Recipe: "Hearty" Pizza

by Carmela Loggia

There are lots of creative ways to say, "I love you." Ever do it with a delicious, steamy, heart-shaped pizza loaded with specially chosen and cut toppings?

You could always resort to the tried and true box of chocolates to deliver the same message, but why?

We've given our pizza recipe an extra "hearty" boost and made it heart-friendly by starting with a whole grain crust, using low- or reduced-fat cheese and topping with colorful, scrumptious veggies.

Hearty Pizza

Prep time: 15 minutes | Total time: 90 minutes | Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

Suggested Toppings:
• 2 cups marinara sauce
• 3 cups low-fat Mozzarella cheese
• 1 cup Parmesan cheese
• pepperoni, low-fat or turkey
• mushrooms, sliced and sautéd if desired
• bell peppers, seeded and finely sliced
• zucchini, thinly sliced
• tomato, sliced
• onions, thinly sliced
• olives, thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons Romano cheese
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°. Make the crust as directed or begin with a pre-made crusts, whole grain pita bread or tortillas. Shape the crusts into hearts or cut into a heart shapes with a pizza cutter pattern.

Spread the marinara sauce evenly on the crust surface. Top the sauce with the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Now comes the fun part! Cut pepperoni into heart shapes with a cookie cutter. Arrange these and your other selected toppings. Sprinkle lightly with Romano cheese and thyme. Bake until the crust is lightly brown and cheese is bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Get creative! We've tried and loved:

  • Apple, bacon, and onion pizza
  • Zucchini, mushroom & smoked cheese
  • Onion, rosemary and blue cheese pizza
  • Chicken, feta and mushroom
  • Cauliflower, cooked potato and olive

What topping combinations brings your family flocking to the kitchen?

Make Your Own Pizza Crust
• 1 cup warm water
• 3-4 cups wheat (we recommend whole grain) flour
• 1 Tablespoon olive oil
• 1 Tablespoon yeast (1 package)
• pinch salt

Combine warm water and yeast in the mixer bowl. Let stand five minutes for the yeast to dissolve. Stir.

Mix in the olive oil, 2 1/2 cups flour and salt. With the paddle attachment, beat on low speed for about a minute. Remove the paddle and attach the dough hook. Knead in additional flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about five minutes.

If you don't have a mixer, you can mix and knead by hand. If the dough seems a little too wet, sprinkle on a bit more flour.

Place dough in a bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes. Divide into two or more balls (depending on the size of your pizza pans). At this point, you can freeze the part of the dough in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Form the dough into a heart-shape crust. You can pat, roll or toss. Brush lightly with olive oil. Allow to raise 10 minutes and add toppings.

Cook's Note

For a gluten-free crust, replace the wheat flour with 2 cups rice flour, 1 cup tapioca flour, 1 cup corn flour, 4 tablespoon fiber like Psyllium husks and 4 teaspoons xanthin gum.

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