In this post, I’ll teach y’all how to make an easy paleo/primal gluten-free alternative to a personal pan pizza! I’ll also walk you through learning to chiffonade your herbs and tell you how abusing your leafy greens can make them even healthier for you!
- Portabella Mushrooms (1 per person + a few extra)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coarsely Ground Salt & Pepper to Taste
- Peppers: bell peppers, hot peppers, little colorful sweet peppers–your choice! Or have them all!
- White, Yellow or Red Onion, thinly sliced
- Minced Garlic
- Fresh Basil Leaves (and tender stems!)
- Canned Salmon or Other Cooked Salmon, drained
- 1 Lemon wedge per person
- Grape, Cherry, or other Small, juicy tomatoes
- Grated or Shredded Parmesan, Romano, and/or Other Hard Cheese. You can use Mozzarella if you want, too! But I recommend including at least one smelly cheese for flavor.
- A few Kalmata Olives for each pizza. Yum!
- Anything else you’d like on there!
Pre-Bake The Mushrooms
Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease a casserole dish, toast pan (with sides to catch juices) or glass baking dish with olive oil. Remove stems (if present) from Portabella mushrooms, and place the caps upside down so that the fins face up. Drizzle a little olive oil over the mushrooms, and bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
Note: Alternatively, you could cook these little pizzas on your grill! Just put some tinfoil underneath them to catch stray juices and toppings!
Prepare Your Toppings & Learn to Chiffonade
Now, prepare your other ingredients. First, thinly slice up an onion and cook it down in some olive oil on high heat until it begins to brown. Then turn the heat down and cook over low heat until sweet and caramelized. I recommend using a well-seasoned cast iron pan for this task!
Dice up some little peppers of your choice and some garlic.
Pull a bunch of leaves of basil off of the stems along with the thinner, more tender stems. Line them all up one of top of the other going the same direction, then roll the leaves into a tight ball. Holding the ball in one hand, use your other to cut the ball into thin strips of basil with a large chef’s knife. This is called chiffonade!
Ciffonading is a great way to cut up all herbs and leafy greens. I also like to rip at the leaves and crush them with the knife and my hand. This makes them turn a darker color, and it really brings out the smell and flavor in things like basil. They’ve also recently done a study showing that this makes the greens you eat even more healthy because the leaves bring antioxidants to the surface to try and “heal” the rip/tear you just made in them. So abusing your veggies can make them better for you!
Slice the little tomatoes into halves or quarters using a serrated knife. Do the same with a few kalamata olives. Then drain the canned salmon (or prepare your fresh salmon by precooking it in a pan in some olive oil).
Top Your “Pizzas”
After their 5 minute pre-bake, remove the mushrooms from oven and add salt, pepper, fresh minced garlic, and a little more olive oil to the top. Then, layer on shredded parmesan and/or other hard cheeses, diced peppers, thinly sliced and crushed basil leaves, salmon, and all of your other toppings including those onions you caramelized!
If you want, you could put a tomato “sauce” on top by cooking down the tomatoes with a little water first and turning it into a paste through smashing or using a blender. Add rosemary, basil, a few fennel seeds, salt and pepper to the mix and you’ve got a great alternative to store-bought pizza sauce! I don’t feel this is necessary, however. With the fresh grape tomatoes on top, you won’t miss the red sauce!
Return the topped “pizzas” to the oven and continue to bake for about 20 minutes at 325 degrees. Check them after 15 to see how they’re doing! The cheese will get all melty, the toppings a bit crispy on top, and the mushrooms will turn a slightly darker color when done.
Some mushroom “juice” will have leaked out during the baking process. Pour this back over the pizzas or, better yet, onto your side salad! Yum!
Before serving, slice up a lemon into wedges and serve one on each plate for everyone to squeeze over their pizza. I love the combo of lemon, olive, and salmon together.
Side Salad: Choose Your Greens Wisely
On the side, how about serve a simple salad of arugula, fresh basil leaves, carrots, green onions, hot and sweet peppers and a few more of those delicious little tomatoes? Drizzle red wine or balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the top, a sprinkle of salt and freshly cracked black pepper, and you have an amazing side! Plus with greens like arugula, you’re getting tons more nutrients in your meal than you would with regular, sad old salad lettuces like iceberg.
We had some extra salmon left over, too, so I seared it in a pan and threw that on top of our side salad, as well. It was delicious!
P.S. Did you know that adding vinegar to your meal can help control your blood sugar/glycemic response to foods? I’ve always craved the stuff. I’ll even drink pickle juice right out of the jar if given the chance!
I also recently read this great article from the New York Times that once again confirmed that some of our most common grocery store veggies have had all the health bred out of them, but there are a few jewels remaining.
In the lettuce section, look for arugula. Arugula, also called salad rocket, is very similar to its wild ancestor. Some varieties were domesticated as recently as the 1970s, thousands of years after most fruits and vegetables had come under our sway. The greens are rich in cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates and higher in antioxidant activity than many green lettuces.
Scallions, or green onions, are jewels of nutrition hiding in plain sight. They resemble wild onions and are just as good for you. Remarkably, they have more than five times more phytonutrients than many common onions do. The green portions of scallions are more nutritious than the white bulbs, so use the entire plant. Herbs are wild plants incognito. We’ve long valued them for their intense flavors and aroma, which is why they’ve not been given a flavor makeover. Because we’ve left them well enough alone, their phytonutrient content has remained intact.
—Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food
By JO ROBINSON
Many of the best greens grow like weeds in your yard! Don’t throw out those dandelions you pull up next time. As long as they’ve grown out of the reach of dangerous pesticides, they’re a great addition to your next salad! They have 7 times the phytonutrients of our “super food” spinach. You can eat the greens and the flowers.
You can also consume tender young fiddle head ferns that you can find in the forests of Georgia where I grew up, and you can grow arugula easily in your yard! Toss out some seed next spring and watch it flourish! Your neighbors might think you’ve just gotten lazy about the weeds, but you won’t care because you’ll be eating delicious, healthy salads every night!
Not Just Delicious…
Part of what makes this meal so great for you is that it combines a variety of cooked and raw foods along with healthy fats coming from olives (& olive oil) and salmon, which is a complete protein. It also utilizes nutrient-rich greens and avoids processed carbohydrates and sugars.
P.S. If you’re interested, here’s another great NY Times article talking about how we should “mix it up” in terms of eating fresh/raw and cooked vegetables in order to the the widest mix of nutrient content and nutrient absorption. And eat more avocados, of course!