After I graduated from college, I gave up pizza for a year.
Mind you, I still loved pizza, but after so many years of it being a staple of my diet, I needed a serious break. My school partnered up with one of the big chain pizza places in the area, which means this place was on our meal plan. Which means that when everything on campus was closed, you could just dial up the pizza place and in 45 minutes or less you’d have a hot pizza in your room.
Because I was such a picky eater those days (someday I’ll get into that) the only thing I liked on my pizza was cheese and pepperoni. Sometimes, I’d go crazy and maybe eat some sausage, but that was it. If I saw an onion or black olive on there, I would silently freak out and pick out every single piece.
I was weird.
Which brings me to this Greek pizza, something I never would have eaten in college and even a little beyond.
I never would have eaten spinach, olives or red onions. I would have thought Feta smelled weird. I would have been OK eating the zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes and red peppers in something else, but never (never!) on pizza.
I’m happy to say that I’ve grown up a lot since those days. Now I seek out olive bars so that I can get my fix. I’m still not a big fan of raw or big slices of onions in food, but if they’re chopped finely enough, I don’t crawl into a ball and weep like I used to.
We’ve all heard and read about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet. Incorporating more vegetables and fruits into your diet and less red meat and sugar are the basic lessons to take away from this diet. But even if you’re not following a ‘diet’ specifically, the Mediterranean way of eating is something all of us can incorporate into our daily lives.
Like this Greek pizza for instance. Yes, it’s pizza, but it’s not the greasy, cardboard pizza that’s delivered to your home in 45 minutes or less. This pizza is loaded with fresh vegetables, olives, herbs and a little cheese. It’s really easy to put together and very filling. I used whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe’s (I keep a couple bags of pizza dough in the freezer for emergencies) and the nutty taste of the dough really gives the pizza a whole new depth of flavor.
So try it. You won’t be disappointed.
Greek style pizza
1 whole wheat pizza dough
1 tomato (or 1 cup of chopped tomatoes)
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 cup of Kalamata olives, chopped
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
3/4-1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella (I used smoked mozzarella)
Fresh or dried herbs (oregano, basil, mint)
Prepare the dough according to package directions.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. If using a pizza stone, place the stone in the oven while the oven is preheating.
Make the sauce: Place the tomato and garlic in a blender and blend for about 20 seconds. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste.
When the oven is hot enough, carefully remove the pizza stone (or baking sheet) from the oven and quickly assemble the pizza.
Assemble the pizza: Place a bit of olive oil on the stone to coat. Spread or place the pizza dough on the stone. Spread the tomato sauce on the dough, being sure not to use too much, leaving a little room on the sides. Top with zucchini slices, baby spinach leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, mozzarella, red pepper, feta and olives. Sprinkle a little salt on top and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
When the pizza is done, remove it from the oven, top it with the fresh chopped herbs and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top.