In the mood for pizza but don’t want to do any combination of the following: pick it up, pack on those pizza pounds, pay so much for it or wonder what, exactly, is in it? Well, with this recipe teens can create a most delicious (and healthy) pizza in pretty much the same time it takes for the pizza delivery person to arrive.
We know what you’re thinking: turkey, onions, pita – yuck! Au contraire. Don’t let the ingredients deceive you; the way they’re put together makes for a winning combination.
Granted, extra lean ground turkey is pretty lame in the taste department – okay, tasteless. But when it simmers in smoked tomatoes and a sea of spices it takes on a whole new flavor. And before you do anything with the turkey you slowly cook the onions, which caramelizes them, or brings out their natural sugars. And that pita bread – we know, so 1980s. But whole-wheat pitas are much more robust than the white ones, and when you crisp them up on cookie sheets they’re nearly as crunchy as tortilla chips. Then you add other pizza-perfect ingredients to each pita (more of what you like on yours and less of the stuff your little brother hates on his) and you’re done in a jiffy.
This recipe is extremely forgiving in the substitution department. Feel free to swap last night’s leftover cooked protein for the turkey (chop roasted chicken, for example, into little morsels and throw them in with the tomato and herbs) or use crumbled feta or goat cheese (four ounces instead of six, as these pack a more flavorful punch) for the Italian blend. And if you don’t have whole wheat pitas, no worries. Whole wheat Italian bread or French bread, the loaf sliced in half vertically then horizontally, works great too.
4 whole-wheat pitas (about 6 inches each in diameter)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean white meat turkey, ground
1 can (14.5 ounces) roasted/smoked diced tomatoes
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces shredded Italian cheeses (we used a blend of Asiago, parmesan, provolone and mozzarella)
4 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese, separated
1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
1 red or green bell pepper, washed, seeded and cut into strips
handful of pitted black olives, sliced
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a non-stick skillet over medium/low heat, sauté onions in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until the edges of the onions are brown. Stir every couple of minutes to keep the onions evenly cooked. Then add the turkey to the skillet, breaking up the meat and mixing it in with the onions. Raise the heat to medium. Stir the turkey every couple of minutes and cook until the pink is gone, which takes about eight minutes.
Next, add the diced tomatoes (plus bell and crushed peppers, if using) to the pan, along with the garlic powder, oregano, basil, fennel seeds and salt. Let simmer on low for about 10 minutes (stirring every now and then) or until most of the liquid is evaporated.
While the mixture is simmering, toss the pitas on a couple of cookie sheets and put them in the hot oven to crisp. (This will prevent your pizzas from getting soggy.) Take the pitas out after five minutes and keep them on the cookie sheets.
When the turkey mixture is ready, take a slotted spoon and spoon a quarter of it over each pita. Top each pita with (the olives, if using) a quarter of the cheese and top that with a teaspoon of the parmesan. Return the pizzas to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, or about five minutes. Enjoy!
– By Carol Leonetti Dannhauser
Copyright 2009, Rising Moon Media, LLC
Teams of culinary students from three Boston-area high schools competed in a culinary showdown recently at Quincy High School. The teenagers are all members of Future Chefs, a training program that helps inner city teens become better cooks, sharpen their skills, and land culinary internships with pros in the food business.
“You can go to school for cooking, but it’s not until you experience working in a kitchen that you know if it’s for you,’’ Future Chef judge Tara Lightbody told the Boston Globe.