Don't Blame Crust When Your Pizzas Are Too Fattening

Posted: February 22, 1989

Is pizza fattening? Let's get to the bottom of this rumor! It's not what's under pizza - the crust - that makes it needlessly fattening. The bread part may account for less than 20 percent of the calories. Nor is it what comes next, the tomatoes. No, it's what's on top that really counts: extra cheese, added oil, greasy garnishes like sausage and pepperoni. If you were going to make pizza proportionally less fattening, you'd order it with extra crust!

Extra crust? Actually, there is such a thing: deep-dish, thick crust pizza. Admittedly, "thick crust" sounds more fattening than "thin crust," but if the pizza contains more veggies and grain - and less fat - thick can be better than thin. Here are some Slim Gourmet variations:

FRESH BROCCOLI AND RED PEPPER DEEP-DISH PIZZA

For deep-dish (or thick) crust:

1 package dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour

optional: salt to taste

Stir yeast and sugar (to feed the yeast) into warm water and let stand for 10 minutes. Separately, mix flours (and salt); add yeast mixture and mix until dough pulls away from side of bowl. If dough sticks to side of bowl, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough leaves side of bowl but remains soft.

Spray two non-stick 9-inch pie pans liberally with cooking spray and set aside. Divide dough in half. On floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll each half into a circle 2 inches larger all around than the bottom of the pie pans. (If dough resists rolling, let it rest for a few minutes and try again.) Fit each dough circle into a pie pan.

FILLING

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 pound fresh broccoli

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 pound skim milk mozzarella cheese, shredded

6 ounces provolone cheese, shredded

4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

4 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Optional: salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Meanwhile, spray small non-stick skillet with cooking spray; add oil, onion and garlic. Cook over low heat for about five minutes, until soft; transfer to mixing bowl. Separate broccoli florets and add to mixing bowl. Peel broccoli stems and chop coarsely; add to bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Divide mixture, spreading evenly over each crust. Put pizzas on lower shelves of oven. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until crusts are golden. Makes two 9-inch deep-dish pizzas, 16 wedges total, 225 calories each.

VEGETARIAN PIZZA

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 large garlic clove, minced

12 large mushrooms (about 8 ounces total), sliced

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced

1 large zucchini (7 ounces), sliced

2 cups plain tomato sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 deep-dish thick crusts (see preceding recipe)

12 ounces skim milk mozzarella (or other light) cheese, shredded

4 ounces Romano (or Parmesan) cheese, grated

Spray small non-stick skillet with cooking spray; add oil, onion and garlic. Cook over moderate heat for two minutes. Add mushrooms and cook over moderate heat for 15 minutes more, or until liquid from mushrooms has almost completely evaporated. Add carrots and zucchini; cook over moderate heat 3-4minutes. Remove from heat and stir in tomato sauce, oregano and salt, if desired. Spread vegetable mixture evenly over crusts, leaving rims exposed. Distribute mozzarella over vegetable mixture; sprinkle with Romano (or Parmesan).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake pizzas on lower oven shelves for 20 to 22 minutes, until bottom of crusts is deep brown. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Makes 16 servings total, 175 calories each.

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