Hide the veggies pizza! Pizza is the ultimate vehicle to hide vegetables, and I am thrilled to add this recipe to the HTV list. The rich tomatoey flavor combined with the melty goodness of cheese is enough to disguise Grandma wearing army boots! This is a weekly favorite in my house.
Because I will be regularly bringing HTV back as a recurring spot on this website, it is important that I give you a few basic guidelines to follow when embarking on an HTV challenge. This may sound silly, but these rules MUST be followed in order to benefit you and your family, and allow you to maintain your position as a trustworthy cook.
1. Only hide the vegetables from children as an absolute last resort. HTV is aimed at grown-ups more than children. It is for those that are simply too far gone, and teaching them to love veggies requires a little more ingenuity. Children must be exposed to many fruits and vegetables as early as possible. It should not be extraordinary to see children under 5 munching on salad greens-it should just be. The more exposure children get at a young age, the less finicky they will be. Many don’t know that it may take a child ten tries to finally like a food. So parents, never give up! If they make the lemon pucker face with their spinach puree at 9 months old, try again in few weeks, and again in a few more. Now there are always those children (and husbands) that just absolutely refuse to eat their veggies after years of trying everything under the sun-that is where HTV comes in.
2. Never lie. HTV is a fun way to incorporate that extra punch of nutrients into otherwise drab meals, but it is not intended to ruin your integrity as cook- or a human being for that matter. Remember we are only going to HTV out of love, so if you don’t mention that head of cabbage tucked away in the apple pie (oh yeah…it’s possible), it is perfectly fine. However, if you are ever questioned, you MUST tell the truth! Just be nonchalant and explain that you are “adding more years to their life and more life to their years” because you love them! Who could be mad at that?! Deceiving your loved one is simply unloving, and if caught, will turn them into a Sherlock Holmes of your kitchen. Don’t do it!
3. Capitalize on the vegetables that they do eat. There are always a few veggies that your picky eater does admit to enjoying. These are weapons that should be kept in our back pocket- never to be over used, but released in full force when the time is right. When these veggies are appropriate for a recipe, go crazy. The idea is to utilize every opportunity to get those immune-boosting, disease-fighting veggie nutrients into the meal without having to constantly sneak around. Substitute hated ingredients for those that are loved, double the amount of tolerated veggies in recipes, and just be creative!
This HTV Pizza supplies 100% of your daily Vitamin C, 59% Vitamin A, and 52% daily Calcium requirements…and the best part is, your victims will never know it! The pizza begins with a whole grain crust that is topped with a sneaky tomato sauce and kale puree. My husband would never let kale pass his lips, and for that reason I have no other choice but to hide it! That kale will never be seen again, as I then cover it with part-skim mozzarella cheese. He will tolerate peppers and onions. So I chop them up very small and sauté. By cooking them before adding to the pizza, their flavors will become milder and do not stand out as strongly as they would if I were to add them raw. Next, my husband LOVES sausage (no surprise-anything that will clog an artery is on his favorites list), so of course I had to incorporate it. The secret when using these fatty meats is to buy smaller portions of high-quality cuts. So I purchased one, quite large, uncooked hot turkey sausage link (you may want 2 links if they are on the smaller side). If you cannot purchase just one or two links, save the remainder – they freeze quite well. Another little secret is to remove the sausage from its casing and crumble into very small pieces as you add it to the peppers and onions in the sauté pan. You want very small pieces of sausage so that a small amount can be stretched to cover the entire pizza. By cooking it with the other vegetables, the peppers and onions will now take on and carry that sausage flavor throughout the pie. After adding this mixture to the pizza, the final toping is a manly portion of sliced raw mushrooms. Here is where I am capitalizing on the vegetable that is adored by my husband. As you see from the pics, I went crazy with them. Although it truly is a Veggie Lover’s Special, this pizza does not at all taste like it, trust me! It tastes like a rich ooey, gooey, sausagey delight, and returns weekly to my dinner table by popular demand!
Here is the full recipe:
Ingredients: Serves 4
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
12 oz (½ of 1- 25 oz Jar) Low-Sodium Pasta Sauce
5 oz Frozen Chopped Kale, thawed and drained
1 Ball of Store Bought, Whole Grain Pizza Dough -or- 1 Precooked Whole Wheat Thin Pizza Crust
2 Cups Low-Sodium Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
1 Small Green Bell Pepper
1 Small Red or Orange Bell Pepper
1 Medium Onion
1-2 Links Hot Italian Turkey or Chicken Sausage
2 Cups Sliced Button Mushrooms
1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In this recipe, I used fresh store-bought dough from Whole Foods and rolled it out myself. I like this dough because it is a mixture of whole wheat and regular white flour. This is hard to find anywhere else. So you can make your own or for a shortcut, I recommend using a whole wheat, thin pizza crust that requires no cooking. A good example is Boboli 100% Whole Wheat crust. If you decide to use fresh dough, begin by flouring a clean surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to desired shape, it should be quite thin. I like a free-form shape. Just make sure it fits into the pan that you will use – I use a rectangular half sheet pan. To prepare your pan, apply a thin layer of olive oil so there will be no sticking, and transfer the dough to the pan. Now for the sneaky part… In most cases the next step is usually the sauce. Make sure you choose a low-sodium sauce, premade is perfectly fine. In a blender, combine 12 oz of sauce and 5 oz of chopped kale, and puree until smooth. Spread evenly on dough, leaving ½ inch of crust. I like to add a few spoons of plain sauce (without kale) to the edges, just so this green mixture doesn’t poke out from the cheese too much. Go ahead and add the mozzarella cheese. Meanwhile, sauté peppers and onion until soft. Remove the sausage from its casing and crumble into very small pieces as you add it to the pepper and onion mixture. Sauté until sausage is cooked through then spread evenly over pizza. Top with sliced mushrooms and oregano. Place in preheated oven and cook for 24-30 minutes. If using a pre-cooked crust, cook for 12-18 minutes.
Slice and Enjoy!
Nutrition Information per Serving: 518 Calories, 16 g fat (7g saturated, 1g polyunsaturated, 5 g monounsaturated), 0g Trans Fat, 813 mg sodium, 58g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 35g protein, 59% vitamin A, 108% vitamin C, 52% Calcium