P.K.’s Whole Wheat Pizza Margherita with Heirloom Tomatoes

Monday, October 1, 2012

What better way to celebrate World Vegetarian Day than with pizza! And that this annual “holiday” comes on Meatless Monday makes it even more apropos. If you’re used to vegetarian food sucking not tasting very good, it’s likely because it didn’t feature big flavors and fresh veggies. I work hard here on my blog to change all of that, and I hope that today’s recipe provides further inspiration for fabulous meat-free fare.

Today’s post is also filed under “how many times do I need to tell you I’m a moderate.” (As in, “Yes, I eat pizza. Don’t be ridiculous.”) Tomatoes and basil are still in season here in New England, so my version takes a traditional pizza margherita—tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil—and gives it a healthy makeover and flavor boost by featuring local heirloom tomatoes and a whole wheat crust. A relatively quick dinner with options for cutting corners to suit your schedule and skills, it’s time to think beyond the meat for your pizza toppings.

Pizza Margherita

1. Prepare the sauce. One traditional preparation of pizza margherita is to take high-quality canned plum tomatoes and crush them in your hands and just throw them onto a pizza shell. That’ll do, but I prefer to make my own slightly-chunky cooked sauce with fresh tomatoes: stir chopped roma tomatoes in a pan with EVOO, garlic, and basil and it’s pretty much good to go after simmering 20 minutes or so, pictured below. Another option is to use a smoothly blended homemade marinara. Simply depends on the texture you like and the ingredients and time you have available.

2. Roast the tomatoes. A selection of heirloom tomatoes from my local farmers’ market is pictured below. (All the better if they are free range.) Details on how to roast them are found here.

3. Spread the sauce over the crust. Obvious, I know, but a note here that I prefer to cook the crust in a hot oven (425F) for about 6 minutes before adding the sauce, which provides a better result than putting the sauce onto the raw dough in my experience. Outcome likely varies by recipe: I often rely on Trader Joe’s wonderful whole wheat pizza dough when I don’t have time to make my own.

3.  Add tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Self explanatory, see the photo. (Basil can go on before or after cooking, whatever you prefer.)

4. Bake for 7-8 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before slicing.

5. Slice and enjoy. Ever the New Yorker, I always top my pizza with crushed red pepper, dried oregano, and finely grated parmigiano reggiano. Yum!!!!

I love making pizza and do it every few months or so. (I’m pretty sure pizza consumption is actually required by law if you are a New Yorker.) This particular specimen was absolutely amazing, no doubt because local tomatoes are so sensational this time of year. The sauce was incredibly sweet from the vine-ripened fruit and summer basil while the roasted tomatoes brought the dish to the next level of tomato goodness. Seriously delicious.

And now I can’t wait to share with you my white pizza recipes: with artichokes, arugula, and garlicky herbed ricotta cheese and one with white beans, caramelized onions, and chard.

Until next time…

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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