It may seem a little odd to post a “pizza” recipe straight after New Years when everyone seems to be on a detox or diving head-first into their lose weight/get healthy new years resolutions. But bare with me, because this is no ordinary pizza – it is in fact made nearly entirely of seasonal vegetables, with a little protein and healthy fats for good measure, making it the perfect healthy, delicious meal to start the new year with!
Coming from an Italian background and growing up surrounded by home-cooked Italian meals which had been handed down through the generations, I was definitely a little spoilt when it came to good Italian food. My Nan made the best lasagna I have ever eaten, and the pasta was cooked with freshly pureed tomatoes from the garden and hand-rolled pasta.
I have fond memories of Nan and I making pizza when I would stay over during the holidays. She knew the recipe off by heart and would measure ingredients out by eye only. The dough would rise in a tea-towel wrapped bowl by the fire, and then we’d punch it down, roll it out, and scatter a few toppings on before baking it in the oven. I remember Nan would always use a rectangular baking tray to bake the pizza on, and cut the finished product up into smaller squares with steel kitchen scissors.
When I make pizza at home these days, I like to use a similar method – homemade dough topped with a simple sauce and a few fresh toppings. We don’t eat too much pizza, though when we do our favorite combination is roast pumpkin, caramalised onion and walnut pizza. Sooooo good.
When I first heard about pizza bases made out of cauliflower a few years back I was quite intrigued, but also quite skeptical. Could riced cauliflower really be used to replicate the spongey, crisp-on-the-outside pizza dough I grew up loving? My first attempt revealed that, sadly, it could not. I was willing to give it a second go, and then a third just in case, and though the cauliflower pizza concoctions I was coming up with were tasty, they was disappointingly nothing like that traditional pizza that I craved. So instead, I decided to embrace these “pizzas” for what they were – a lovely savoury meal full of healthy vegetables and delicious flavourings. Not quite like a pizza, but a tasty, nourishing dish in itself.
My favorite way to make these (nearly) all-vegetable pizzas Is to use broccoli instead of cauliflower for the base. While the broccoli pizza base is lovely topped with sauce and a little cheese, I like it best with a green pesto instead. This obviously creates a very green pizza so I decided to stick with this gorgeous colour and use lightly fried zucchini and torn basil to top the pizza. You could obviously play around with the toppings here but this is my absolute favorite way, and adds the most flavour. It also makes use of everything we have in abundance in the garden at the moment – the last of the broccoli, loads of zucchinis (I didn’t plant any myself this year to save space, but my Dad off-loaded a bunch to me when I visited him at Christmas) and kale and basil in the pesto. This makes the perfectly light, delicious and seasonal pizza – a perfect combination!
- 250g broccoli (1 small medium), roughly chopped
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 2 Tbsp psyllium husk
- 2 eggs
- 5 large kale leaves, destemmed and blanched in boiling water 10 secs or so
- 1 cup loosely packed basil
- 1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1 Tsp lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small zucchini (200g)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 30g Parmesan cheese, thinly grated
- 50g goats cheese
- Fresh basil leaves, to serve
- Preheat oven to 205 C | 400 F
- To make the pizza base, add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well combined - the mixture should be fine, with the broccoli in breadcrumb-sized pieces. Pour the mixture onto a lined oven tray and press down into a flat round shape about 1cm | 1/3 inch thick. Bake in oven 15 minutes.
- To make the pesto, bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the kale leaves. Blanch them only - leaving them in the water for 10 seconds or so. Drain and rinse in cold water. Pat the leaves dry with paper towel or a clean tea towel to remove excess moisture.
- Add the hazelnuts to the food processor and pulse a few times to roughly chop them. Add the rest of the pesto ingredients and pulse until combined. You want the mixture to be a bit smooth, but still with a little texture.
- To cook the zucchini, heat a large fry pan over high heat. Add the oil and allow it to heat (be careful to not let it smoke!) Slice the zucchini thinly (a mandoline would work well here, although I just used a sharp knife), then fry on each side until browned. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with salt.
- To prepare the pizza, cover the cooked base with pesto, then the zucchini slices. Crumble the goats cheese and the Parmesan over the top.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Serve topped with torn fresh basil leaves.
What a lovely read. I bet it was so much fun creating food with your Nan and also so much more delicious then Italian food we have in the chain restaurants! Great flavour combos here as always!
It was a lot of fun, and yes way better than the “Italian” you get at chain restaurants! Thanks Lauren :)
Katie @ Whole Nourishment says
Having those memories of your Nan’s food and cooking with her is priceless, isn’t it?! This really is the perfect pizza to start the new year with. I’ve never made a cauliflower or broccoli pizza base but this one looks really good. And I’m loving the kale basil pesto, especially with the hazelnuts in it.
Yes, its lovely having those memories. I love how food and rituals relating to it can bring back such lovely memories :) Thank you Katie.
Lilli @ Sugar and Cinnamon says
I’m craving food like this so much like now! Such a great idea :) And it looks so pretty as well!
This is a perfect dish for this type of year Lilli :) Thank you lovely x
Aw, there is nothing better than childhod memories :) Those vacations at your Nan sounds wonderful
I was very dissapointed the first time I tried vegetable bottom pizza too. Yours look way better than mine did though :) Definitely trying it with broccoli soon.
Thanks Josefine :) Yes definitely give the broccoli a go – it’s still not really all that similar to a traditional pizza dough, but I think because it’s not trying to mimic it it holds its own and creates a really beautiful dish.
Elisabetta@Però Sano says
Italian backround??? Really? Italian grandparents? As an Italian girl I love traditional pizza (without mozzarella cheese since I usually avoid dairy products) but I’m also keen on something new and healthier. Your broccoli base pizza is a nice idea. I’ll try out, maybe without eggs. Thanks for sharing! <3
Hi Elisabetta! Yes my mother is Italian, her family moved to Australia after WWII when she was 4. I love Italian food, but I agree it’s nice to have something healthier for a change. I do hope you like the pizza if you try it :)