This is a post from NF Rebel Chef Noel.
There is a demon I battle on a regular basis: The Pizza Demon.
Pizza is my favorite food of all time. I am not a college student, nor am I a fourth grader who gets a day off from learning for a pizza party. I am a fully grown adult who just freakin’ loves pizza. I also have a feeling I’m not alone in my love for this particular Italian invention.
But we all know eating tons of bread, sauce, and cheese isn’t going to help us much in our quest to become a superhero (unless you’re a Ninja Turtle).
If you’re looking for an easy paleo alternative to pizza, we’ve got you covered. It’s not a totally perfect replacement, but it might help you get through any pizza cravings (and it’ll help you get more veggies into your day).
Further, this recipe can be made totally vegetarian or vegan (we hear you and we don’t want you guys feeling left out!).
Not only is this recipe paleo and vegetarian, but it’ll boost your confidence in the kitchen. This is a simple recipe that lets the ingredients do the talking:
Choose your favorite pizza toppings, like some good quality veggies, and the smells of them cooking will let you know you’re on the right track.
And don’t let the ingredient list scare you off. Most of these things can be found in the same section of the grocery store (veggie section and pasta/tomato sauce section). If there are too many ingredients, feel free to cut some of them out. If there are things you don’t like, just eliminate them! This is YOUR personal pizza. You add what you want!
Chop some veggies, assemble them atop mushroom “crusts,” and pop them in the oven for 15 minutes or so. No sweat.
You can totally do this.
Ready! Set! GO!
Serves: 2-4 people
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 32 minutes
4 Portobello Mushrooms – These are the big ones. They come in packages or in bulk. The ones in the packages tend to get slimy and moldy more quickly than the bulk ones in my experience. So if you can, pick your own!
1/2 Cup (118 mL) Tomato Sauce – Jars of sauce are better than cans (unless you can find a BPA-free brand of tomato sauce at your store). But don’t sweat it. A jar of spaghetti sauce will work just fine.
Sprinkling of “Italian spices” – You may have some of this left over from that time you made Paleo Spaghetti. If not, take a stroll down the spice aisle at the store while you’re out.
Red pepper flake to taste (optional) – I like my food to have a little kick to it.
Salt & Pepper to taste (optional).
2 Cloves of garlic or 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) of the pre minced stuff.
4 Tbsp (59 mL) olive oil – approximately 1 tbsp per mushroom cap.
2 Tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar (optional) – approximately 1/2 tbsp per mushroom cap.
The toppings on your pizza will be completely up to you – it depends on your own preference.
Personally, I like to use a lot of veggies. Maybe you can use this as an opportunity to try something new! Here is a list of toppings I suggest. Add or subtract as you please!
1/2 Cup (118 mL) Spinach – don’t worry about measurement accuracy with the spinach. 1/2 cup is about half a hand full.
1/2 Bell pepper
2 Tbsp (30 mL) sliced black olives – You can find these in cans, jars, or in bulk if your local market has an olive bar.
1/4 Red onion
1/8 cup (30 mL) mozzarella cheese (optional) – If you can handle eating cheese and want to add it to your pizzas, go right ahead. If you’re 100% paleo or avoiding cheese, no problem! The veggies are flavorful enough to make this recipe tasty without it.
Fresh Basil (optional) – Here we’ll just use a few fresh leaves and cut a chiffonade (a fancy French term for cutting mint or basil into ribbons) to sprinkle on the pizza. Because I love me some fresh basil.
Italian Sausage (optional) – Where I shop, you can buy ground sausage in bulk and cook it yourself. They also have sausages of different types in casings for purchase. I would suggest a “Spicy Italian” sausage or a “Chicken Basil” sausage if you want to add some protein to your pizza. As always, check the ingredients list. Applegate Farms makes a pretty clean product.
Important!** Make sure you cook the sausage BEFORE adding it to your pizza. The time in the oven isn’t going to be enough to cook raw meat all the way through.
Parchment paper or foil – for lining the sheet to make cleanup easier!
Knife & cutting board – for cutting your veggies.
Spoon – for adding the sauce onto the pizza.
Basting brush – for brushing the mushroom caps with olive oil and vinegar. If you don’t have a brush, it’s not a big deal. You can use a paper towel or a small amount of spinach or lettuce leaves as a brush. You could also use a spoon to drizzle and spread the oil and vinegar onto the mushroom caps. It won’t be pretty or even, but it will work in a pinch.
Paleo Pizza Instructions:
1. Wash your hands and your veggies. Your mushrooms may have some dirt on them. You can brush the dirt off of them off with a paper towel.
2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
3. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
4. If you’re using sausage or another meat, this would be a good time to cook it. Pre-heat a pan over the stove and throw your ground sausage or a sausage link into the pan. Cook for 10-15 minutes on medium heat stirring occasionally until there is no more pink visible. Drain the meat and set it aside in a bowl with your other prepped toppings. If you bought sausages in link form, slice it!
5. Turn your mushrooms over and pull out the stem of the mushroom. You can use your hands for this. It should come out fairly easily.
6. Place the mushrooms on your baking sheet. Brush the tops and bottoms with olive oil first and then vinegar.
7. Now place your mushrooms bottom side up and sprinkle your Italian spices, red pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.
8. Next, take your minced garlic (refresher on how to mince garlic in this post) and spread some onto each cap.
9. Your oven should be pre-heated by now. Take your mushrooms and place them in the oven for about 7 minutes. This is called par-broiling. We do this because the mushrooms are thick and will take a bit longer to cook than the veggie toppings on your pizzas. Pre-cooking the mushroom caps to about 70-80% of the way done ahead of time will ensure the mushrooms are cooked through and the toppings are not overdone.
10. While we’re waiting for the mushrooms to cook, it’s time to prep our other ingredients.
Cut your bell pepper into slices:
Slice your onion:
Nothing too fancy here. After you peel it, cut 3 or 4 slices and then cut those in half:
If using basil, now is the time to “chiffonade” it:
Stack some of your basil leaves on top of each other 5-6 should be fine. Then roll them up like this:
Then take your knife and slice the rolled up leaves like this:
When you’re done slicing, fluff the shredded leaves with your hands and you’ll have ribbons! Use these on your pizza and as garnish to add flavor and a nice visual finish.
If your olives aren’t pre-sliced, you can slice those too. Mine came sliced already.
When making pizzas, it’s nice to have all the ingredients out and ready to use. I prepped mine like this:
If preparing your veggies takes you more than 7 minutes, that’s totally okay (it took me longer than that). It’s always best to err on the side of slow and safe when it comes to using a knife. Just take your mushrooms out of the oven when the timer goes off and let them cool for a little while you finish prepping your toppings.
11. Once you’ve finished prepping your toppings, move the pan of par-broiled mushrooms to your table with the toppings. If your pan is still hot, set it on a kitchen towel so it doesn’t burn or melt your table.
12. Now, you can place your toppings on the pizza any way you like, but I usually start with the sauce. Spoon your sauce onto the mushrooms and spread it around.
13. Then take your toppings and divide them liberally among your mushroom caps. Tell me those colorful fresh mushroom caps don’t look awesome and delicious!
14. When you’re done adding toppings to your pizzas, pop them back in the oven for 15 more minutes.
Once they’re done, let them cool for a minute or two before serving. I like my pizzas with a side salad.
If the thought of a few miniature pizzas for dinner isn’t enough to satisfy your hunger, it’s totally cool to use mini pizza as a side to your chicken, steak, or other protein option. Or make a legen…(wait for it)….dary! salad to go along with it.
I’ll be the first to admit this recipe isn’t a perfect replacement for regular pizza. There are lots of recipes out there that can give you tips on creating a cauliflower or coconut flour-based crust for a closer, paleo-ish substitute. If you’re into that, awesome! Try it out and tell me how it is!
However, this recipe will give you a less complicated, less time consuming whole-food based option. It’s a recipe you can enjoy making and eating with friends and family. Kiddos love assembling their own personal pizzas! The older ones can help slice and dice and the littles can assemble a masterpiece.
Create positive memories in the kitchen from an early age, and you can help them learn to love healthy cooking from the start!
Try it out and let us know how you like it.
What are some of the food demons you struggle with?
(If you want, please feel free to draw a picture and add it to the comments.)
What methods do you use to battle them?
PS: We’ve been adding these recipes and a few dozen more to our Nerd Fitness Academy, which has recipes, meal plans, workout plans, and the ability to complete quests and missions and level up as you get healthier. Check it out!
- Discover if Paleo is for you
- The one simple trick to know if your food is Paleo-friendly
- Easy Paleo recipes for beginners to get you started
- 4 Portobello Mushrooms
- ½ cup (118 mL) Tomato Sauce
- Sprinkling of "Italian spices"
- Red pepper flake to taste (optional)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 2 cloves of garlic or ½ tsp (2.5 mL) of the pre minced stuff
- 4 Tbsp (59 mL) olive oil - approximately 1 Tbsp per mushroom cap
- 2 Tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar (optional) - approximately ½ tbsp per mushroom cap
- ½ cup (118 mL) Spinach
- ½ Bell Pepper
- 2 Tbsp (30 mL) Sliced Black Olives
- ¼ of a Red Onion
- ⅛ cup (30 mL) Mozzarella Cheese (optional)
- 4-5 leaves Fresh Basil (optional)
- ½ cup (118 mL) Cooked Italian Sausage (optional)
- Wash your hands and your veggies. Your mushrooms may have some dirt on them. You can brush the dirt off of them off with a paper towel.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
- Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- If you're using sausage, this would be a good time to cook it. Pre-heat a pan over the stove and throw your ground sausage or a sausage link into the pan. Cook for 10-15 minutes on medium heat stirring occasionally until there is no more pink visible.
- Turn your mushrooms over and pull out the stem of the mushroom. You can use your hands for this. It should come out fairly easily.
- Place the mushrooms on your baking sheet. Brush the tops and bottoms with olive oil first and then vinegar.
- Now place your mushrooms bottom side up and sprinkle your Italian spices, red pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Next, take your minced garlic (refresher on how to mince garlic in this post) and spread some onto each cap.
- Your oven should be pre-heated by now. Take your mushrooms and place them in the oven for about 7 minutes.
- While we're waiting for the mushrooms to cook, it's time to prep our other ingredients.
- Cut your bell pepper into slices, slice your onion, and chiffonade your basil if using. If your olives aren't pre-sliced, you can slice those too. Mine came sliced already.
- Once you've finished prepping your toppings, move the pan of par-broiled mushrooms to your table with the toppings. If your pan is still hot, set it on a kitchen towel so it doesn't burn or melt your table.
- Now you can place your toppings on the pizza any way you like, but I usually start with the sauce. Spoon your sauce onto the mushrooms and spread it around.
- Then take your toppings and divide them liberally among your mushroom caps. Tell me those colorful fresh mushroom caps don't look awesome and delicious!
- When you're done adding toppings to your pizzas, pop them back in the oven for 15 more minutes.
4 Portobello Mushrooms
1 can or jar of tomato sauce
Red Pepper Flakes
1 bulb Garlic or a jar of minced garlic
Bunch of Spinach
1 Bell Pepper
Can or jar of black olives (or bulk olives from an olive bar)
1 Red Onion
Mozzarella cheese (optional)
Fresh Basil (optional)
Italian sausage - ground or in links - (optional)