There’s no meal like pizza!

Pizza might not be a vegetable, despite some governmental confusion a while back, but there are healthy ways to prepare this special treat without loading up on fat and calories. Pizza is also a great meal to eat before a long run or other athletic endeavor, especially if you load it up with veggies.

Another bonus? When it comes to pleasing the family, there’s scarcely a meal that does it better than pizza. And many times, pizza doesn’t require a trip to the grocery — simply mix and match ingredients to find a slice that will please everyone.

Our Favorite

When we make pizza at home, we almost always start with a pesto base. You can either make pesto home-made or buy it already prepared. When it’s not basil season, we buy the Costco version that tastes great and doesn’t break the bank. Just make sure you “cut” it with some olive oil as I think the flavor can be a bit too strong otherwise.

Whatever ingredients you add to your pizza is really up to you. You can add roasted garlic, red peppers, eggplant or whatever tickles your fancy. I really enjoy portabella mushrooms. Other must-haves are chicken and capers, and Luke likes to keep it simple with chicken only. I find that caramelized onions makes any pizza taste good, and a variety of cheeses adds a depth in flavor (e.g., mozzarella, goat and parm). You can even add fresh arugula and a balsamic glaze after it comes out of the oven for a flavorful twist.

The recipe

First, make the Pizza Dough. You can always buy ready-made dough at a local pizza joint or possibly the market, but I prefer to make mine from scratch. I often use a mixture of whole wheat and white flour because it feels healthier! It takes dough a couple of hours to rise, so be sure and prepare it in advance.

Pre-heat oven! For best results, pre-heat at 450 or 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Before you roll the dough, be sure to assemble any ingredients that need preparation or cooking. So caramelize the onions, pan fry the capers, roast the garlic and/or saute the mushrooms. You could even roast tomatoes and red peppers. Again, whatever you like and/or have on hand.

Top the dough with diluted pesto mixture. Add mozzarella cheese (I strongly prefer fresh mozzarella and think it yields a much better flavor). Next comes the veggies/meats. Then sprinkle goat cheese and parmesan on top. As you can see from the photo below, I have sorted ingredients according to family preference, without having to make 2 or more pizzas.

Bake pizza about 12-15 minutes, till it’s bubbly and golden.

Serve alongside a salad and glass of wine/beer!

Melinda Hinson