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Best Italian Chef Finalist: Pizza de Natura

by Cheryl B. - Windham, NH | Written on February 6, 2013

This is my very first cooking contest entry in my life!  Since I’m a homemaker, I try to find quick and easy, healthy, tasty, low sodium, low-fat, appealing to the nose and eyes recipes.  Whenever I can’t find one, I tweak or come up with an original.  This pizza recipe is as simple as they come and always a winner in my home. My husband and stepson love it when it comes out of the oven and gets into their mouths! The fresh mozzarella is the key to bringing out a lot of natural flavors!

Pizza de Natura

Pizza de Natura

Pizza de Natura Slice

Ingredients
Pizza pie:
Pre-made dough from the grocery store is a huge winner for us, but I prefer whole wheat or non-enriched flour if available; and gluten-free is hard to find but healthier if you have it.
2 Tbsp olive oil

Pizza sauce:
2-3 oz of no-salt-added plain tomato sauce (to be used sparingly to not create a watery base but to help mix the ingredients together for spreading)
2 tsp fresh, chopped or dried basil (is what I use if my basil doesn’t look great in my garden)
1 tsp fresh, chopped or dried parsley (what I use)
1-2 Tbsp grated Parmesan (fresh from the deli is what I use)
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black peppercorns
2 Tbsp fresh or jarred minced garlic (if jarred, drain well)
2 tsp hot pepper flakes – optional
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Pizza cheese:
16 oz of fresh mozzarella cheese (sliced lengthwise or sliced in round O’s is fine for coverage)

Pizza topping:
1/2 med onion diced (food processor is a huge time saver)
1/2 any medium pepper ( green or red is preferred in our home)
1 Tbsp fresh, chopped or dried parsley
A few grinds of fresh cracked black peppercorns over top
1 oz of black olives whole or sliced, but pitted
1 Tbsp of whole sun dried tomatoes (I use jarred.  Pat dry from extra olive oil drippings)

Instructions
Preheat oven at 475 degrees F.
Prepare pan with a thin layer of (wheat) flour.
Prepare dough for sauce; roll it out evenly with only a small knot of dough to crust on the ends to curl over top to cover a 12-14″ pizza pie pan or stone.  Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil for a coating of the ends over top.
Prepare  sauce:  Mix all dry (with exception of grated cheese) and wet contents separately then mix together.  Spread sauce over the the dough as thinly as possible, leaving nothing without at least a thin moist layer.  Sprinkle the grated cheese over the sauce.  Layer with a single slice of mozzarella over pizza sauce.  Prep the pizza topping by mixing all ingredients together.  You may use the food processor to dice all the veggies at the same time and add the herbs after in the mix.  By hand, sprinkle a single layer of the vegetables on the pizza, and then grind the peppercorn over top a few grinds, just for a little more seasoning.
Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes or until desired crust on the bottom.  Watch the oiled crust from browning too quickly before the rest of pizza crust is baked through. In testing, you may want to use a spray oil to eliminate the need for over use and excessive/premature browning.
It can be enjoyed with a favorite Chardonnay or even a smooth Merlot.  Enjoy! Eat up!

Vote for this dish!

  • Jack Baum

    I am VERY impressed with this chef’s attention to health issues in the use of whole wheat crust and vegetarian ingredients. I would really like her to win and have many people vote for her and to get Maggiano’s attention to healthy options in the restaurant. The recipe sounds very good, and I would like to try it. I hope the restaurant does too. Also, can we use low-fat cheese?

  • Jack Baum

    I am VERY impressed with this chef’s attention to health issues in the use of whole wheat crust and vegetarian ingredients. I would really like her to win and have many people vote for her and to get Maggiano’s attention to healthy options in the restaurant. The recipe sounds very good, and I would like to try it. I hope the restaurant does too. Also, can we use low-fat cheese?

  • Cburchfield72

    Thank you so much for giving me chills with your very kind and generous words, Jack!  Yes!  By all means, everyone not only Vote, but try it or create it as you feel you’d feel most comfortable!  I love doing this and cannot believe it’s made it in a contest, but am so ecstatic! :)  My husband is quite particular and normally I am a very bad baker…so for this to always come out perfectly, I’m pretty d a r n happy!

  • Diana

    I, too, appreciate the health-consciousness shown in this recipe
    and hope it wins. I haven’t made it yet but it sounds delicious
    and is vegetarian.   I agree with Jack’s comment below that
    it would be good if restaurants got into more healthy, yet
    delicious options. They could play a role in helping with the
    problem of obesity and, in general, promote good health.

  • Diana

    I, too, appreciate the health-consciousness shown in this recipe
    and hope it wins. I haven’t made it yet but it sounds delicious
    and is vegetarian.   I agree with Jack’s comment below that
    it would be good if restaurants got into more healthy, yet
    delicious options. They could play a role in helping with the
    problem of obesity and, in general, promote good health.

  • Pbstpa

    Your recipe sounds terrific. I’d definitely order this. You have my vote.

  • Snooker

    Sounds much healthier than the other contenders.  Restaurants really need to step up and offer healthier choices.  I would vote for this, but unfortunately the majority of the dining out crowd would prefer heavy dishes containing sauces and cheese.  After all that is the reason they say they dine out!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000547695043 Pauline Mavridis

    Sounds delicious & it’s healthy to boot! It’d be a great addition to Maggiano’s menu. I find often it’s hard to find vegetarian/healthy dishes when dining out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000547695043 Pauline Mavridis

    Sounds delicious & it’s healthy to boot! It’d be a great addition to Maggiano’s menu. I find often it’s hard to find vegetarian/healthy dishes when dining out.

  • Smandell

    This looks delicious. I have not had the pleasure of eating it, but would surely like to do just that. I is not hugely fattening and more appetizing that most because of its delicacy.

  • ilyse

    it sounds really good,i like the fact that this pizza has natural ,good ingredients ,that is very healthy.it would be good on the menu.ilyse

  • Ted Kaminski

    Great suggestion and looks great, all restuarants should offer healthy options, because even though most people go out not caring about healthy ingredients, but should remember that a guest or a business associate might enjoy that there is something for them without just having a salad with a wedge of lemon. Congratulations on getting selected and hope you win.

  • Spratt J

    HEALTHY AND VERY ITALIAN IS THIS PIZZA. BRAVO,  JUST LIKE MY GRANDMA USED TO MAKE. AND  YOURE  RIGHT THE CHEESE DOES THE TRICK. MAGGIANOS NEED THIS ADDED TO ITS MENU………………

  • Anonymous

    I needed that, thanks so much Spratt J!

  • Anonymous

    I needed that, thanks so much Spratt J!

  • Anonymous

    I completely agree, Ted.  When I’ve tried to keep on a path of good health and have been out with friends or former colleagues, I’ve had trouble picking between the salad choices or salmon.  Always the same thing.  A healthy yet stomach-filling (not-weighing-down) option would make everyone feel satisfied as it has been me and my family.

  • Anonymous

    I truly appreciate this, ilyse!  Thanks so very much.

  • Anonymous

    It is very simple, for certain.  It has only taken me 40-45 minutes from prep to table.  As for the taste, I am always, always, always amazed at how FRESH, no other word for it, that it tastes.  In a silly but oh-so-true way, it wakes up your senses.  I really want everyone to have the opportunity to eat a slice someday.  It’s THAT unpredictable.

  • Anonymous

    My Mom is a retired registered dietitian, so I grew up understanding the reasons why eating healthy was so important.  I’ve been a size zero petite now for about ten years.  Before that, only a 2.  I’ve had no choice but to make smart eating habits because my family on both sides have “everything.”  So, it’s truly key for me to stay with my eating habits.  I do pig out at least once every 6 weeks, though…even with chocolate! (70% and higher, mostly)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Snooker!  I hope there will be more choices.  And, this pizza has an explosion of tastes that pictures just do not lend it its due justice.  I know what you’re saying, and sure, I love a good wheel-barrow night every so often myself.  But, the crowds that come to Maggiano’s Little Italy have high expectations of their food, with low potential of overly pooching out while on a date with their spouse or potential future spouse, or with the girls pre-festivities.  Also, I’m used to eating healthy foods, but if salads, Ahi Tuna, and salmon are our only options anywhere/everywhere we go when we decide to eat out, then we do need to start thinking out of the box.  Kids will go for pizza any day, and now the parents can feel good knowing they’ll be eating their leftovers as they watch their kids eat up sans the guilt of what they’re feeding them.

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate that.  I hope the votes keep coming, only because I know the flavors that present themselves when tasted, only are found if tasted. 

  • Anonymous

    There’s nothing more sad than seeing a child or adult be made fun of due to something they have a difficult time controlling.  Obesity is not the way to combat problems in our lives, so some of us eat and others do other things, if not a combination of the two+.  I am not vegetarian and still I know this fills me up.  I’ve been known to eat so many ribs on an all-you-can eat night, that I had cooks coming out in wonder of who was eating so many.  To their shock, it was a petite woman with little to show of her growing pooch.  The key is moderation, and that’s where some of us differ from those who have little control due other health issues.  And, that’s where restaurants can help.  This pizza contains no additional salt than what the ingredients naturally are grown having.  Hence, “Pizza of Nature” when translated in English.

  • Vanessaroth80

    Sounds great

  • Vanessaroth80

    This pizza sounds great:  Ivote #1 for it.

  • WHKELLYE

    i love this. as a vegetarian pizza lover this is great. whether it wins or not it should be added to menu anyway!

  • Amanda Glamdoll

    Yum! This dish wins My vote!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! Tastes just as great! :)

  • Anonymous

    I really appreciate the support, Vanessa!!

  • Anonymous

    It’s very tasty indeed! Thanks so much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maureen-Smith/100005080659968 Maureen Smith

    I love this recipe. It sounds like anyone could make it. I will definitely try it.
    I would love to see it on the menu at Maggiano’s.

  • Anonymous

    It’s very easy and takes 45 minutes from prep to plate! 

  • http://blog.maggianos.com/2013/09/maggiano%e2%80%99s-little-italy-chef-tips-add-pizzazz-to-your-pizza/ Maggiano’s Chef’s Table

    [...] loves cheese pizza however most agree that it can be a little on the predictable side. Why not add pizzazz to your pizza? After all, today is National Cheese Pizza [...]

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