In my family, every Monday night is pizza night. I know many families have pizza night on Friday, to wind down after the week. Or perhaps, someone just doesn’t feel like cooking a big meal after a long work week. Either way, for us, Monday night is pizza night, and we are always looking for something new or different.
Because of food allergies in our house, we need to avoid gluten, which you might think would throw a wrinkle in the whole pizza night thing – but thanks to a little bit of creativity, we’ve figured out how to use vegetables in place of flour-based pizza crusts. Not only can vegetables be used as the crust itself, they can also be ground up and blended to create a more traditional pizza crust.
Even if you’re not gluten-free, using vegetables in place of regular pizza crust can be a fantastic way to spice up your own family’s pizza night routine.
Using Vegetables As The Crust
While you can incorporate vegetables into the pizza crust, another way to get creative is to actually use the vegetable as an edible vessel to hold the pizza crust. Eggplant is a great option for this, but you should be mindful of the fact that eggplant does tend to get a little soggy when left out for too long. You can reduce the sogginess by “sweating” the eggplant beforehand, just slice your eggplant vertically and sprinkle a little salt on top. Let sit for 15 minutes and you’ll notice beads of water accumulate on top of the eggplant. Then all you have to do is dab the moisture off and get to the next step. Once your eggplant is set, rub a little olive oil (or other oil of your choice) and pinch more salt and pepper, then broil it until it starts to turn light brown. Once it has been broiled, add your toppings and bake until your toppings are all nice and crispy.
You can also use zucchini in the same fashion – sweating included. Once you have the crust set, you can top it with whatever you like. One pizza that will please anyone craving a Mediterranean flair is an Artichoke and Olive pizza. Or you can go traditional with sauce, “cheese,” and mushrooms or other vegetables. Spinach, broccoli, onions, peppers, and any other vegetable you have on hand (either fresh, frozen or canned) works as well. If you do use frozen vegetables, be sure to thaw them before putting them on the pizza.
Peppers In The Crust
If you want to incorporate the vegetables to make a more traditional crust, three are a number of different vegetable blends that you can use.
This raw red pepper flax crust pizza is a great option. But keep in mind that if you’re not cooking a raw pizza crust, it won’t have that hard, crispy texture – they’re delicious, though, nonetheless!
Thai pizza is an interesting take on pizza toppings, and while this recipe uses a typical crust, this would pair well with a red pepper crust. If you are using red pepper, you don’t want the toppings to have too much pepper, as it will overpower the flavoring.
Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable, in that it can be used to create a topping or a crust. If you are looking to make a crust with cauliflower, try a Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Black Mung Bean Curry. The best part is you can use this crust as a base and mix up the toppings according to your family’s wants.
If you are looking to incorporate cauliflower as a topping, try a Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza. This vegan option gives you the buffalo taste that you love but also is dairy-free and gluten-free (assuming you use a cauliflower crust instead of a gluten-containing crust).
Garbanzo Bean Crust
Another option for pizza crusts involves using garbanzo beans, or chickpeas. These recipes actually use chickpea flour, but you can make your own chickpea flour by simply putting dried chickpeas into a food processor and blending until they reach the consistency of flour. You may have to sift out the larger pieces that didn’t blend, but this is an easy and nutritious way to get more beans and protein into your diet.
Once you have your own chickpea flour, you can make your own Socca Pizza. The crust here will not be quite as durable as a standard pizza crust, but just break out your knife and fork and enjoy.
Another option is mixing the chickpea flour with sweet potatoes for a crust that gets a boost of Vitamin A along with the protein from the chickpea flour. Because this crust will have a little bit of sweetness from the sweet potato, choose your toppings carefully. This might pair well with some fresh basil and tomatoes for a Caprese style pizza.
For a non-traditional option to make a pizza crust, look no further than carrot pulp. Try a Carrot Pulp and Flax Meal pizza crust. This provides a boost of Vitamin A in your pizza by mixing the carrot juice with flax seed for a gluten-free crust. If you are still looking for non-traditional toppings, try a Vegan Salad Pizza with the carrot pulp crust.
It’s never easy to please the entire family, however, pizza creates an easy way for everyone to have a say! You can either make small individual-sized pizzas for each family member or put different toppings on each half of a pizza. While pizza is typically viewed as a junk food, when vegetables are used in the crust (and not just as a topping), pizza has more nutritional value. Continue the pizza night tradition and know that you are feeding your family a healthy meal.
Lead image source: Ultimate Raw Vegan Pizza