“Healthy” isn’t the word that usually come to mind when one thinks of pizza.
Usually, it’s words like “greasy”, “heavy”, “cheat day” and “fattening”. Sometimes pizza involves a few beers, sometimes it’s a quick meal from the freezer when you are tired or find your fridge wanting. Either way, it’s amazing and delicious and we all want more and more and more.
So why isn’t it healthy?
Bread gets a bad rap in diet circles. It’s definitely true that too much wheat is not good, and it can be argued that the huge increase of wheat in our diets has contributed greatly to the rise in obesity. But it’s the excess of the thing that really does the harm. Bread, or other wheat based foods, in careful moderation is a healthy addition to anyone’s diet. Humanity has long valued wheat in nutrition, but only in recent history have we been flooded with it’s availability and abused it. In choosing which wheat to eat in moderation, though, you have to be careful to assume that all wheat products are created equally. Many breads found in the grocery isle contain long lists of unpronounceable additives as well as high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. The frozen products are just the same, many times containing lots of excess sodium. The best breads you can buy are fresh from a bakery, or, even better, made straight at home. And don’t they taste way better anyway than something that’s already been sitting a bag on a shelf for weeks?
Ok, so what about the “healthy” wheat substitutes? I haven’t found a good one yet. Cauliflower crust, after many attempts and recipes, just doesn’t match wheat. It doesn’t hold together well and doesn’t taste very good. Sweet potato crust changes the whole flavor profile and also really missed the mark for me (but it was AMAZING in this garden vegetable quiche!). I don’t eat pizza very often, but when I do, I want a delicious, fresh, satisfying pizza that won’t leave me feeling un-fullfilled. Sometimes the creative substitutions do hit the mark, like cauliflower rice, which is spectacular, but sometimes it’s just better to stick with the real deal. Everything in moderation is the most important part of a healthy diet!
What I love most about this flatbread, aside from the crunchy, fluffy homemade crust, is how fresh it is. Almost 2 pints of tomatoes are blistered and added to the homemade dough. Garlic infused olive oil gives the bread lovely flavor, and that fresh mozzerella and balsamic reduction? To die for! Sure, there’s fat, there’s carbs, but it’s beautifully fresh and simple. It’s a thousand times better than the pizzas dripping with grease, over loaded with cheese and fatty meats, or pumped with additives and excess sodium. Bringing it back to the way it should be never tasted so good!
Margherita FlatbreadPrint Recipe
- 1 3/4 cups bread flour
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup warm water (110F)
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided + 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 packet yeast (1/4 oz or 1 1/8 tsp)
- 1 1/2 - 2 pints grape tomatoes
- About 6 oz of fresh mozzarella (I used pearls)
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 6 -7 fresh basil leaves, sliced
Place the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with the hook attachment. Mix until incorporated. dd the warm water and 1 tbsp olive oil and mix on medium until dough forms . Turn dough out on to floured surface and knead about 20 times until dough comes together. Use the second tbsp of olive oil to rub the insides of the mixing bowl. Form dough into ball, set inside bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to sit and rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
About 1/2 hour into the rising time, prepare the tomatoes and garlic oil. Place 1/4 cup olive oil, diced garlic and pepper flakes in a small skillet. Heat over medium low heat for a couple minutes until garlic starts to sizzle. remove from heat and allow to cool. At the same time, heat a large stainless steel skillet ( you can use another pan, but I've found this kind is best for this) over high heat. Allow the pan to get really hot. add a little olive oil and then the tomatoes. Cook, tossing tomatoes in the pan every couple minutes. (grab the handle of the pan and move the pan forwards and backwards quickly). This will take about 10 minutes. Cook until all tomatoes are blistered and most tomatoes are burst. Remove from heat.
Get the balsamic reduction going at this time too. Place vinegar in a small sauce pan. Heat over high heat until boiling, reduce to medium high and continue to boil. Grab the handle of the pan and swirl vinegar occasionally. This needs to cook for about 10 minutes as well. Remove from heat when reduced as desired.
After dough has sat for about 1 hour, preheat the oven to 500F. Place your pizza stone or cast iron pizza pan n the oven on the middle shelf while it heats. Turn out your dough onto a floured surface. Roll out dough to a large round. Dough will be elastic so don't be worried if it shrinks when you flip it. Flip, roll out again to large size.
When oven is preheated, remove pizza stone and place dough on stone, stretching back to it's large size. Brush with a little of the garlic oil. Place in oven for 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven, flip. Brush with the rest of garlic oil over rest of pizza (including the garlic). Spread tomatoes evenly over pizza. Drop mozzarella pearls as desired over pizza. Place back in oven for 6-7 minutes.
Remove from oven, place on cutting surface. Sprinkle basil over. Drizzle balsamic reduction over. Cut and serve!
Flatbread is best day of, but can be reheated in a skillet the next day and still be delicious 🙂