Strawberry Balsamic Pesto Pizza
I took my daughter to the farmer’s market, where they sell wood-fired organic sourdough pizza at the local college booth. It was peak strawberry season. The college kids did what any seasonal-eating, self-sustaining, homemade pizza makers do in mid-June: They put strawberries on the pizza. More specifically, strawberry mozzarella with a balsamic drizzle.
“Strawberries on pizza?!” I exclaimed internally, as I immediately ordered one. And then we sat right on the curb–my daughter and I, masks around our neck–sharing a strawberry-pesto pizza right out of the box. I declared it an inspiration and made a Plant Paradox compliant one the next week.
There are a few different options for pizza crust on the Plant Paradox diet. There are several recipes for grain-free pizza online, made with almond, cassava, sorghum, coconut, and/or millet flours. Dr. Gundry also has a recipe in The Plant Paradox Cookbook.
There are no 100% compliant store-bought crusts, but some come very close. One option is the Cappello’s Naked crust made with almond, cassava, and coconut flours. Another is the Cali’flour crusts–Italian or plain–made with cauliflower and mozzarella (not A2). Simple Mills also makes a box pizza mix you can bake at home (not all the almond flour is blanched, though).
4-Ingredient Cauliflower Pizza Crust
I like to use this very simple, 4-ingredient recipe for cauliflower pizza crust. Combine the following in a bowl:
- 2 10-ounce bags cauliflower rice, steamed and squeezed dry in a towel
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 3/4 cup grated hard Italian cheese
- 1/2 cup (or more) cassava flour
Add the cassava flour last. Slowly incorporate it, and stop when the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, but isn’t yet crumbly. To bake, transfer the dough to parchment paper and flatten and spread it into a thin layer. I suggest pre-baking it at 475 degrees F for 5 or 6 minutes before adding toppings and baking again.
The explosion of flavor on this pizza is made possible by the sweet-savory combination of local, in-season fruit, quality vinegar, and delicious pesto. The best ingredients make the best food–there’s no shortcuts to quality, nutritious food.
Strawberries are a relatively low-sugar fruit, after raspberries and blackberries. But they should only be eaten sparingly in season and picked ripe. Strawberries from the grocery store are not picked ripe. Don’t be fooled by that bright red exterior–they are white on the inside. Take your money and your bucket to your local berry farm and support an organic or chemical-free operation.
You’ll combine balsamic vinegar with basil pesto to make the “sauce” for this pizza. Pesto can be homemade or store-bought. As with crusts, there is no 100% compliant store-bought pesto, but some come close, like the Kirkland brand or the Classico brand. Of course, the easiest way to ensure compliance is to make your own. I have a recipe for basil pesto (and several other pestos) HERE.
Mozzarella cheese is traditionally made from the milk of Italian Mediterranean buffalo. You can find it at most grocery stores with a good imported cheese counter. If you have trouble sourcing it, I’d recommend using any Italian cheese–either Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-reggiano–rather than cow’s milk mozzarella.
Pizza Baking Tips
Baking times will vary for this pizza, depending on the crust you use. If using a homemade or box mix crust recipe, follow instructions for pre-baking. Pre-baking the crust at a high temperature improves your chances of maintaining a dry crust once you put the toppings on. Cauliflower crusts, however, are notorious for getting soggy. I don’t have a lot of advice other than to use cassava flour (as in recipe above) and pre-bake it on a very hot surface.
I preheat a ceramic pizza stone to get a nice, hot surface to bake the crust. If you don’t have a stone, a preheated upside-down baking sheet will work as well. Be sure to use parchment paper, though, as it’s much easier to slide paper around, rather than trying to scrape a pizza crust off the stone surface. You can use a second, flat baking sheet to transfer the pizza to and from the oven or a pizza peel like this one.
Strawberry Balsamic Pesto Pizza
Plant Paradox compliant strawberry balsamic pesto pizza to make during peak strawberry season–a sweet/savory pizza good enough to serve for dessert.
- 2 compliant pizza crusts
- 1 cup basil pesto
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (plus more for drizzling)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
- 1 pint strawberries (trimmed and sliced)
- 1/2 large red onion (thinly sliced)
- 8 ounces buffalo mozzarella cheese (sliced)
- fresh basil leaves (for serving)
PREHEAT oven to 475 degrees F. Place a pizza stone or upside-down baking sheet in the oven to preheat. Whisk together pesto and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and reserve.
HEAT olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the strawberries and onions and sauté until slightly soft, about 1minute. Place pizza crusts on parchment paper and then on a flat baking sheet.Slide pizza/paper to the hot stone in the oven. Bake for 2-6 minutes. Remove pizzas (still on parchment paper) from oven and lower oven temperature to 375degrees F.
SPREAD balsamic pesto mixture on the crusts, leaving a ½-inch border around the edge. Divide mozzarella slices, strawberries, and onions evenly between crusts. Slide pizzas (still on paper)to the hot stone in the oven (one at a time, if necessary) and bake until cheese is crisp and melted, 5-10 minutes (cooking time varies, depending on which crust you’re using—check every couple minutes to ensure crust isn’t burning). Let pizza rest for 5 minutes and then tear the basil leaves and sprinkle on top. Slice and serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, as desired.
Crust suggestions: Cappello’s naked crust, Cali’flour Italian or plain crust, Simple Mills almond flour crust mix, Dr. Gundry’s homemade from Plant Paradox cookbook, or my homemade cauliflower/cassava crust