Superbowl Sunday appetizers are notoriously unhealthy, and this year, I wasn’t going to have much control – or ability to experiment – as we were visiting my sister and her family in North Carolina.
Luckily for me, she pulled out all the stops and served up a mixture of finger foods that her 4 kids (and mine) would like… alongside healthier options for the nutritional-conscious adults. I’d never had her Tomato-and-Corn Pizza but it was both delicious and easy to make — though a quick heads-up for pizza purists: this is a pesto, not a red sauce pizza.
We made a few recipe modifications. Kathy bought a whole wheat Boboli thin crust pizza for a healthier base, and we used part-skim mozzarella. Wanting to gloat about our amazing lo-co meal (OK, wanting to feel better about eating this pizza after many pigs-in-a-blanket), I was disappointed to find that this ‘Southern Living’ recipe does not list nutritional info.
But we gloated anyway because the ingredient list is all quite healthy.
Back home in Connecticut, I searched for recipes that would fit both my lo-co needs and that my son would also like (let’s just say he much preferred the pigs in a blanket to the tomato-and-corn pizza…but hey, he tried it!)
On Cooking Light’s website I discovered Spicy Sausage and Mushroom Pizza. It was a big hit – my husband, son and I all loved it. And at only 311 calories, 7.3 grams of fat and 21 mg of cholesterol per slice, it is definitely lo-co. A side salad and a slice (or 2) was a perfect meal for me; 2 slices with some steamed broccoli on the side (hate that lettuce allergy) was just right for my teenager. And he had the leftovers the next day – big bonus.
I made several changes to this recipe. First and foremost, I used Trader Joe’s Ciabatta Flatbread because I am too lazy to roll out dough. As I despise bell peppers I left them out (tried to substitute broccolini as that is DELICIOUS on pizza but TJ’s was out that day). Last but not least, I accidentally bought sweet Italian chicken sausage rather than hot – so I added red pepper flakes as I cooked the sausage. Also, I sliced the sausage into disks rather than crumbled because, well, because it wouldn’t crumble!
The only problem I had with this recipe was slicing onions. Never have I suffered from onion-tears, but this time as I mandoline’d away I cried like crazy. Like, dangerous-slice-your-finger-what-is-happening tears! Apparently, this is a common issue after LASIK…who knew contacts protect your eyes from onion fumes? (Yes, it’s true, I looked it up.) To remedy, I now wear swim goggles while slicing onions. No, I’m not joking. Yes, it works. And no, there will be no pictures posted.
Not wanting to don swim goggles again, I looked for a no-onion option, and found yet another quite good ‘pizza’ recipe – Cuban Chicken Pizza. The reason I put pizza in quotes is that I’m not sure how a recipe with not a hint of sauce – no pesto, no red, no sauce of any kind – can be called a pizza. But that said, this was really quite tasty.
This ‘pizza’ is served on tortillas that you pre-bake in the oven. There’s a nice video on the recipe site – I know because I looked to see what I did wrong, as mine came out more like matzoh and couldn’t be “flattened.” But still, the flavors that you put atop the tortilla are very very good, and it’s a snap to make.
Next time I prepare Cuban Chicken Pizza (and there will be a next time) I’ll skip the tortilla base and either make it on an actual pizza crust – like a Boboli or the TJ’s Ciabatti Flatbread. Or I’ll just use a tortilla and panini it.
In fact, I highly recommend the panini route – as I had some of the black bean/chicken/ corn mixture left over, for lunch the next day I rolled some into a tortilla, added some avocado, then panini’d it to perfection.
So next time you need some finger foods for a party – or want to try a different kind of pizza for a weeknight dinner – you can’t go wrong with any of these 3 lo-co pizza options.