Gluten Free Zucchini & Oat Flour Pizza

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on July 17, 2015

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com The last few months, I’ve been on a quest to help maximize the nutrition in my mother’s meals. One of her other favorite meals is pizza, but the traditional flour based pizza crusts are too bulky for her to digest.  I knew that coming up with something she would be able to eat was going to be a challenge, and decided to start looking for an option in an unlikely place.

I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, so I started looking at some paleo recipes that were vegetable based with ‘flours’ that would be easy to modify or switch out completely. The vegetable based pizzas I’m referring to are things like cauliflower or zucchini pizzas that became so popular with everyone several months ago. Many of the reviews that I read on both types ranged from ‘great and delicious’ to ‘soggy and disappointing’. This was not going to be an easy task, but I was willing to give it a shot…

The problem with using vegetables is that they contain a lot of water. This was going to be a big problem and would explain why many of the complaints said the crusts were soggy. I had to decide whether I was going to use cauliflower or zucchini, and then figure out how to remove as much of the water as I could up front, and then use what remained to my advantage.

I decided to go with using zucchini, because it did not need to be cooked (like cauliflower) and is something that is easily sourced year round.

OK, so I had decided on the vegetable, now I had to figure out what type of flour I was going to use for strength and texture — and how it was going to come together. I wanted to avoid using yeast, and focus more on using some acid plus some baking soda to help in the leavening. Again, I was after something easy here.

Out of convenience, I decided that I would use oat flour – it’s something that I always have on hand (rolled oats) and I can quickly grind some of it into oat flour at a moment’s notice, so no unnecessary ingredients in the pantry.

I’ve been eating oats for years — in my hot cereal, cold muesli and my homemade granola. Recently, I had switched out my Quaker brand old fashioned oats for a gluten free variety – so, if I could make this work, this was going to be a win-win situation all the way around.

I didn’t have to worry too much about using casein in her meals (from cheese) although it would be easy to switch it out with a vegan option if I had to. We don’t eat a lot of cheese, so that part is not a big problem for us. There are a few good options that provide that gooey factor in the event that I have to change this in the future.

I started with a basic paleo recipe that I found floating around in a million places on the web, and then worked on tweaking it as I went along. The final result was so delicious that even I could not believe how good it really was.

This type of pizza takes the mozzarella well as a topping, but any added moisture from a sauce may be a problem – especially if it is really thin –so if you choose to use a tomato or a pesto sauce, use something that has been cooked and is fairly thick. Instead of using a tomato sauce, you might want to add some tomato paste to the crust itself, or some finely diced sun dried tomatoes to substitute for that tomato flavor. To be honest, I didn’t miss it at all. If you choose NOT to use the tomato paste, the pizza will still be extraordinarily good.

This recipe provides roughly a 10” pizza crust that I would consider as more of a personal pan size for 1 hungry person, so make sure to adjust the recipe according to how many you need or how hungry you are.

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza (makes 1- 10” crust)
3 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 ½ medium/large zucchini)
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon vinegar (I used white balsamic)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
good pinch of pepper
1 ½ -2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon tomato paste**optional
1-2 tablespoons olive oil **optional to drizzle on top after it has baked

Shred the zucchini and place it in a medium sized container, top with the 1 teaspoon of salt and stir it in well to coat all of the zucchini. Cover and leave this in the refrigerator overnight. You can do this one of two ways. You can leave the zucchini in the container with the salt or you can put it into a strainer (if you have one large enough) over another container to drain in the fridge overnight. Usually for me, deciding on which way to go depends on how much stuff I have in the fridge! This time I chose to leave it in a small plastic container…

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

The next day, you will see just how much water has come out of the zucchini…see all the liquid on the right?

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Spoon some of the zucchini onto a piece of cheese cloth and wring out as much of the moisture as you can, then put the strained zucchini into a medium sized mixing bowl and then repeat with the rest.

Once this is finished, add the egg, oil, shredded cheddar, oat flour, tomato paste (if you are using it), baking soda, vinegar and all of the spices in with the zucchini and stir this until really well combined. You should have a fairly firm (but still spreadable) ball of dough, like this…

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Preheat your oven to 400°F and place your cast iron skillet into the oven to heat completely before adding the dough. The pre-heating and the use of the cast iron skillet gives this a really delicious crispiness all over, especially on the bottom.

My cast iron skillet has the raised grill on the bottom, so after I spread the batter on the bottom of my (pre-heated and well greased) cast iron skillet, I had to flip mine out onto a well greased parchment lined sheet tray to finish baking off in the oven. If you have a regular cast iron skillet without a raised grill, you don’t have to do this. You can just leave the crust in the pan to cook on the bottom and turn a lovely brown color on the top before adding your mozzarella cheese and baking for a few more minutes.

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

I baked the crust for about 10-15 minutes and made sure that the bottom of the pizza crust was a deep golden brown color before I flipped it out onto a greased, paper lined sheet pan. I checked the bottom by carefully removing the cast iron pan from the oven and used a small spatula to check the bottom. Greasing the parchment paper is very important here to enhance even more crispiness as the crust bakes on what was the top (but is now the bottom) of the pizza crust. You will also see the crust take on a golden brown color around the edge of the skillet, which will let you know that it might be ready.

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Once both sides have become a deep golden brown color, remove from the oven and add the shredded mozzarella cheese, then place back in the oven to melt the cheese completely, another 3-5 minutes at the most. Once the cheese has melted and has taken on a little golden color itself, remove from the oven and allow it to rest for a minute or so before using a pizza cutter to slices into desired slices. Drizzle on the 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and allow it to cool slightly for better handling before serving.

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Gluten Free Zucchini Pizza, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

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