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Zox Kitchen

Zox Kitchen: February 1, 2013

Pizza: Healthy To Eat And Tasty, Too

What’s the most popular food in America—perhaps the world? Many would say pizza. Adults who are watching their weight still yen for this satisfying food. Children have no reservations about eating it any time of day or night. It became the fast food standard at my home and I bet for many families running home after work without dinner being ready.

Pizza as we know it has been around for over 100 years, first prepared by the baker Raffaele Esposito of Naples in 1889. And in North America, Gennaro Lombardi opened the first pizzeria in New York City in 1905. Today, the consumption level continues to reflect the popularity of this universal food. Mary Bellis of About.com Guide tells us that Americans eat approximately 350 slices of pizza per second, which is amazing to even imagine. The largest percentage of pizza slices, 36 percent, have pepperoni on them. However, in India pickled ginger, minced mutton, and paneer cheese are the favorite toppings. In Japan, a combination of mayonnaise, potato and bacon, eel and squid are the favorites. Green peas do the trick for Brazil and Russians love red herring pizza.

Whatever topping is your preference, pizza seems to satisfy many human needs: It’s easy to make at home or to pick up at the local pizza parlor; it quickly satisfies and fills us up; is inexpensive; and is delicious to eat. But it’s not always the healthiest dish to savor. And that’s why I was particularly struck by a healthy pizza alternative recommended by Patricia Wells, food writer and editor of the International Herald Tribune.

Alsatian Onion and Bacon (Pizza Like) Tart - One 12-inch round

8 ounces large white onions, peeled and cut crosswise into thin 1/8 inch rounds
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, cut into cubes
½ cup nonfat Greek-style yogurt or fromage blanc
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg    
Flour and polenta, for dusting1 recipe Quick Whole Wheat Bread Tart Dough, shaped into a ball
Course, freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
Place a baking stone or sheet tray with a lip on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Separate the onions into rings, making about 4 cups of loosely packed onions. Bring 1 quart of water to a simmer in the bottom of a steamer. Place the onions on the steaming rack over simmering water, cover, and steam until the onions are al dente—5-6 minutes. Remove the basket from the steamer to drain the onions.

In a large, dry skillet, brown the pancetta or bacon over moderate heat until crisp and golden—3-4 minutes. Transfer pancetta to several layers of paper towels to absorb the fat. Next, in a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, nutmeg, onions, and half of the pancetta. Stir to blend.

On a generously floured work surface, roll the dough (recipe below) into a 12-inch round. Sprinkle a large metal spatula with polenta, and place the round of dough on the spatula. Working quickly to keep the dough from sticking, assemble the tart. Spread the yogurt mixture evenly over the dough. Sprinkle with the remaining pancetta. Season liberally with black pepper. Slide the dough off the spatula onto the stone. Bake until the dough is crisp and golden and the top is bubbly, about 10 -12 minutes. With the spatula, remove the tart from the baking stone or sheet tray. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 8 wedges. Serve immediately.

Whole Wheat Bread Tart Dough

¾ cup whole-wheat flour

¾ cup bread flour- extra if needed for dusting

1 package instant yeast (2 ¼ teaspoon)

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In the bowl of a food processor, combine whole-wheat flour, bread flour, yeast, salt and sugar and pulse to mix. Combine ½ cup of hot water and the olive oil in a measuring cup. With the motor running, gradually add enough of the hot liquid for the mixture to form a sticky ball. The dough should be soft. If it is too dry, add 1-2 tablespoons more hot water. If too sticky, add 1-2 tablespoons flour. Process until the dough forms a ball.

Transfer to a clean, floured surface and knead by hand for 1 minute. Cover with a cloth and let rest for at least 10 minutes before rolling. Punch down the dough as necessary. A ready-made crust from your local bodega may be easier.