01 April 2011

Garden Herb and Pesto Pizzas

Last night, some friends and I made dinner together. We said, “Let there be pizza.” And there was pizza. And then we said, “Let there be chocolate cake.” And there was chocolate cake. Then we rested.

Ok, actually we spent approximately 3 hours in the kitchen and dining room cooking, talking, laughing and eating. But the result of our labor was, in fact, pizza and chocolate cake, and after our amazing meal, we really did rest.

I love cooking with friends. Especially now that I’ve changed my diet. A lot of restaurants will cater to food allergies and special diets, but I think it’s more fun and meaningful to create a meal together. (Plus, my friends who eat sugar, gluten and dairy get to see that the food I eat tastes fantastic!)

My friends Sarah and Nubia are healthy eaters with a few diet restrictions themselves, so we all had plenty of stories and experiences and tips to share. I’m looking forward to more homemade meals with these ladies. I learned a lot last night and had so much fun with them!

Now, on to the menu. During my senior year of college, my roommates and I would make homemade pizzas, pop open a bottle of cheap wine and watch a movie. I’ve missed those nights for sentimental reasons, but also because pizza is one of my favorite foods. I haven’t thought about it too much since being on this diet (not eating bread and cheese has been surprisingly ok for me), but there’s something about getting together with girlfriends that still says “pizza” to me.

I’ve never made my own dough, let alone gluten, sugar, dairy, yeast free dough, but I was up for the challenge. I’d say that for my first attempt, it was pretty impressive. We all liked the flavor and texture. Hopefully I’ll be able to recreate it in the future.

We made two kinds. First, we made an herbed crust with marinara, soy mozzarella and tons of veggies (peppers, zucchini, onions, spinach, basil, and mushrooms—which I picked off). I could have done without the soy cheese, but none of us had tried it before so we thought we see how it tasted. It tasted fine, but I just didn’t think it was necessary. This one was our favorite because the herbed crust was perfect! It was soft and chewy with a little crisp on the outside. Also, the marinara sauce, which came from a can from Trader Joes, is out of this world! It’s already seasoned perfectly and has no added sugar.

Second, we made a pesto pizza (on a plain crust). For the pesto we threw some fresh basil, spinach, walnuts, olive oil, sea salt and soy mozzarella into the food processor and blended until creamy. Again, I think it would have been great sans cheeze.

After filling up on pizza, we were completely stuffed, but we had already promised ourselves some chocolate cake. So we made a batch of personal dark chocolate cakes so we could each take one or two home. I had one for breakfast this morning.

Herbed (or not) Pizza Crust

1 ½ cups Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour

½ cup brown rice flour (I used Bob’s again)

1 Tbsp chia seed flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp xanthan gum (don't be scared just because it starts with an "X", it's harmless)

½ tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 - 1 ½ cups water

Italian seasoning to taste (for the herbed version)

Preheat oven to 425F. Stir together dry ingredients, then add oil and water. Continue to use metal spoon to stir dough, dipping it in water periodically since the dough will be sticky. Mix dough until it becomes a ball. It should come clean from the sides of the bowl, but still stick some on the bottom (in other words, you want the dough to be somewhat sticky). If you want to use your hands to knead, have a bowl of cold water nearby to dip your fingers in so they don’t get covered in dough. You can add more water, oil and rice flour as you mix the dough to get the right consistency.

Once the ball of dough is ready, sprinkle rice flour on it and press it flat onto a lightly oiled pan—make the edges thicker to hold the sauce and toppings. Bake crust for 10-15 minutes until edges start to turn golden. Then, top with sauce and veggies of choice and bake for an additional 15-25 minutes until crust is as soft or crispy as you like it.

If you make the dough ahead of time, once you have the ball of dough ready, sprinkle with rice flour and store in ziplock bag in refrigerator (unless you won’t be using it for awhile, in which case you should freeze it). When you’re ready to use it, take it out of fridge two hours before baking and sprinkle with extra flour and oil until it flattens easily onto the pan.

This is a picture of the cake, just to tempt you. Come back to find out how to make it! :)


  1. Hi Miranda,
    I am a friend of your parents. I used to work with your Dad at AGAPE.

    I'd love to try some of your recipes, but I don't know where to get all of those exotic ingredients like xanthan gum. Have I just overlooked it at Harris Teeter or do I need to go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's?

  2. Hi Lori! Thanks so much for reading! I don't have a Harris Teeter near me, so I can't say for sure about it, but I do know that some Krogers have xanthan gum in their organic/health food sections. You can definitely find it at Whole Foods, but not at TJs. Also, with xanthan gum in particular, you should know that a little goes a LONG way. When you see the price tag on the bag, you'll be glad to know that. :) Happy baking!