Chris and I used to order pizza, oh once, maybe twice a week.
There’s an amazing Italian place just two blocks down the street from us with doughy, chewy coal oven pizza. I don’t think that the sauce consisted of anything more than, sweet, hand-crushed tomatoes, and each pie was covered with bright, white slices of fresh mozzarella and a few leaves of basil. I still count it among the best pies I’ve ever had. We ate it often, and with relish.
Then there were those nights, usually on weekends or a late night after a long and stressful day at work, when we craved the kind of pizza that promises to arrive in thirty minutes or less. You know, the kind that comes with garlic-butter sauce on the side and makes you feel a little less human post-consumption?
In any and all of its forms, we loved pizza.
And then I went gluten-free (cue dramatic music).
For obvious reasons, it was immediately apparent that we would no longer be ordering our pizza, so we began to search for GF alternatives. Fortunately, we very quickly came across a well-reviewed, packaged pizza crust mix has changed the way we think about pizza for dinner. Chebe pizza crust cooks up thin and crisp and cracker-like. The blend of dried herbs in this mix was unexpected the first time we made it, but is very good and goes surprisingly well with any combination of toppings or sauces. We now buy it in bulk and always have it on hand for a quick and easy dinner. We have truly come to love this pizza.
My most basic recipe for pizza is chebe crust (prepared according to package directions), a simple tomato sauce (a clove of minced garlic sauteed in some EVOO with a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of tomato paste, and a 28 oz can of hand-crushed San Marzanos), 1/2 lb of thinly sliced mozzarella, a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and 4-6 whole basil leaves scattered around. Crank up the oven to 400 and bake for 10-15 minutes to melt the cheese and wilt the basil.
I’ve also discovered that pizza is a good vehicle for using up leftovers. For example, when I make spaghetti and meatballs, I use the full pound of meat, bake the meatballs in the oven, and set two of them aside (refrigerating) for the next night to slice onto a meatball pie. Also, this past week, I took my own advice and used the leftover ricotta and mozzarella (since it was only 1/4 lb, grated rather than sliced) from the eggplant lasagna as pizza toppings. I added a couple ounces of goat cheese and a handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and created a quick and easy four-cheese pizza. Using up the leftover ricotta this way: highly recommended.
Tonight, I made a more non-traditional pizza–definitely not an every-nighter, but still one of our favorites.
White Pizza with Thyme
1 prepared GF pizza crust
1/2 lb fontal, sliced (or other tender, mild cheese)
1/2 cup grated aged cheddar
2 oz chevre
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 cups milk
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon white rice flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
A pinch of garlic powder
Kosher salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Heat a medium saucepan over a medium-low flame. Melt the butter and whisk in the rice flour. Cook for about a minute. Carefully whisk in the milk, drop in the garlic, and increase the heat to medium-high. Allow the sauce to come to a boil and simmer until thick. Season with Kosher salt and pepper.
Coat the pizza crust generously with the garlic white sauce, leaving a half inch thick perimeter of crust. For an added level of garlicky-goodness, sprinkle lightly with garlic powder. Top with the slices of fontal, grated cheddar, Parmigiano Reggiano, and goat cheese. Sprinkle on the thyme leaves last.
Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheeses are melted. (I don’t bake this pizza at 400, as it tends to cook too quickly at this temperature and the cheese can become stiff.)
Chebe pizza crust has become a staple in our house, an easy and satisfying go-to on those nights when neither one of us can answer the age-old question, “What do you want for dinner?” Don’t let the fact that it requires a rolling pin fool you, this crust is incredibly simple to make. It throws together quickly and I’m continually impressed with its versatility–really, let your imagination run.
I’m still looking forward to trying all the other wonderful GF pizza mixes out there, but we all know there’s nothing like that first love, so I’m sure Chebe will continue to have a special place in my pantry.
What is your favorite GF pizza crust mix?