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Effortlessly healthy eating

Vegetable Pizza with Tomato and Cannellini Bean Sauce


I always have 5 things in my pantry. A can of cannellini beans, a can of chopped or whole tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic and chili flakes. With these 5 ingredients I usually make a big bowl of pasta topped with a creamy, spicy tomato sauce. It is what Pao and I usually make when we don’t feel like braving the San Francisco wind and walking the two blocks to the market. Over the last three years and countless nights in my little apartment by the bay we have tuned it and tweaked it and turned out what we think is a perfect sauce.

Pao called me last Saturday and said “Whatcha doing?” I replied that I was waiting for some pizza dough to rise (which never did) and working on my veggie pizza recipe. “Ooooh fun!” she exclaimed and made her way to my apartment. Just as we had concluded against using vegan cheese (neither of us like the taste) the brilliant idea struck us! We would use our favorite pasta sauce on the pizza! We hypothesized that the creamy, spicy sauce would provide enough flavor to make up for the lack of cheese. And we set out to prove the theory right.

As for the dough that never rose, I have, at least for the time being given up on attempting to make pizza dough from scratch. I made two batches this weekend and neither one rose properly and both tasted like cardboard when I baked them. Therefore I’ve concluded that homemade pizza dough does not qualify as ‘effortless’ and so it will be left out of this blog. Fortunately there are so many great ready made pizza doughs that you do not have to give this a second thought…if you don’t want to. After my second batch of dough failed I set off for the market and returned with Il Fornaio Ready to Bake Pizza Dough which turned out delicious! It was light and pillow-y with the perfect crunch on the bottom.

1/8 cup olive oil
1 Onion chopped
a few small pinches of chili flakes
3 cloves garlic
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 14 oz can cannellini beans
2 cups fresh veggies
– I used leftovers from a chopped salad that included broccolini, red & yellow peppers, carrots, green cabbage, romanesco, zucchini and spinach
1 package ready made pizza dough

To make the sauce:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat add the oil and onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until they start to turn translucent. Add the chili flakes and garlic, followed shortly by the can of tomatoes, juice and all. Lastly add the tomato paste by making a little hole in the onions. Put the paste straight onto the bottom of the pan and let it cook in the oil and caramelize until it releases a smoky sweet aroma (approximately 3 minutes). Then mix the ‘hotspot’ of paste into the rest of the sauce. Now that the onions and tomatoes have broken down nicely in the oil you can add the cannellini beans. The heat from the oil and onion mixture will break the beans down within about 15 minutes. To speed up this process you can use a potato masher to mash the beans a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You should now have a creamy sauce with a nice tomato kick and a bit of spice – perfect to top a pizza with.

To prepare the pizza:
Bring the dough to room temperature before rolling it out on a floured surface to a 12-14″ diameter circle. Hint: Make sure that after you roll out the dough on your floured surface you transfer it to the pizza pan before topping it with the sauce and veggies. I learned this the hard way and had to struggle to transfer my beautifully decorated pizza to the pan before sticking it in the oven.

Once you have the dough rolled out and on your pizza pan, top with a generous helping of sauce and then add the veggies. I tossed the fresh veggies in a bit of olive oil and salt first. Bake according to the pizza dough instructions, which was about 10 minutes for the Il Fornaio brand. ENJOY!

I would love to hear what you think about this pizza and whether you missed the cheese. Write and tell me about it.

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