Localicious: For the Love of Pizza

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Happy February!

February is one of my favorite foodie months for reasons like National Pancake Week, Pistachio Day, Celebration of Chocolate Month, and so much more. Heart Health Month and the Great American Pizza Bake both happen to land in February and I couldn’t be happier about combining them for this month’s Localicious feature.

My mind has been going wild brainstorming homemade pizza ideas utilizing some of our local seasonal foods that support healthy hearts. Immediate go-to ingredients are leafy greens like kale that continue to grow through our winter months. Garlic is also an easy winner as it would be noticeably missing from comfort food such as pizza and its heart-boosting powers are undeniable. I’ve also had my eye on pistachios, as I routinely pass orchards of gnarly pistachio trees on my way to work.

First we’ll take a look at the benefits of these local foods and where to get them, and then we’ll talk pizza!

Dark Leafy Greens include kale, chard and collards. Dark leafy greens are good sources of Vitamins A, C, and K and also contain the minerals iron, potassium and calcium. They also have phytochemicals that may help to defend against heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Greens are easy to care for in a garden and grow well in the winter cold … some varieties taste even better after a frost!

Garlic is touted as a defender against heart disease, cancer and the common cold. It is also a fructooligosaccharide, which means it is a popular food for all the healthy bacteria that reside in the gut. Our immune system and digestive health rely heavily on the health of bacteria (probiotics) in our GI tract. When we eat garlic we not only get all of the wonderful benefits of garlic but we also pass good food along to our friendly bacteria residents. There are several varieties of garlic, each with different flavor profiles. While most grocery stores carry one or two garlic varieties, you will find more at the farmers markets. Our local farmers can grow garlic through the winter and offer a much wider range of varieties.

Pistachios are rich in protein, fiber, minerals and B vitamins. They are also packed with healthy fats. Eating foods with protein, fiber and fat help you to stay full longer and provide satiety to your meals. In addition, there is evidence that pistachios may lower risk of heart disease. Local farmer Bruce Lindauer has had a small pistachio orchard in Tehama County for nearly 26 years. As a tree connoisseur, Bruce has a true love for pistachio trees, stating “they are different than every other tree we grow in this area.” Pistachios are unique in that they have male and female trees and are pollinated by the wind. When probing Bruce on his favorite way to enjoy pistachios he put it simply: “sharing a bowl with friends and a favorite glass of beer or wine while solving the world’s problems.” This, of course, is my favorite way to enjoy them as well, however the pizza below comes in at a close second!

“HEARTY” PIZZA

Crust (courtesy of the blog Simply Quinoa):

  • 3/4 cup quinoa, soaked for 6 – 8 hours (or overnight)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 9″ cake pan with parchment paper and drizzle one tablespoon of oil in the center. Spread around until evenly coated and set pan aside.
  2. Thoroughly rinse quinoa, then add to a blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth and creamy. This should resemble a thick pancake batter.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes. Remove, flip and return to oven to bake for another 10 – 15 minutes until browned and edges are crispy.

Toppings:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • ¼ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup dark leafy greens (chopped into bite-size pieces)
  • ¼ cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup goat cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  1. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over baked crust. Follow with garlic, apricots, leafy greens, and goat cheese.
  2. Bake 7-10 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and drizzle with honey, then sprinkle with pistachios.

Localicious is a monthly column celebrating food in the North State. If you would like to suggest a food-related business or organization, email us at localicious@northstateparent.com

Erin Bianchi
About Erin Bianchi

Erin Bianchi is a registered dietitian from Northern California. She has a huge passion for local agriculture and fermented foods. Erin owns Cook, a kitchen boutique in Red Bluff, CA, that carries kitchen tools, local foods, beer and wine.

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