Pizza again? Well, kind of. I recently posted about making Homemade Pizzas using store-bought dough. I even went so far as to say:
Unless you have some heirloom pizza dough recipe that your grandparents brought over from Italy (my Polish grandparents had no such thing), I’d recommend leaving it to the professionals unless you’re feeling especially adventurous (or bored).Now, I'm sticking with the statement that it makes sense to buy fresh pizza dough at the store rather than making it at home. However, I'm going to be more specific and say that this belief applies to traditional pizza dough.
I also said:
Let the crust be your canvas...Again, pizza is a great place to experiment with different flavors and ingredients that can be used as toppings. However, I've recently learned that the pizza crust itself is also a great place to experiment with flavors and ingredients.
Meet the Corn Cake Pizza Crust. It's sweet, savory, crispy, and probably unlike any other pizza crust that you've had before. It's not made with cornbread, or even cornmeal (though I dusted the pizza pan with corn meal), but rather with fresh corn.
I had one fresh corn on the cob left over from the weekend, and I supplemented that with a bit of frozen corn, but you can use either of the two (or combine them like I did).
The alternative pizza crust discovery began when I read an interesting recipe for Zucchini-Crusted Pizza in the Moosewood Cookbook. I've been loving this cookbook since I picked it up at the library. I'm using the 1992 edition, which contains many of the original recipes from the Moosewood Cookbook published in 1977, but with some low-fat changes, which I always appreciate (makes my job even easier!).
I first became interested in Moosewood Cookbooks, and Mollie Katzen in particular, after reading an article entitled "The Radical Necessity of Cooking: Mollie Katzen, Vegetablist." As I read this article and Katzen's responses to a series of questions, I realized that I had found a kindred spirit. In the article she talks about the fact that while she cooks and publishes predominantly vegetarian recipes, she's not actually a vegetarian:
I’ve never said I was a vegetarian, or that anyone else should be one. What I have said is, here are some ways that you can go meatless if you want to...I will always eat vegetables and grain. I’m a vegetablist, a pro-vegetable person. But, I’m very tired of people who define themselves by what they don’t eat. For some, being vegetarian is more about the absence of meat and not about the presence of vegetables. I know plenty of vegetarians who don’t eat vegetables. I’m more interested in getting people to eat healthy food. I want to know: “What’s your attitude towards food, do you cook your own food, do you like it?”I loved this explanation about how being someone who eats a lot of vegetables and grains is inherently different from being someone who merely eliminates meat from their diet. I've been asked many times whether or not I'm a vegetarian (I'm not). I actually went vegetarian for a short period of time, but then I realized that it was pretty pointless. Becoming a vegetarian would be like the times when I actually chose to "give something up" for Lent as a kid - I never had a problem picking something to give up and sticking with it, I just had a problem figuring out why I was doing it.
To me, there's no honor in abstaining, only in positive action. As such, my goal for this blog is to develop recipes where vegetables and fruits predominate and high-quality meats make an occasional appearance.
Mollie Katzen has a book that was released in 2009 entitled "Get Cooking: 150 Simple Recipes to Get You Started in the Kitchen." In the article, she discusses what inspired her to write a book about the basics of cooking:
The very basic act of cooking is becoming a radical necessity. That’s why I wrote Get Cooking, because people asked me to lay out the simple basics of how to cook. I wanted to give people the tools they need to make easy recipes, four to five things you can cook well. It sounds simple, but that’s the key to people digging their way out of bad food. They need to know how to shop and how to make food in their busy day and in a small kitchen. I wish cooking was required in school, but until then, we’ve got to teach simple lessons.Mollie Katzen also has a website called Get Cooking, and she provides an extensive recipe archive to get you inspired to start cooking yourself.
I truly believe that cooking is the only way, short of hiring a health-conscious private chef, to get yourself and your family healthy, and I'm doing my best to participate in Katzen's movement from afar. These are my recipes, these are my experiences, and this is what I've learned along the way. Now, on to the pizza crust!
I tried the Zucchini-Crusted Pizza, and it was good, but not quite as good as I thought it could be. However, the idea of creating a pizza crust out of vegetables completely blew my mind. So I decided that it was worth experimenting.
Zucchini pizza crust is similar to a Zucchini Pancake recipe. I had made Zucchini Pancakes before and included corn in the batter, and they turned out really well. And then I was watching Giada's show yesterday and saw that she used a very similar recipe to the Zucchini Pizza Crust recipe to make Grilled Corn and Cheese Cakes. I decided that I would give the vegetable pizza crust another shot, this time using fresh (and some frozen) corn. The Corn Cake Pizza Crust was born.
Corn Cake Pizza Crust (Makes one 7.5-inch pizza crust)
2 cups corn, packed*
1 egg and 1 egg white, beaten**
2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons bread crumbs (preferably unseasoned)
1/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese (freshly grated if possible)
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese***
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon nonfat plain Greek yogurt (or low-fat sour cream)
Olive oil to brush the top of the crust (about one teaspoon)
Toppings: I used black beans, tomatoes, red peppers, red onion, and chicken sausage and then topped the pizza with some more mozzarella and cheddar. I tried to pick foods that would go well with corn, but I think you can really experiment with lots of different vegetables and cheeses.
*You can use fresh or frozen corn for this recipe. You will need about 2 ears of fresh corn. For frozen corn, thaw 2 cups of corn, and then pulse the corn in a food processor a few times to break it up, but don't puree it completely.
**I used one whole egg and one egg white, but you can use 2 whole eggs or only egg whites.
***I really recommend using high quality cheese when it's possible. I got this sharp cheddar cheese from Whole Foods and it had so much flavor.
When you use more flavorful cheeses, you'll be able to use less of them because they pack so much flavor.
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a pie dish (the kind that you'd put an apple or pumpkin pie in) with non-stick cooking spray or lightly coat it with olive oil. Sprinkle the dish with either breadcrumbs or cornmeal.
2. Combine corn, eggs, flour, breadcrumbs, mozzarella, cheddar, salt, pepper, and yogurt in a bowl and mix well. If the corn has too many whole kernels for the batter to come together, use a potato masher to break down some of the kernels.
3. Spread the mixture into your prepared pan, and really press down with your hands or a spatula to make sure that the top of the crust is even. Brush the top of the crust with olive oil, making sure the olive oil reaches the edges of the crust.
4. Bake the crust for about 35 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Turn the oven up to 450 degrees. Allow the crust to cool for 10 minutes.
5. Use a butter knife to loosen the edges of the crust from the pie dish, and then use the knife and a spatula to gently lift the crust out of the pie dish and place it on a non-stick pizza pan that you've sprinkled with cornmeal or flour. It helps to loosen the crust with the knife and get a spatula under the crust, and then hold the pie dish on an angle (using a potholder if the dish is hot) and gently slide the crust out onto the pizza pan.
6. Arrange your toppings on the crust, sprinkle a little extra mozzarella and cheddar on the top, and then bake the pizza at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. The crust and toppings should be heated through, and the cheese should be fully melted.
The result is a wonderfully crispy and flavorful pizza crust made primarily from vegetables. We totally devoured this pizza, with only a little bit left over for C to take to work for lunch.
I'm planning on making this again in the near future, but probably not before I give another vegetable a shot. Maybe potatoes with rosemary and Parmesan cheese next? Who knows.
I cut this pizza into 6 slices rather than 8 since it's smaller than a traditional 12-inch pizza. If you were serving this pizza to 4 people for dinner, you could cut it into 4 bigger pieces and then serve a salad on the side.
For each serving of the crust (1 slice out of 6 total slices), here are the nutrition facts:
Serving Size 83 g