza because when I was thinking of what I wanted for dinner the other night I had that annoying craving for both a big salad & a greasy pizza. Does anyone get that? I guess so, otherwise why are there so many Olive Gardens & shit? This pizza definitely could have been greener (and obviously there’s not a salad on top), but I used what I had on hand! I found a recipe for a Spinach pizza crust a couple of weeks ago and I was dying to make a spinach crust ever since (I couldn’t find frozen spinach at Fresh Market). I even dreamed about it. The recipe for their fresh veggie pizza looked incredible too (i’m salivating) and must be veganized soon. I also knew I wanted to make an avocado cream sauce to drizzle on top. So I just had to figure out the middle. I’m already devising plans for a Mega Green Pizza. It shall be even greener & mightier… probably with a huge salad on top.

Green Pizza

Crust:

  • 3/4 Cups Warm Water
  • 1 Packet Yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Package (5oz) Fresh Spinach
  • 2 Cups AP Flour
  • 1/2 Cup WW Flour
Topping:
  • 1 Medium Zucchini, sliced thin
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, paper thin slices
  • 2 Tbsp Zaatar
  • Salt & Pepper
Avocado Cream:
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 2 Handfuls Fresh Dill, chopped
  • Juice 1/2 Lemon
  • 1/4 Soy Milk (or oat, almond, etc)
  • Salt & Pepper

The crust is so easy. Combine the warm water, yeast, sugar & salt in a large bowl. Let sit until the yeast has softened and “activated.”

Next, you want to wilt/cook the spinach in a saute pan until it’s just cooked… aka, all the spinach leaves have withered. Then you can choose… I was lazy and didn’t feel like getting out the food processor so I chopped up my cooked spinach into tiny bits. You might find it even more lazy to just whiz it around the processor for a few seconds. My laziness was in the ‘cleaning it later’ part.

Stir the spinach into the yeast mixture. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon to form a ball. You may need a bit more liquid depending on your spinach. Just enough to have a non-sticky dough. You want to be able to run your hand over it without being covered in gooey dough.

Let sit for about 20 minutes.If you have a pizza stone, now is the time to put it in the oven. Pizza stones are amazing. While the dough is rising (just a tiny bit), preheat your oven to 425F. Sprinkle either a large wooden cutting board or a pizza peel with plenty of coarse cornmeal. Then, on a floured surface, begin to shape dough. I usually just use my fingertips to push the dough outward, rotating it to make a circle. If it seems sturdy i’ll pick it up and pull on it some. When it’s about the shape & size you want it, place the dough on the cutting board/peel. If you need to you can reshape it some.

I always pre-bake my crust to ensure it achieves it’s absolute crispiness. If you have the pizza stone this isn’t really necessary, but if you’re a crispy crust lover like myself you can pop it into the oven for about 5 minutes before adding the toppings. If you don’t have a pizza stone use a round baking sheet and if you don’t have a round baking sheet then make a rectangular pizza 🙂

To make the sauce just combine the zaatar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small dish. It should be like a paste. Spread on dough. Cover with zucchini slices and bake for about 15 minutes. Honestly, the baking time will vary with how dark/crispy you like your crust and how baked you want your zucchini. I pre-baked my crust on a pizza stone so mine turned out quite dark but my zucchini was just cooked, not browned.

While the pizza is baking make the avocado cream sauce. SO good. Mash the avocado in a small bowl… you can use the same one you used for the zaatar olive oil mixture to save dishes. Or if you want to be a professional, you can go ahead and use your food processor. Whatever you prefer. Add the rest of the ingredients… the dill, the soy milk, the lemon juice and the salt & pepper and combine until thin enough to drizzle with minimum chunkage. LOL.

Pull the pizza out of the oven and drizzle with sauce… and dunk the crust in as well. It’s good. For real.

I know, I know, so late… But I want to know what everyone else’s goals are this year! What were your New Years Resolutions and have you been sticking to them? What have your greatest challenges been so far?

Mini Zaatar Pizzas

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but my ancestry is part Middle Eastern. My grandfather’s parents came from Syria & Lebanon. And that side of my family is HUGE. We have family reunions at the beach where 100 of us are trying to have dinner in 2 apartments. We have big feasts of stuffed grape leaves, hummus, baba ganoush, kibbe, kibbe nay, meat fatayers, spinach fatayers, pita, tabbouleh, baklava, mjadra, and more.

When we were growing up my cousins & I coveted the meat fatayers my grandmother made. Fatayers are little triangle shaped pies… sort of like the British pasty, except the fatayer dough is softer. We’d sneak into the kitchen at night and steal them out of the refrigerator. Clearly, I don’t eat them anymore, but there are so many great “beef crumble” substitutes that they’re practically the same when I make them today.

Though my grandmother is not of Middle Eastern descent (English all the way) she learned how to make all of the family recipes. She also raised 7 children while granddad honed his entrepreneurial skills to support his family. Last year she gave me one of her Lebanese cookbooks (she had 2 copies!) and I looked through it cover to cover over and over again. Since then, I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons to make more middle eastern dishes. I’ve also figured out how to make the perfect (in my opinion) Tabbouleh, which I shall post next time I make it.

Zaatar is a traditional Middle Eastern blend that usually contains a combination of the following: thyme, cumin, anise, coriander, fennel, salt, sesame seeds, lemon, pomegranate molasses, and sumac. I love sumac. It has a tart kick about it that is just so tasty. The first time I had Zaatar it was spread over pita bread with olive oil. I toasted it and ate it by itself. I ate all of it. It was so good – definitely comfort food.

Mini Zaatar Pizzas

For the Dough: (Makes 4)

  • 3/4 Cup plus 2 Tbsp Warm Water
  • 1 Pkg or 1 Tbsp Yeast
  • 1 Tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Honey
  • 1 Cup Bread Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Sumac

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 Cup Zaatar (the more, the better!!!)
  • Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, finely sliced

Preheat your oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit.

I made the dough a little bit sweet since the Zaatar is salty & a little bit tart. I just really like the contrast but you can change the dough recipe how you like in terms of saltiness or sweetness.

Combine warm water & yeast. Add sugar & honey. Let sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast are activated and the water begins to look foamy. Add the salt & sumac. Add the flour one cup at a time. If using a dough hook, keep on low speed. Otherwise, stir with wooden spoon to combine. My dough was a little bit tough. Make sure not to over mix. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a smooth ball. Separate into 4 evenly sized balls, cover, and let rise in a warm spot for about an hour. I always microwave something (like water for tea) and then stick my dough in the microwave afterwards. My dough was ready in about 30 minutes and it looked much prettier after rising. It should double in size. With extra flour (dough will become sticky after rising) shape the balls into discs for your pizzas. The thinner, the crunchier.

Combine the Zaatar, oil, and black pepper to make a paste. Spread on top of the dough and top with onion slivers. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust turns golden brown and the onions start to brown.

Let cool before eating so you don’t burn your tongue!