It's funny; after trying every single grain-free pizza crust, my go-to staple is still the meatza. It's the least like an actual pizza, but it's so easy to make and very filling. I wanted to develop a version without dairy, and this is what I devised. I used ground beef for the "crust" and topped it with eggplant, olives, and tomatoes.
I used homemade pesto as the sauce. The addition of spinach keeps it green (basil-only pesto quickly turns brown) and added a bit of lemon juice for the tang that usually results from parmesan. I used walnuts because the omega-3:omega-6 ratio is so much more favorable than pine nuts (1:4 for walnuts as compared with 1:300 for pine nuts, according to NutritionData). I also used a couple tips that I got from Cook's Illustrated magazine: blanch the garlic to take away some of the raw edge, and bruise the basil leaves with a meat pounder to release the full flavor of the herb.
MEATZA WITH EGGPLANT AND SPINACH-WALNUT PESTO
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp Italian herb mix (or use 1/2 tsp dried basil + 1/2 tsp dried oregano)
- 1 tsp Adobo seasoning (or use 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp ground black pepper, and 1/8 tsp onion powder)
- 1 small eggplant, very thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer)
- Grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved
- Sliced black olives
- Spinach-walnut pesto (recipe follows; you will not use all of it)
- Olive oil or other fat of choice for cooking
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the broiler. Set eggplant slices in a single layer on a broiler pan. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil 4-5 minutes on each side or until just starting to brown. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 450 F
- Thoroughly combine the beef, egg, herbs, and Adobo seasoning.
- Line a large pan with parchment paper (I used a round cake pan) or spray with olive oil. Pack the meat into the pan, making it slightly thicker at the outer edges to resemble a crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done.
- Spread with pesto and top with eggplant, olives, and tomatoes. Broil for 2-3 minutes and serve, cut into wedges.
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
- 3 medium cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted (I baked them at 350 in the toaster oven for a couple minutes until fragrant)
- 5 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Thread the garlic cloves onto a skewer and hold them in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Set aside to cool, then peel.
- Put the basil leaves in a large plastic bag and pound with a meat mallet until bruised.
- In a food processor, combine the garlic, oil, and walnuts. Process until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process again until pureed. Keeps in the fridge for a week or so, or can be frozen.
Freezing directions: Cut into wedges and freeze overnight on a plate or baking sheet. The next day, individually wrap the wedges and transfer to a freezer bag.