Marinated Portobello Pizzas

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(Becky, the Mama.)

As long as I can remember I have wanted to be Italian. I look Italian. I FEEL the inner, fiery passions of an Italian. I love the way every little word in Italian sounds like music, or a romantic flirtation.

I met a beautiful grandmother from Sicily a few years ago, at a friend’s house in Denver, and after chatting a bit, she asked me if I was Italian. Be still il mio cuore (my heart).

I said, “No, but I really, really want to be.” What I didn’t say, but what I wanted to say was, “I want to live under the Tuscan sun by day, and I want the moon to hit my eye like a big pizza pie at night. I want to eat gelato and drink café in a piazza.” (And I want an excuse to use words “gelato,” “café” and “piazza” in a sentence every day.)

This lovely lady, immediately recognizing my Inner Sophia Loren said, with a wave of her hand, “No worries, I will make you Sicilian.”

“You will?”

“Yes,” she said, and then she ceremoniously took my face in her two cupped hands, looked in my eyes and said, “Now you are Sicilian.”

Poof!

So there ya go.

In honor of my bestowed-upon Sicilian-Italian-ness, I offer these beautiful little marinated Portobello pizzas for your eating and snacking pleasure today. You can fill them with anything you have on hand that you enjoy, the possibilities are endless: mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil; goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto; chopped veggies and lentils in a marinara sauce with vegan cheeses; humus and olives and red roasted peppers; chicken, asparagus and Alfredo sauce. I could go on and on, as we Italians are prone to do.

I filled these Portobellos with a rich home-made marina sauce I mixed with some leftover diced roasted veggies. Then I sprinkled them with mozzarella and Parmesan and topped with a few slices of turkey pepperoni.

Muah! Easy, pretty and delizioso! If you think ahead, try to pop the mushrooms into the marinade as soon as you bring them home from the grocer. The longer they marinate the better they taste! I ended up marinating these for almost 3 days. They were so juicy and flavorful.

This recipe has almost no carbs, is gluten free, and can easily be adjusted to be vegan or vegetarian. If you have lots of people over for a party who are all on special diets (and who isn’t these days? ) you can even make them to order. (Or let your guests make their own.)

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Marinated Portobello Pizzas

Makes 2 Portobello Pizzas

Ingredients: 

1/3 cup of your favorite Italian or balsamic salad dressing

2 large Portobello mushrooms

½ cup of your favorite marinara or spaghetti sauce (mixed with any chopped leftover veggies you like)

2 T. grated mozzarella cheese (or a slice of fresh buffalo mozzarella)

2 T. Parmesan cheese

6 to 8 slices of turkey pepperoni (it has 70% less fat that regular pepperoni and the same amount of flavor)

Directions:

Marinate the mushrooms in the dressing for at least four hours or up to several days in a tightly covered container. (Put in fridge if you are marinating more than 4 hours. Otherwise you can leave the mushrooms to marinate on the counter top.)

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Next, broil or grill the mushroom on both sides until the get grill marks or start to brown. Turn stem side up and carefully cut off the stem. (I chopped the stem and added it to marinara.) Place a generous spoonful of chunky marinara sauce on the mushrooms (about 1/4 cup each) then sprinkle each with a tablespoon of mozzarella and Parmesan. Finally top with pepperoni. Bake or Broil (about 6 inches from heat) until cheese is melted and pizzas are heated through. Now THAT’S amore!

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Pistachio and Caramelized Onion Pizza

I have been working out fairly consistently since last August, thanks to the encouragement of my good friend Ingrid.  I get up by 7:00 am (a great feat for this non-morning person) and meet Ingrid at a local gym at 8:00 where we exercise while solving the world’s problems and…often talk about great food. (Perhaps this is why the pounds aren’t just dropping off of us?)

Here’s our conversation from last week, both of us huffing and puffing on ellipticals, side by side.

“Becky!” says Ingrid. “I was visiting my friend in California who is a vegan, like your daughter.  And I came up with the best recipe for a pizza.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“Well, you start with a pizza crust and then sprinkle it with almond cheese.”

“Does almond cheese tastes good? Because I think soy cheese tastes like shredded rubber bands, and I’ve been looking for a good vegan cheese to use when I cook for Rachel.”

“It  does! And it melts. Then you cook some garlic and onions in a pan with a little olive oil until they just start to brown and caramelize.  Put these on top of the almond cheese,  top with a few unsalted pistachios and — hey, Becky, why did you stop walking on your machine?”

I looked down and sure enough, I was so caught up in Ingrid’s description, that I’d completely frozen, thinking of nothing but how those flavors might taste together, my head in a pistachio-caramelized onion pizza cloud.

“Sorry,” I said, resuming my exercise.  “What can I say?  I brake for  food. Even descriptions of it.”

After our gym session, I  didn’t even change out of my gym clothes before heading to Whole Foods and gathering the ingredients. I chose garlic Naan bread instead of pizza dough because I was in a hurry to try this feast.

Let me just say,  this new pizza recipe may  cost me a few extra miles of exercise.

And it will be totally worth it.  You have to try this!

Ingrid’s Pistachio and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Ingredients:

Serves Two


2 pieces Naan Bread (I love Whole Food’s Garlic Naan Bread. But it is not vegan, so if you want to be pure vegan here, you may want to use Whole Food’s pizza dough.)
1-2  T. olive oil, divided
1. c grated almond cheese (or Mozzerella cheese, but if you are a vegan and haven’t tried almond cheese, it is the best tasting vegan cheese I’ve tried thus far)


1 red onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c. roasted, unsalted pistachio nuts

Directions:

Using a grill pan and a little olive oil, grill the Naan bread on both sides until it is crispy and has light golden grill marks. Set aside on a heavy duty cookie sheet or clay pizza pan.

In a skillet, saute the onions and garlic in a tablespoon or so of olive oil until onions have started to caramelize but still have a little bite/crunch to them.

Put 1/3 cup grated cheese on each piece of Naan. Top each with half of the onion-garlic mixture.  Sprinkle each pizza with 2 T. roasted, unsalted pistachios.

Bake at 375 until cheese melts.  (The almond cheese takes a longer to melt than does “real cheese,”  and I actually ended up nuking the pizza in the microwave a few seconds to get it to “melty” consistency.  It is much better than soy cheese, very good –but not as yummy as the Real Mozerella McCoy.)  Cut in wedges and serve alongside fresh fruits for a light supper or beautiful appetizer to go with your next wine party!

*Besides being handy behind a stove top, Ingrid is also a social media whiz, and serves as a social media consultant for my husband’s literary agency. (Click on her name to read her most recent article on blogging tips.)