It’s been ages since I blogged but I have to write about this one because I have come up with The Perfect Paleo Pizza Crust. It tastes pretty much like “regular” pizza. It’s easy and quick to make. It’s pliable but crusty at the edges and holds it shape well. It involves only a few ingredients. In addition to being paleo (provided you don’t put cheese on the finished pizza), it’s low-FODMAP, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian if you don’t use meat toppings. It’s even good cold. And it was born of desperation.
When I came up with this recipe, I was preparing to take the kids on a trip the next day. In preparation, I’d pretty much cleaned out the fridge of anything perishable. I did have, I thought, a few gluten-free wraps left. I was planning to make the kids wrap pizzas to eat on the train, though I was a bit stuck for what I’d eat myself. Canned fish, fruit and nuts, maybe. Then I discovered the wraps had gone mouldy. What was a mum who had promised brown-bag pizza to do?
One of the few things I had in the vegetable drawer was four parsnips. My family actually loves parsnips. My kids, three and six, complain about plenty of vegetables but they ask for seconds and thirds on roasted parsnip chips/fries. So, inspired by latkes, I thought I might be able to make a pizza crust out of grated parsnip.
I started at about midnight. I grated up those parsnips. I added ground almonds for crispness, tapioca flour and eggs for binding, and just a little salt and pepper for flavour. I mixed it up and spread it out on two pizza-ish pans to bake. If I were a praying woman I think I would have prayed.
The crusts came out perfect-looking. I still hadn’t tasted them but, continuing to not-really-pray, I spread them with homemade pasta sauce and added toppings. I did black olives and chicken breast for myself. (I would have added more vegetables normally but the fridge was practically empty). The kids, who don’t have a problem with dairy, got ham and cheddar, which they prefer to mozzarella. Then, since all the toppings were pre-cooked, I put them back in the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt and begin to brown on top. It came out looking amazing.
Since my pizza was larger than I needed for lunch and since I was peckish, I ate a bit of mine as a midnight snack. And WOW. Was it GOOD. Exactly how a thin-crust pizza should taste. No cauliflower to laboriously squeeze through a cheesecloth. No overly-crusty nutty pizza to make the kids complain their pizza tastes like cookies, in a bad way. It lifted off the non-stick baking paper easily. Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing I could have done to make this more perfect.
Since then, we have made our 4P pizza (Perfect Paleo Parsnip Pizza) many times. I have refined the quantities and now I generally make more at once than my family can eat because we love the leftovers. We have served it to a number of guests, kids and adults alike, and everybody has loved it. It has come out perfectly every time, except the one time we used an inferior brand of baking paper that turned out not to be very non-stick. It still tasted great but it was a pain to get off the paper. Lesson learned: don’t cheap out on the baking paper.My favourite way to top this pizza is with pesto, grilled vegetables (I often take a shortcut and use frozen chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables), olives, and chicken. Sometimes I add goat cheese, sometimes I don’t. My kids like salami and mushroom, while my husband seems to particularly enjoy sausage and vegetables. No matter what, though, it’s delicious. My six-year-old even said recently that it was better than pizza at the White Rabbit, which is her favourite place to eat out and has seriously the best gluten-free pizza I’ve ever had at a restaurant. High praise.
Perfect Paleo Parsnip Pizza Crust
- 500 g parsnips, trimmed (peeling is optional if you wash well)
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup tapioca flour
- 1 t salt
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped (optional)
- 4 medium eggs (3 extra-large eggs might do it too)
- Grate parsnips fairly finely using a food processor and put in a large bowl.
- Add almond flour, tapioca flour, salt, pepper, and eggs. Mix well.
- Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C.
- Spread out as thinly as possible without making holes on pizza pans lined with non-stick baking foil or good non-stick baking paper. Use your hand or the back of a fork to press down evenly. I ended up with two large rectangular baking-sheet-sized pizzas and one small personal sized pizza. They did shrink slightly in the pan, by about 1 cm in diameter for the larger pizzas.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden. If using two racks, switch pizzas halfway through. Crust must be baked before adding toppings and re-baking.