Healthy pizza? debate!

I mean honestly is there such a thing? Pizza is hardly sinful it just seems to have a rather bad reputation and even worse PR team behind it. Homemade with organic flour, fresh tomato sauce and well sourced mozzarella it packs rather a good punch and depending what you put on top may even tick a few of your ‘5 a day’ or are we on to ‘8’? Talking of which I can’t keep up with food fads and trends, policy and directives from our government. What I do know and what my creed tells me, is the less written on it the better. Take simple ‘in season’ fruit and vegetables – organically grown and ideally locally sourced – you won’t see any writing on them. The problems arise when one tries to squeeze them into modern-day style eating, packed in a tin with preservatives, sugar and salt, cooked within an inch of their lives to be added into some ready meal. It’s common sense really. Food, particularly fruit, vegetables, meat and fish should not have a list of ingredients on it with the exception of a use by date!

IMG_0145Rant, rant, rant. Well I have just finished reading ‘Eat your Heart Out’ the not so palatable story behind the globalisation of our farming industry. It certainly makes you think before you shop. On a brighter note ‘Daylesford’, the epitome of organic, old England and where our food should come from, has just launched their ‘Mini Meals’ range. Quite delicious. Rarely, actually to be honest, never, have I bought a ‘ready meal’ as such for the pink and blue but I would certainly make an exception here. The first range has been sensitively thought out and seems to work well with the onset of Autumn. Hearth warming, nutritional comfort food, their delicious concoctions have been cooked up to keep hungry little people motoring through the cooler months. This range comprises of 5 choices, nothing too radical, good sensible nursery food with a degree; a butternut curry (which I happily devoured), beef stew, bolognaise, creamy chicken with leeks and beans and little meatballs. Someone has done their homework because this food tastes good, really good and in true Oliver Twist style little people will be coming back for ‘more’!

Oh the distractions, all that initial talk about pizza and I have completely deviated. Back to the matter in hand, let me share with you what has to be the most delectable, healthy, green version of pizza that has ever passed my lips. We’re back on nursery food again, but believe me this will happily satisfy any mummy at lunchtime. Sadly not my creation, it was dreamed up by a good friend who is always inventing scrummy vegetarian menus for her 2 poppets. Drum roll, ……quinoa. Quinoa I hear you say, quinoa on pizza? Yes, yes and yes again. This ‘healthy’ grain deserves recognition, sneaking in the ‘superfood’ quinoa with the double wammy bonus points of being both high in fibre and protein is genius. My little people are not big fans of what they fondly call ‘sawdust’ and refuse point blank to eat it on it’s own, yet on the pizza it’s another story. Back to this pizza, apart from it is not really pizza if we are being really honest. It’s organic, wholemeal pitta, at least that’s the base. Pitta with a healthy spoonful of homemade basil pesto, quinoa, mozzarella and parmesan. It’s basically a quick fix, healthy pretend pizza, a great alternative to the all time favourite margherita and my pink and blue love it. Do give it a whirl it’s quick to prepare and really remarkably tasty!

 Healthy ‘green’, quinoa Pizza

Homemade Basil Pesto

3 to 4 /  large handfuls of fresh basil leaves or 1 good size supermarket packet

20 g pinenuts (ideally lightly toasted in the oven for 5 minutes)

30g grated parmesan

½ garlic clove

Olive oil

For the base and toppings:

50 g quinoa – cooked as instructed on the packet

1 packet of organic  brown pitta bread (6 per pack)

1 packet of good mozzarella – torn up

Additional grated parmesan

Set the oven to 180.

1.First make your pesto by popping the garlic, pinenuts and parmesan into a food processor/ magi mix, and whizz up with a hefty splash of olive oil (50ml to start). You should have a coarsely chopped paste which you now add the basil into with another splash of olive oil. The key is not to bruise the basil too much through over chopping, by cutting it last you minimise that risk! Make sure it is thick and paste like, if not add some more basil.

2.Now line a baking tray with baking paper. Slice the pittas in half, spread each pitta with the pesto, place a spoonful of quinoa on top of each pizza and spread around evenly, top with torn up mozzarella and a good grating of parmesan.

3.Pop the pizzas in the oven for between 10 and 14 minutes till the cheese is bubbling and the pittas have crisped up a little. Top with torn basil and cherry tomatoes.

Notes on Daylesford Mini Meals:

Daylesford Mini Meals are available from the Daylesford farmshops in London and Kingham and also online at Ocado. For little people aged 3 to 8. http://www.daylesford.com

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About lardersaga

Joanna Preston is mother of the 'little people', 1 pink and 1 blue, and wife to saintly Mr.Patience! After a decade dedicated to cooking for others (Alps, Africa and founding 'Sugar & Spice') my attention is now solely in the home kitchen. We are a food obsessed family that adore growing, sourcing and cooking delectable feasts for friends and family!
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