Hotel Donaldson’s Signature Lavosh ala Suzanne


I’ve made a lot of pizza crusts in my life. Sometimes thick, sometimes thin, and all sorts of in between. But until a few days ago, I had never made a cracker thin crust or anything resembling lavosh (an Armenian cracker bread or flatbread, either yeasted or unleavened). Never really thought about making it either until I was inspired by the always inspirational Sarah Nasello. She and her husband Tony write a weekly food column in the The Forum, and this week it included a recipe for the Hotel Donaldson’s Signature Lavosh.

The Hotel Donaldson (HoDo for short) is a trendy boutique hotel in cool downtown Fargo, North Dakota (yes, I said cool and North Dakota in the same sentence!), that is home to both a great casual restaurant/bar and wonderful fine dining restaurant. No visit to Fargo is complete without a visit to HoDo.

After reading Sarah’s column, my mind immediately thought of combining the recipe with yummy Shaved Asparagus Pizza from the super talented Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook—one of the most used in my collection.

With it being asparagus season, I just made the pizza a few days ago and used smoked mozzarella for the first time, along with the addition of shaved fennel. Wow, did that rock! Figuring if I lightened up the topping volume and added some spring color from shaved radishes, this would make the perfect “Suzanne” version of Signature Lavosh.

I made the dough exactly as the recipe was written, with the exception of adding ½ cup whole wheat flour in place of some of the all-purpose flour—I just feel less guilt about anything in the pizza family if I can say, “But it’s whole grain.” And even though this is a yeast dough, there’s no need to let the dough rise when using instant yeast.

This is a really nice dough to work with, but not having a pasta roller, I was a bit worried about getting it rolled thin enough. No need—it rolled out beautifully. It’s probably not quite as thin as it would be through a pasta roller, but it’s darn thin and got nice and crispy like lavosh should be. My mom offered to bring the pasta roller they haven’t used in years when they come for Easter, and I think I will take her up on that. The difference will be interesting to see.

Sarah’s recipe also mentions running a dough docker, which I had to google to find out what it was, across each rolled out piece of dough. It’s a spikey roller thing that will help keep air bubbles from forming as your lavosh bakes. Instead I poked the dough all over with a large meat fork and it seemed to do the trick.

The cheeses you top the lavosh with can be switched up to your liking and/or what you have on hand. Directly on top of the flatbread I used a mixture of half smoked mozzarella and half regular, plus I sprinkled a little fresh parmesan over the vegetables.

Speaking of vegetables, you could vary them as well. Any spring veggies that can be shaved super thin with a mandolin or vegetable peeler would work. The combo of asparagus, fennel, and radish was delicious and pretty, and I could see carrot or red onion put in the mix as well. Just keep in mind not to top this like a more heartily-crusted pizza. The lavosh is light and somewhat delicate, so you don’t want to weigh it down with heavy toppings.

Another change from Sarah’s original recipe I made was to increase the oven temperature. I used half the dough the first night following the 350-degree instruction for convection ovens (375 for regular). When I made the remaining dough into lavosh the next night, I increased the temp to 400 in my convection oven, so non-convection would be 425 degrees F. My results were better with the higher temperature. And I did use a pizza stone.

This light, cracker-crisp lavosh with wisps of spring veggies and a light sprinkling of cheese is the perfect first-peek-of-warm-weather supper accompanied by a nice glass of rosé. Enjoy!


Hotel Donaldson's Signature Lavosh ala Suzanne

Adapted from the Hotel Donaldson’s Signature Lavosh and the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook’s Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Lavosh:
1 cup water, lukewarm (not hot)

1 teaspoon instant dry yeast

1 ½ teaspoons honey

1 ½ teaspoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute up to ½ cup with whole wheat flour)

½ cup semolina flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. (400 for convection ovens). If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven now. Otherwise, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl, place the yeast on the bottom and then add the water. Allow the water to fully saturate the yeast, then add the honey, followed by the melted butter (make sure it is not hot).

Add the dry ingredients one at a time starting with the flour, then the semolina and adding the salt and pepper on top. Use the dough hook attachment to knead the dough until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough becomes soft and pliable, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Portion dough into desired serving size (I portioned it into 4 servings, about 8 oz. portions each, and used 2 for the toppings below and refrigerated the other half to make more the next day). (The Hotel Donaldson uses 4-ounce portions to create a single serving approximately 4 inches wide and 12 to 14 inches long, and you can vary the size according to your needs.)

Gently knead each portion into a ball, then lightly flatten into a disk. Use dough immediately or wrap each portion in plastic and refrigerate for up to one week. To freeze, place wrapped disks in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for at least one month. Allow dough to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

If using a pasta roller, the dough performs best when chilled first, so refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. If rolling by hand with a rolling pin, room temperature dough is best.

To make the lavosh, run each disk of dough through a pasta roller, starting on the #3 or #4 setting, and then decrease the setting and run through again until it is thin enough to run through the lowest setting, until the sheet of dough achieves a desired thinness of 1/8-inch or lower.

If not using a pasta roller, generously flour your counter (or a silicone baking mat) and use a floured rolling pin to roll dough super thin, no thicker than 1/8th inch, into the desired size. While you’re rolling, check occasionally to make sure dough isn’t stuck to the floured surface.

Place each dough sheet on pizza stone or baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each. Before placing in the oven, run a dough docker across each sheet, or use a fork to gently create holes evenly over the dough.

Bake for 6 to 9 minutes until lightly golden on the edges. Remove from oven to a cooling rack until ready for your toppings.

Toppings for half a batch of the lavosh dough made into 2 flatbreads:
1/2 to 1/3 pound of asparagus spears, thicker stalks work best

½ a medium fennel bulb, trimmed

About 4 larger radishes

A couple teaspoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil (the kind you reserve for drizzling or bread-dipping)

A pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Three scallions, white and green parts, sliced

A total of about 6-8 ounces shredded mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, and parmesan (or other cheese(s) of choice)

Using the end of each asparagus spear that you would normally trim off as a handle, lay the asparagus flat on a cutting board and peel off thin “shavings” with a vegetable peeler. Once the spear gets too small to continue peeling, cut the rest of each spear into super thin strips, discarding the tough “handle” end.

Slice fennel and radishes a little thicker than paper thin on a mandolin, or if you don’t have a mandolin, use a sharp knife. Place all veggies in a medium bowl and toss with olive oil, red pepper flakes, if using, and salt & pepper.

Top each lavosh with a light layer of shredded cheese(s) (reserving some for sprinkling over the veggies). Place a layer of veggies (dividing evenly between the two flatbreads) over cheese and sprinkle with reserved cheese (I used freshly grated parmesan).

Bake 5-8 minutes, until cheese is melted and lavosh crisps a bit more. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with scallions. Slice and serve. Makes 2-4 servings.

Roasted Squash, Apple, Spinach, Caramelized Onion Pizza

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnyone who knows me or who reads my blog knows I love pizza. And the thing I love most about pizza is cheese. Sure, my pizza recipes are chock full o’ veggies, my crust is always whole grain (or whole vegetable in the case of cauliflower crust pizza), and overall, healthier than your typical pizzeria grease bomb, but cheese is consistently front and center. Until now.

The basis for this recipe popped up in Friday’s New York Times Cooking email and being it was from one of my favorite vegan chefs, Chloe Coscarelli, it caught my attention. What sealed the deal was everything this pizza called for was already in the fridge or pantry and there would be no need for a stop at the store to make it our Friday-night-after-work-dinner, prepared while enjoying a beginning-of-the-weekend glass of wine. I’ll stop with the hyphenated phrases now.

This pizza has no cheese, but I guarantee, you won’t miss it. The saucy white bean puree provides a tang and richness making cheese unnecessary. Yes, I said that. This cheese-is-the-best-thing-about-pizza person said that (okay, NOW, I’ll stop with the hyphenated phrases).

Experience has taught me to always read comments included after an online recipe and in this case, it brought a suggestion taking the flavors over the top. The idea of drizzling with a balsamic reduction when the pizza comes out of the oven is spot on and that made me think an additional drizzle of good quality olive oil (the kind you reserve for drizzles or dipping, not cooking) would be a great addition as well.

Most of this recipe can be made in advance, so you can eat at a reasonable weeknight time if you plan ahead. The white bean purée can be made up to a couple days in advance, the squash can be roasted the day before, and if you’re doing a homemade pizza crust, your dough will benefit from an overnight slow rise in the fridge. Even the balsamic reduction can be made ahead of time as well, and refrigerated until needed. The result is a hearty, filling, pizza-craving-satisfied meal, and you won’t miss the cheese! Enjoy!
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Roasted Squash, Apple, Spinach, Caramelized Onion Pizza

  • Servings: One 12-inch pizza
  • Print
Based on this NYT Cooking Chloe Coscarelli recipe

Garlic White Bean Purée:
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 large or two small cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons water

Pizza:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 apple, diced

Dough:
Pizza dough, preferably whole wheat (store-bought is fine, or make your own)

Drizzles:
Balsamic reduction (in a small saucepan, bring 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue simmering until reduced to 1/3 cup. Unused portion can be refrigerated for another use.)
Good tasting olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Make the Garlic White Bean Purée by blending the beans, oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper in a food processor. Add water, as needed, until a smooth consistency forms. Set aside. Can be made up to two days in advance.

Place squash on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes until squash is fork-tender, turning once with a spatula. Remove from oven and set aside.

Turn oven heat up to 450 degrees F. Place pizza stone in oven, if using.

While squash is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté onions until soft and lightly caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Stretch or roll homemade or store-bought pizza dough into a 12-inch circle. Spread a layer of the garlic white bean purée evenly over the dough. (You will only use about half of the purée—use the rest as a dip for veggies or pita chips.) On top of the dough, arrange the spinach, caramelized onions, roasted butternut squash and diced apple. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake on pizza stone or pizza pan at 450 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time, until the crust is golden. Remove from oven and drizzle pizza with balsamic reduction and good quality olive oil. Slice and serve. Makes one 12-inch pizza.

 

Mushroom, Beet and Swiss Chard Crêpes

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This recipe came about with a need to use a few produce items in the fridge that wouldn’t last much longer. Swiss chard and mushrooms became a staple combination in our house last summer using the beautiful chard we grew. Missing those flavors, I picked up some chard and oyster mushrooms at the store with the intention of using them in that night’s dinner.

Fast-forward almost a week and I still hadn’t done that. Pete working overtime and then my being out of town for work got in the way. Last Thursday I remembered those delicious ingredients while at work and planned out that night’s meal in my head. A little fresh parmesan and some beets would go into the mixture, along with my new favorite, whole wheat angel hair pasta. It was a great week night dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day.

With beets being such a tasty addition to that Swiss chard-mushroom mix, I wanted to make it again, but amp it up a bit given the extra time I had for cooking on the weekend. Crêpes came to mind, thinking this would be the perfect filling for thin and savory French pancakes.

Because of the red and green color combination, it also seemed a fitting dish for the Christmas season. A dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of lemon zest on top, and you’ve got yourself one visually appealing and scrumptious meal. And it’s special enough for company, which I hope you’ll have lots of during the holidays. Enjoy!
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Mushroom, Beet and Swiss Chard Crêpes

If you want to give your crêpes an extra pretty touch, reserve a ¼ cup of the shredded beets and a little Swiss chard, chopped extra fine, to add along with the crème fraiche and lemon zest for garnish. The unfilled crêpes can be made ahead of time, wrapped and refrigerated for a day or two or frozen, tightly-wrapped, for up to a month.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ a large onion or one whole small onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz. mushrooms (maitake, oyster, crimini), or a mixture of all three, chopped

½ a large bunch, or whole bunch if small, Swiss chard, large rib removed and sliced into ribbons

1 large beet, peeled and shredded

Salt & pepper, to taste

8 oz. fontina cheese, shredded (gruyère or parmesan would work as well)

Crêpes, recipe follows

Crème fraiche

Micro-planed zest of one lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Stir in the beets and mushrooms and cook about 2 more minutes. Mix in the Swiss chard and cook another 2-3 minutes or so, until the chard is tender. Add additional salt, along with freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

To serve, place a cooked crêpe in a skillet over medium heat and sprinkle about a quarter cup of the shredded cheese down the center (the first-cooked side of the crêpe is usually prettiest, so make that the outside). Cover pan and let crepe warm and cheese melt, about a minute. Spoon chard-mushroom filling down the center and roll. Top with a dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of lemon zest.

Alternately, you could preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and fill crêpes with cheese and filling, roll, and place in a baking dish. Bake until hot, about 20 minutes. Move crêpes to serving plates and garnish as described above.

Crêpes
Recipe from Myra Goodman’s The Earthbound Cook, one of my favorite cookbooks.

1 cup plus one tablespoon, whole wheat pastry flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 ¼ cup whole milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Additional melted butter for the crêpe pan

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add eggs and milk and whisk until mixed. Whisk in melted butter and continue whisking until the batter is very smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

Place a cast iron skillet or crêpe pan over medium heat and when hot, brush with some melted butter. Pour or ladle ¼ cup of batter into the center of the pan, lift the pan off the stove, and tilt and swirl the pan so that the batter spreads thinly across the bottom of the pan in a widening circle; don’t worry if the crêpe isn’t a perfect circle (and in my experience, the first crêpe never turns out pretty, but the rest do).

Cook until tiny bubbles begin to appear in the crêpe batter; depending on how hot your pan is, the crêpe will be ready to flip in 30-45 seconds. With a spatula, lift up a corner of the crêpe to check if the cooked surface is lightly golden around the edges, and if so, flip. Cook the second side about 30 seconds. Remove crêpe to a platter, with a sheet of wax paper or parchment between each crêpe. Continue with remaining batter. Makes about 8 crêpes.

Tomato Corn Skillet Pie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust

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With the bonanza of tomatoes our garden is producing, I’ve been searching for recipes beyond sauces, jams, and chutneys, looking for a main dish where the tomatoes could be the star of the show.

101 Cookbooks, one of my go-to sources, had my mouth watering with this Tomato Tart Tatin recipe. I imagined it with the addition of fresh sweet corn and easily topped with packaged puff pastry from my freezer. The harissa and lemon zest options intrigued me, as well, and I went to bed Sunday night excited to make this after work on Monday.

Fast forward to Monday, 5:00 PM, apron on and ready to get cooking, and I pull the box of puff pastry out of the freezer. Damn! It’s not puff pastry! It’s phyllo dough. Shoot—that’s just not going to work. I didn’t feel like driving to the store either. My sails were totally deflated!

I thought about making a homemade pie crust, but that’s more butter than I wanted in my dinner (yes, I know the puff pastry probably had just as much, but I wouldn’t have seen it all by itself sitting in front of me). Then I remembered in the notes of Heidi’s recipe, she mentioned this would be good with a biscuit crust. Bingo! How about a cheddar biscuit crust!?! Yes, please!

I haven’t made enough biscuits to be able to pull a batch together without a recipe, but after a quick Google search, I had a plan to adapt the biscuit crust from this Epicurious recipe. Subbing half the all-purpose with whole wheat pastry flour would make it a little healthier, and I decided to reduce the butter a bit too. Skim milk with a little apple cider vinegar would replace the buttermilk I didn’t have, and all was once again right in my culinary world.

Considering all my starts and stops, this came together quickly and we were eating before evening starvation mode set in. Enjoy!
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Tomato Corn Skillet Pie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust

Adapted from these 101 Cookbooks and Epicurious recipes

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kernels cut from one ear fresh sweet corn

1 1/2 pounds (24 oz. small tomatoes)—I used larger cherry tomatoes from our garden)

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

2 tablespoons harissa (or 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar)

1 tablespoon flour

Zest of ½ a lemon

Cheddar Biscuit Crust (recipe follows)

Garnish with chopped fresh herbs (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 C).

Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions and a couple pinches of salt, stirring regularly, until the onions are deeply golden and caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Stir in corn during the last minute or two of cooking. Remove from heat.

While the onions are cooking, cut any larger cherry tomatoes in half. You can leave the extra small cherry tomatoes whole. Add to the caramelized onions and corn, along with the ½ teaspoon sea salt and harissa. Stir in the flour and sprinkle mixture with lemon zest.

Plop spoonsful of biscuit dough over the tomato mixture, until it’s evenly covered and you’ve used all the dough. Bake until the crust is deeply golden and the tomatoes are bubbling a bit at the sides, 25 – 30 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Cheddar Biscuit Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup shredded parmesan

5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk (I used skim milk mixed with a tablespoon cider vinegar; let stand 5 minutes after mixing)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add cheeses and toss to coat. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir just until a dough forms.

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette

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2016 was the first summer Swiss chard has graced our garden, but it certainly won’t be the last. I’ve had fun incorporating it into many dishes, but my favorite is to pair it with mushrooms. After recently cutting several large bunches of chard and enjoying it with mushrooms in pasta, I decided to look for a little different recipe for this delicious combination. The one that rose to the top after googling “Swiss chard mushroom recipes,” was a savory galette from Epicurious.

I’ve made dessert galettes several times, using pre-packaged puff pastry, for an easy and impressive (looking and tasting) fruit-filled treat, but a savory galette with homemade crust was new to me. No stranger to pastry from scratch recipes, this didn’t intimidate, but excited me, especially because it included whole wheat flour—that always makes me feel a little less guilty about a butter crust. And if pastry from scratch intimidates you, a galette is a great way to hone your skills because the rolled shape needn’t be exactly round like a pie.

The dough needs to chill for at least two hours and can be kept in the fridge for up to two days, an ideal make-ahead aspect to this recipe. I made the dough in the morning for a same-day supper.

Don’t be tempted to skip the little herb salad topping after the galette is cooked—it adds another layer of flavor and really boosts this to rock star recipe status. Enjoy!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette

Slightly adapted from this recipe

Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (one stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Galette:
3/4 cup ricotta

¼ cup Boursin cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 ounces maitake mushrooms, torn, and/or crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 large bunch Swiss chard, ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into bite-size pieces

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

All-purpose flour (for parchment)

1 large egg, beaten to blend

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup mixed fresh tender herbs (such as flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, dill, and/or chives)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

For whole wheat dough:
Pulse all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl; drizzle with vinegar and 1/4 cup ice water. Mix with a fork, adding more ice water by the tablespoonful if needed, just until a shaggy dough comes together; lightly knead until no dry spots remain (do not overwork). Pat into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 2 hours.

DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For galette:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix ricotta and Boursin; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add half of chard, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing, until slightly wilted. Add remaining chard and cook, tossing occasionally, until completely wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment to a 14″ round about 1/8″ thick. Transfer on parchment to a baking sheet. Spread three-fourths of ricotta/Boursin mixture over dough, leaving a 1 1/2″ border. Top with reserved chard, then mushrooms. Dollop remaining ricotta over vegetables. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bring edges of dough up and over filling, overlapping as needed, to create a 1 1/2″ border; brush crust with egg. Bake galette, rotating once, until crust is golden brown and cooked through, 35–40 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet.

Toss herbs with lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl; season with pepper. Top galette with herb salad, zest, and sea salt. Makes 4-6 servings.

Quinoa Crust Pizza

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A few weeks ago one of my healthy-food-loving friends tagged me in a link on Facebook to a Cooking Light video for quinoa pizza crust and asked what I thought of it. I’ve done the labor-intensive cauliflower crust pizza with good results, but had never considered quinoa an option.

Intrigued, I opened the link and had to try it. The original recipe uses a 9” round pan and looked to produce a crust thicker than my preference, so the first time I followed the recipe, but used a 10” cast iron skillet. It wasn’t thin enough, so next time, I upped the amount of quinoa to a cup and did the round free-form on parchment over a pizza stone, resulting in a bigger and thinner crust that gets perfectly crisp. You could do it the same way on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

The outcome is a nicely-thin 11-12 inch pizza, just right as a full meal for two or a lighter meal for three. You’ll have to plan ahead a bit because the quinoa needs a good eight hours or more soaking time (I start the soaking in the morning before leaving for work), but once that’s done, the recipe is quick and incredibly easy. Sometimes I add flavor-enhancers like nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and/or dried oregano before whirring the batter up in the food processor, but it’s good without as well.

Having recently come across and made some recipes for vegan, nut-based cheeses, a few vegan quinoa crust pizzas have come out of my kitchen and that’s the kind of frequent pizza eating I can get behind. Regardless of whether you use conventional toppings, go gourmet, or do a vegan pie, you’ll like this recipe and it just happens to be gluten-free.

It’s not going to 100% replace the authentic yeast-risen, flour laden, carb bombs I so love, but this protein and fiber filled version has us eating homemade pizza more often and more pizza is always a good thing! Enjoy!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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A quick mention on the quinoa—any color works. I first made a white quinoa crust, after that used red quinoa and then got all excited when I saw multi-colored quinoa at Trader Joe’s cuz I knew it would make a pretty crust.

Quinoa Crust Pizza

Adapted from Cooking Light

1 cup uncooked quinoa (any color)

1/3 cup water

1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional, but gives a bit of a cheesy taste)

½ teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

½ teaspoon dried oregano (optional)

Place quinoa in a bowl and add enough water to cover it. Cover bowl with a tea towel or paper towel and let soak at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray paper with cooking spray.

Drain quinoa and rinse thoroughly (rinsing removes any bitter taste from the quinoa).

In the bowl of a food processor place quinoa, 1/3 cup water, baking powder, salt, and if using, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and oregano.

Run the food processor for several minutes (2-3), stopping to scrape the sides down a few times, until you have a smooth batter.

Pour batter onto parchment and, using a spatula, form the batter into an 11-12 inch round. Bake for 15 minutes, remove pan from oven and invert the crust onto baking sheet and peel off parchment. Return to oven for about 5 more minutes.

Remove from oven and add toppings of your choice (you may want to turn the original top side of the crust up, it will be prettier). Return to oven for 5-7 minutes until desired level of doneness/crispness. You can turn your oven to broil the last minute or two, but watch it carefully if you do.

Remove from oven and cut into wedges. Serves 2-3.

Orange Tofu Tacos with Tomatillo Pineapple Salsa

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With Cinco de Mayo this week, Mexican recipes have been on my radar. Particularly a tomatillo pineapple salsa in New York Times Cooking from an organic farmer who operates just down the road from us in Stillwater, MN.

The only ingredient I was worried might be hard to find was the padrón or shishito peppers. Not sure what either type looked like, I relied on the signs at the best-stocked grocery store near me. No padrón peppers, but there was a good supply of peppers with a sign that said shishito on the bin. The cashier had trouble finding the code for the habanero pepper so she had to call a manager. The manager then told her the other peppers were anaheims. I said no, the sign said shishito. He then broke the news to me that they were out of shishitos and replaced them with anaheims and hadn’t changed the sign. Disappointed, I said I couldn’t use the anaheims, and asked if they could put them back. Sure, they said.

On my way out the grocery store door, I was trying to figure out where to go for the peppers and the produce guy comes running out with the bag of anaheims saying that for the inconvenience of having the peppers labeled wrong, I could have the peppers I had bagged up, at no cost. He said they would make a suitable substitution for padrón or shishito peppers. Not one to turn down free produce, I accepted the offer and thanked him.

Turns out I couldn’t find the right peppers after checking two other stores, so I decided to go ahead with the salsa using my free anaheims. It’s delicious and I’m not so sure it would be better had I found the right peppers.

To incorporate the salsa into a full meal, I pan-fried some tofu and simmered it in orange juice before adding some of the salsa to make a flavorful “meat” for some vegan tacos that had a lot going on. But all the components came together for the best tofu dish I’ve had in years.

The salsa was the only putzy part of the process, but if you make it a day or two in advance, dinner will come together fast enough for a weeknight. The recipe makes a lot more than you will need for this one meal, so feel free to half it. I’ve also found tomatillo salsa freezes well.
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While the tofu is frying/simmering, you can get your taco accompaniments ready, using whatever you prefer or have on hand.
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A few days ago I used up some macadamia nuts and cashews lurking in the back of the freezer and made this macadamia nut ricotta and a vegan parmesan cheese from the awesome Minimalist Baker blog. Great vegan substitutes and believe me, you won’t miss the dairy.

I rounded things out with whole wheat flour tortillas and lettuce, radicchio, scallions, tomato and radish. Avocado would be great too. Enjoy! And happy Cinco de Mayo!

Orange Tofu Tacos with Tomatillo Pineapple Salsa


Salsa recipe from Eduardo Rivera, as published in the New York Times

1 pound tomatillos (about 6 medium)

6 Padrón peppers or shishito peppers), stems removed, or 3 anaheims, cut in chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup diced pineapple

1 habanero pepper, stem removed

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon salt, more to taste

1 cup diced onion

½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse well. Halve the tomatillos and Padrón or shishito peppers (if using anaheims, cut them in big chunks).

Set a skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the tomatillos, peppers, pineapple, habanero pepper, garlic, oregano and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until everything starts to char, 6-8 minutes.

Once charred, transfer the contents of the skillet to a blender or food processor and add 1/2 cup water. Blend until almost puréed. Pour mixture into a bowl and chill for 1 hour.

Stir in onion, cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt to taste.

Orange Tofu
1 pound extra-firm tofu

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup orange juice, fresh squeezed, if possible

Whole wheat flour tortillas or corn tortillas for a gluten-free version

Toppings such as lettuce, radishes, tomato, scallion, vegan or dairy cheese, avocado

Unwrap and place block of tofu on a plate lined with several layers of paper towels. Put more paper towels on top of tofu place a small cutting board on top. Weigh down the cutting board with a large can or books for 20-30 minutes. After tofu has been pressed, blot it dry and cut it into bite-sized cubes.

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the tofu and cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally for even browning. Reduce heat to medium and add orange juice. Let simmer for several minutes until orange juice has mostly simmered away.

Stir about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the salsa into the tofu. Let simmer for several minutes until it thickens up a bit.

Warm your tortillas in a damp tea towel in the microwave or, in batches, over low heat in a medium pan.

Place orange tofu mixture on warm tortillas and add toppings of your choice. Makes 3-4 servings.