Wholefood Pizza Three Ways: Quinoa with Roasted Eggplant and Pomegranate, Spelt Traditional and Mushroom Faux Pizza

I have gone a little pizza crazy this week. It’s the food matters project‘s fault really for laying on such as fabulously broad topic this week – Mostly Whole Wheat Pizza (check out the full recipe here).

I wanted to make a gluten-free option, but I didn’t want to use the normal array of gluten-free flours and tapioca blends. I was planning on using a blend of quinoa and spelt flours, until I found a recipe using brown rice and decided I had to make it with cooked quinoa! I have touted the wonders of quinoa before, don’t get me started again, SO GOOD!

For the topping, I have been lusting after a particular eggplant and pomegranate dip from Ottolenghi’s book for a couple of weeks now, but since pizzas were on the menu and I am currently pomegranate obsessed, why not fashion it into a pizza topping? 

Quinoa Crust
(Makes enough for 1 small pizza)
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1 egg
1/2 tsp dried herbs (I used oregano)
1 tbs nutritional yeast (or 2 tbs parmesan)

1/2 eggplant
1/2 tabs lemon juice
2 tbs tahini
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses
big pinch of sea salt
drizzle of olive oil
a little water
fresh thyme leaves

Chop the eggplant into chunks and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes or until eggplant is tender.

While this is cooking away, combine all other ingredients and adjust with the water, oil, salt and pomegranate molasses to get a fabulously sweet/sour/salty taste explosion.

For the base, combine ingredients and spread onto a lined baking tray, shaping into the pizza shape of your choice. Press it out to be around 1/2 centimetre thick, or as thin as you can make it without any gaps in the mixture.

Pop it into the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, or until the base has started to brown and crisp up. 

Take the base out of the oven, spread on the tahini spread, top with the eggplant and tomato if using, and transfer it to a pizza tray/stone if you have one. Give it another 7 – 10 minutes in the oven to finish crisping. The crispier the better in my opinion.

Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and add a final drizzle of olive oil to finish. Delish! This would also be amazing with the spelt base.

I made one with a more traditional veg topping which was delicious too.

Also, you could substitute any cooked grain for the quinoa. Such a versatile base that you could keep ‘crisping’ to turn into little crisps for dips, or make into mini versions and add some sweeter flavours for a take on pikelets. Love it!

The second ‘way’ is the Spelt pizza base. 

Why use spelt? Spelt is an ancient relative of wheat, only it has not been hybridised, processed and manipulated like wheat often is. Those with wheat sensitivities and intolerances can often tolerate spelt. This is due to a number of reasons. The gluten in spelt is broken down far easier than the gluten in wheat. The grain grows with a thick husk to protect it from insects and other pollutants, and so it is therefore often not treated with pesticides and other chemicals. It also has a highly water soluble fibre that is easily and efficiently assimilated by the body, cool!

Spelt wins in the nutrient profile stakes, being higher in protein, fibre, magnesium and B vitamins, hooray! You can substitute spelt into any recipe calling for wheat, and it is available in white and wholemeal varieties.

So, for my spelt pizza base, I was extremely lucky to have the use of my Dad’s home-made pizza oven. How fabulous is it! We also cooked some pumpkin in there which was just divine!! It’s so lovely to have that connection with your food, and to cook it in such a communal way. Especially when research is showing those that live the longest and healthiest lives are those that eat meals sitting down in the company of others. Sounds simple, but it’s something that a lot of people don’t do. I’m not saying that I never eat standing up, in the car, in a rush – it’s hard to avoid sometimes. But it’s a wonderful goal to have, and your digestion, body and mind will thank you for it!

Spelt Pizza Base
(makes one pizza base)

1 cup spelt flour
3/4 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tablespoons oil
1 tsp honey or maple syrup
1/3 cup warm water (plus a little extra if needed)

Combine the flour, yeast and baking powder. Add remaining ingredients and mix until it becomes a dough – add a little extra water or flour at this point if the dough is too sticky or too dry).

Place in a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave the dough in a warm place for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Knead the dough a little more and roll out to your desired size and thickness.

Load on your toppings (I used home-made tomato sauce with chunky veg, capsicum, mushrooms, caramelised leeks, spinach leaves and cheese).
Bake in the oven – on a pizza stone if you have one – until base is crisp to your liking. Yummo!

The third ‘way’ is a grain-free faux pizza, using a field mushroom as the base. This was so delicious! Into a handful of fresh ricotta mix 1 clove of chopped garlic, 1/2 chopped tomato, a large handful of basil, sea salt and black pepper to taste, and into the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes.

Top with some roughly chopped walnuts and pumpkin seeds and you have a little gluten-free garlicky delight!

P.S. Here is a cheeky fourth ‘way’, little sweet potato mini pizzas. Just slice and roast the sweet potato brushed in a little oil until tender, dress accordingly and bake or grill until fabulous!

So there you have a few takes on the mighty pizza. Check out what the other wonderful food matters project members have done too.

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