Pizza’s always been a crowd pleaser, and the cheesy, meaty pie is more popular than ever these days — from the pizza cakes and pizza-inspired fashions that dominate the Internet to the specialty pizza restaurants that dominate Portland’s local dining scene. For those with dietary restrictions though, a good pizza can be hard to come by.
So what’s a vegan, gluten-free pizza lover to do?
Making tasty pizza at home does not always require preparing yeast-risen dough. I have created ways to make “pizza with a twist,” including gluten-free versions that are sure to satisfy your family’s craving for a pizza dinner.
First, my polenta pizza has a big bonus in that it is gluten free! Polenta as a pizza crust? Yep, it’s fabulous! This pizza develops nice crispy edges as it bakes, and the polenta provides a great base for the fresh tomatoes, artichokes and fragrant basil leaves. You can use any additional or optional toppings you like to make this version your own.
But what if you want your healthy pizza in a hurry?
My best quick pizza secret is whole grain tortillas! I keep them in the refrigerator and freezer to use for so many different recipes like tarts, burritos, casseroles, wraps, quesadillas, cookies and homemade tortilla chips, but one of my favorite ways to use them is to provide a crisp base for a pizza that’s ready to eat in 20 minutes! Simply add your favorite pizza toppings and bake for 20 minutes or so and you’re good to go! Bonus: You can make your pizza gluten free by using a brown rice tortilla or any gluten-free tortilla of your choice. My Tortilla Salad Pizza is fabulous for a lunch treat or light supper.
Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
- 3 cups, plus 2 tablespoons filtered or spring water
- 1 cup polenta (corn grits; see chef’s note)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
- 3 medium-large tomatoes, sliced
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Freshly ground sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 5 to 10 marinated artichoke hearts, cut in half
- Make the polenta by bringing the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low or low. Pour the polenta steadily into the water, stirring constantly. Stir in the basil and salt.
- Stir the polenta frequently for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is thickened. (The polenta is ready when it easily comes away from the side of the pan and supports a wooden spoon.)
- Pour the polenta onto a 12-inch pizza pan and carefully spread into an even layer using a rubber spatula. (The edges of the crust should be slightly raised to hold the toppings in place.)
- Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until firm to the touch. (The polenta crust may be made the day before, covered and refrigerated overnight.)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the crust for 12 minutes. Put the pan on a wire rack and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Put the garlic and olive oil (if using) in a small bowl and stir to combine. Arrange the tomato slices on top of the crust by overlapping them in a spiral fashion, leaving 1/4 inch of the crust exposed on the outer perimeter. Sprinkle the garlic over the tomato slices. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil over the tomatoes and garlic. Top with the Italian seasoning and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the artichokes on top of the pizza. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil over the pizza.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Increase the heat to 425 degrees and bake for 15 to 25 minutes more, or until the crust is crisp and the tomatoes are bubbling hot.
- Put the pan on a wire rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice and serve hot.
Chef’s Note: For a completely gluten-free polenta (corn grits), make sure to purchase a brand labeled Gluten-Free.
Ingredients (Makes 2 servings)
- 2 8- to 9-inch whole-grain tortillas
- 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup cooked white beans (drained and rinsed if canned)
- 2 cups well-packed spring salad greens, washed and dried
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
- 1/2 sweet red or orange pepper
- 3 tablespoons shredded vegan cheese (optional)
- Almond Parmesan (optional, see recipe below)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
- Put a tortilla on a large plate. Brush both sides of the tortilla with a thin layer of olive oil. Repeat with the second tortilla. Put the tortillas on the prepared baking sheet.
- Put the beans in a medium bowl and lightly mash them using a potato masher or large fork. Spread half of the mashed beans in an even layer on each tortilla, leaving a slight margin around the edge for a “crust.”
- Chop or chiffonade the spring greens. Arrange half of the greens on top of each bean layer. Sprinkle the greens with the crushed red pepper. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer over the greens and sprinkle with the basil, oregano, and salt.
- Cut the pepper into slices. Arrange slices of the sweet red or orange pepper over the tomatoes on each pizza.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pizzas from the oven and top with vegan cheese (if using). Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the vegan cheese is melted. Serve at once with Almond Parmesan on the side, if desired.
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed
- Put the almonds and salt in a blender and process until the consistency of crumbled Parmesan cheese is achieved.
- Salt to taste.
For more vegan recipes, tune in to the fourth season of The Jazzy Vegetarian Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m. on OPB TV.