Football was big this weekend: Broncos vs. Patriots, Saints vs. 49ers, Giants vs. Packers, Ravens vs. Texans. As I was flipping through cookbooks and food magazines to pick “the” recipe to kick-off this blog, I realized that there was no better meal to cook on a football packed Saturday night than pizza.
My approach to this particular pizza was simplicity. Baking gluten-free pizza dough from scratch is an adventure in and of itself. I will save that project for another day. At the store, I spotted a gluten-free product to put to the test: 8″ pizza crusts by Rustic Crust. In addition to containing no artificial preservatives, the two Napoli Herb pizza crusts are wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and lightly seasoned with parsley, basil, and roasted garlic. So, how did it pan out? (Note: All puns on this blog will be intended).
One of the best pizzas I ever tasted was from a small restaurant in the beach town of Livorno, Italy (I come from a military family, and we have spent many years in Europe. They have set the bar on food). A very close second was from a little Italian restaurant in Hanover, MD called Cantina Mamma Lucia (it’s still there, but they don’t have any gluten-free pizza options; I called). These two pizzas stick out in my mind because the sauce was fresh and relatively unseasoned. When I bite into a pizza, I want to taste tomatoes and see images of summer dance in my mind. Pizza sauce packed with oregano, basil, and garlic is not my forte. In keeping with the theme of simplicity, I purchased a can of crushed tomatoes from Furmano’s as I have always been pleased with their products…and also because it’s winter and fresh tomatoes are non-existent at the farmer’s market. We foodies must make do, I suppose.
With the pizza base settled upon, the fun part is next: toppings! Oh, the options are just endless. Boston’s The Squealing Pig Pub (an old haunt of mine) demonstrates just that with their funky and delicious pizza selections. I’m a big fan of mushrooms and olives on a pizza, so I brushed my portobello mushrooms with a little olive oil and sliced up black olives before decorating the two crusts. The final pre-oven step was adding a few rounded “dots” (kudos to the reader who can think of a better word) of Buffalo Mozzarella. Before dining on the first slice, I topped the pizza with fresh arugula. I love the earthy flavor that arugula adds to any dish. Fun Fact: Arugula was grown by the Romans for both the leaves and the seeds, which they used to flavor oil. So, the final verdict?
Rustic Crust’s gluten-free crust was incredibly tasty. It didn’t have that grainy, sandy texture that often accompanies gluten-free baked goods. The crust had an equal balance of softness and crunch. I would purchase it again, although I must note that the pizza crust didn’t slice very well…hence the not so attractive picture below. Instead of slicing, the pizza literally broke into fragments. Even when I held up a large piece above my plate to eat, the crust couldn’t bear the weight of the toppings. Perhaps this crust is better suited for a light tomato and cheese pizza rather than mushrooms, olives, and arugula.
A slice of oven hot pizza just isn’t complete without a cold, refreshing beer. Alas, I thought my beer drinking days were over until my boyfriend–known on this blog as “C”–bought Redbridge, a gluten-free sorghum beer made by Anheuser-Busch (he’s so thoughtful). It’s no Dogfish Head 90 IPA (sigh), but beggars can’t be choosy. For a gluten-free beer, it’s pretty tasty and damn refreshing. Oooo, how’s that for a product tagline?
Gluten-Free Mushroom-Olive-Arugula Pizza
Two 8″ gluten-free pizza crusts
1 14.5 oz can of unseasoned diced tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil (enough to lightly coat two crusts)
Buffalo Mozarella, arugula, sliced mushrooms and black olives according to preference
Pecorino-Romano cheese, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450 degree F.
2. Brush pizza crusts lightly with extra virgin olive oil.
3. Spoon unseasoned crushed tomatoes over crust, spreading evenly.
4. Add a few “dots” of Buffalo Mozzarella around the pizza. (The mozzarella will melt and spread, so I used the cheese sparingly).
5. Brush portobello mushroom slices with extra virgin olive oil, and either slice black olives or buy the pre-sliced cans. Decorate around the pizza.
6. Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and place pizza directly on the oven rack.
7. Bake for about 12-14 minutes until golden brown.
8. Cool slightly, then top with fresh arugula and Locatelli Pecorino-Romano cheese