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Book Reviews

Heart Healthy Pizza by Mark Sutton

Book Review:
Heart Healthy Pizza by Mark Sutton
Back in the early days of vegan living, if you wanted a pizza, you’d have to order it without the cheese and just veggies, sometimes even without the sauce. Good times with dry, sad pizza! Perhaps one of the best illustrations of how far veganism has expanded in the past 15 years is served up on a pizza. Many of us, especially those who are urban dwellers, no longer need to order pizzas that reserve half of what is normally put on them. We have melty dairy-free cheese today; we also have myriad plant-based protein options. Now, though, that food scientists have engineered so much that skips animal-based ingredients, today’s vegan pizza can be nearly as loaded with fat and sodium as its non-vegan counterparts. [I should point out here that I am one of those people who truly does not give a fig if people eat “unhealthy” foods as long as it is vegan.] There are some of us who either can’t or don’t want to eat all that indulgent food while still be able to enjoy our pizzas as well. I’m happy to see that those of us who want a pizza that returns to the basics but also manages to improve on them have a groundbreaking cookbook to enjoy.

Heart Healthy Pizza: Over 100 Plant-Based Recipes for the Most Nutritious Pizza in the World by Mark Sutton is in some ways a return to the days before vegan cheese and myriad meatless protein options, but in others ways, much more tuned in to the international tastes many of us have acquired over the years. Even though this is a cookbook for those who place a premium on health, it does not mean that the recipes are boring, bland or basic. Far from it. Heart Healthy Pizza has dozens of recipes developed over five years of experimentation, including many gluten-free crust options, and they range from classics like Pizza Margherita to Indian Samosa-Style Pizza with mashed potatoes and the spices we expect from the popular fried savory pastries. All of Mark’s creative recipes are oil-free, and many are bursting with veggies, his own cheese or sauce innovations and whole grains. There is a lot of ingenuity here, taking what was traditionally a pretty simple and wholesome meal that has become a platform for heavy, rich toppings, and restoring it to its former status while proving that the flavors and fun shouldn’t be sacrificed at all.

With sections on creating your perfect dough, sauces, cheese sauces, whole pizza recipes (organized as “Old World,” “New World,” and “Other World” ideas), resources, an excellent glossary appendices and indices, Mark Sutton leaves no pizza stone unturned in helping you to master a variety of pies that will not compromise your health or leave you wishing for more indulgence. These are really innovative pizzas, thoughtfully organized and the instructions are easy to follow. While Heart Healthy Pizza is a no-frills affair in terms of photography (there is none, save for the cover), creativity abounds. Whether you mix-and-match crusts, sauces and toppings or follow the recipes for the pizzas Mark has put together, you cannot go wrong. This is a great gift for yourself or a friend who wants to have pizza without a ton of calories.

The pizza I made, Gonzo Greens, I made on the hearty Buckwheat and Chickpea Flour Crust, one of six gluten-free crust recipe options. It was complemented with a tangy, creamy and deceptively rich Quinoa, Artichoke Hearts, and Dijon Mustard Sauce and came together beautifully. It didn’t taste like the pizza we may be familiar with but that didn’t make it any less delicious. Readjust your expectations and I think you will find that Heart Healthy Pizza stands on its own without comparisons.

Thanks to Mark Sutton for permission to reprint this recipe. Heart Healthy Pizza can be purchased here.



Gonzo Greens Pizza

Crust:

Buckwheat and Chickpea Flour Crust
3/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 t. yeast
1 1/2 T. sugar or sweetener of choice
1 T. flax seeds
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. dried herbs of choice (I used rosemary and basil)

1. Whisk water, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
2. Grind flax in a spice mill. Mix into yeast mixture. Cover and let rise for 10 - 12 minutes.
3. Mix remaining ingredients together in a separate bowl and slowly add to the yeast mixture, stirring with a large spoon. Strive for a thick dough that’s not too sticky, adding water or buckwheat flour in 1 tablespoon increments if necessary.
4. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 425 - 450 degrees depending on your oven.

Form into a large ball and press into a lightly oiled non-stick baking pan. Press dough into desired shape with fingers, moving out from the center. Lightly wet fingers if necessary to aid in the shaping process.

Quinoa, Artichoke Hearts, and Dijon Mustard Sauce

14 oz. can water-packed artichoke hearts (about 1 1/4 cups quartered)

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. Dijon mustard [Note: I only used 2 tsps. and this worked fine for us]
2 1/2 T. cornstarch
1 1/4 cup water

1. Drain the artichoke hearts. Chop up the artichoke hearts into 1/2” pieces (cut lengthwise, then cross-cut).

2. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Start slow with pulsing and gradually increase speed. Blend until the mixture is a smooth, pancake-like batter.

Variation: Sprinkle the topping sauce with paprika before baking.
   
Note: This recipe makes a very delicate sauce, suitable for two 12” or 14” pizzas.

Gonzo Greens

2 cups mixed chopped, tender greens (arugula, romaine, radicchio, escarole, mustard, tender kale, young spinach, etc.)
Thinly sliced red onions (to taste)
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 t. sugar (optional - I went without)
Parmiso (see below)
Ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 - 450 degrees F (depending on your oven).
   
2. Top prepared and shaped dough with Quinoa, Artichoke Hearts, and Dijon Mustard Sauce.
   
3. Arrange sliced onions on top of pizza.
   
4. Bake pizza for ten minutes.
   
5. Mix greens with balsamic vinegar and optional sugar.
   
6. Remove from oven and arrange salad mixture on top of pizza.
   
7. Bake for another 5 - 10 minutes.
   
8. Sprinkle with Parmiso and ground pepper. Serve.

Variation: Sprinkle on sliced olives on top of greens before baking

Parmiso

3 T. toasted sesame seeds
1 T. flax seeds
2 T. nutritional yeast
1/4 - 1/2 t. salt (to taste)

1. If not using pre-toasted sesame seeds, toast them in a dry skillet (optional).
   
2. Add all ingredients to a spice grinder or coffee mill.
   
3. Grind vigorously until you have a fine powder.

Variations:
Substitute any amount of either sesame or flax seeds with an equal amount of ground, blanched sliced almonds.
   
Use less sesame seeds and more flax as desired.
   
Add 1/2 t. powdered sea vegetable (dulse, kombu or nori).

Note: This should be made in small amounts and not stored in the refrigerator but, instead, in a well-sealed glass jar or use an herb or spice container that no longer has the original herb or spice in it.






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