Spring Mediterranean Gluten Free Potluck: Allergy Free Vegetarian Pizza Recipe

May 15th, 2008 yum Posted in Carol Fenster, Cooking for Karina, Dairy Free, Egg Free, GF Support Groups, Nut Free, Soy Free 7 Comments »

Pesto Grilled Veggie Pizza- one on Chebe crust (front) and the other slice (back) on Carol’s crust…

potlucktreats.jpgLast weekend Dh and I hosted the monthly potluck for our Celiac Bay Area group. I had sent out a call for food matching a “spring mediterranean” theme, and we ended up with an absolutely amazing feast. Just goes to show, this whole gluten-intolerance thing can inspire some serious creativity in the kitchen! For appetizers we had Bruschetta made on Mariposa Bakerires GF DF NF Baguette, Caponata on the same bruschetta toast, Dolma (Stuffed Grape AND Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with veg and non-veg versions). We also had a lovely salad, and then… the main course dishes! We had TONS of pizza. I guess when gluten-free folks like myself think mediterranean, we can’t help but think PIZZA! One thing about our group that keeps things interesting is that we aren’t all JUST gluten-free. We also have folks with other allergies to things like beans, dairy, eggs, and even nuts. So, I always try to make a little extra effort so everyone can eat as many things as possible. With that in mind, I modified the heck out of a flatbread recipe by Bette Hagman to make an olive flatbread with no DAIRY, no SOY, no EGGS, and no NUTS. I also made some special pizzas using Carol Fenster’s awesome pizza recipe (a staple in my house for the last ten years at least, I swear!) with no allergens that were also just plain YUMMY! I made two kinds of “pesto” pizzas- one for our super-complex-allergy member out of slow roasted tomatoes, sundried tomatoes and high quality olive oil with NO NUTS whatsoever, and then a variation on my usual dairy-free basil pesto pizzas. Then I topped both with various home grilled veggies as the spirit moved me. I also made some variations with cheese because it DOES add a little extra flavor oomph— but I do think that pizza doesn’t need it to be scrumptious. Other members brought non-veg cheese pizzas, and another brought a moroccan orange non-veg dish, and a vegetarian ratatouille. carrotcake.jpgWe had one special guest- Dana from Gluten-free Gourmet, a baker who has recently started selling her gluten-free products at the Saratoga Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. Dana brought a shrimp-cheese pizza and a delicious carrot cake with cheese frosting to share with us for dessert. Non-GF DH thoroughly enjoyed it- although I think for him, it was all about the frosting. I thought it was an excellent treat as well, and just wish Saratoga wasn’t so far away! (You can see the photo of Dana’s treat on the left.) Speaking of dessert, one talented member actually brought Fresh Orange Slices with Honey and Cinnamon as well as Turkish Delight, a.k.a. Lokum. I made No-refined-sugar, dairy-free, soy-free Coconut Lemon Bars. (I’ll be sharing the recipe soon.) For beverages we had a variety of wines and Dugh, a very intriguing Fizzy Yogurt Drink. (Really! fizzy! Think a salty lassi with bubbles.) It was an amazing feast.

And now- for the recipes! One of the most interesting recipes that I made for this potluck was a totally allergen-free sundried tomato pizza. As you may know, I have been happily using Carol Fenster’s pizza recipe, available at her Savory Palate web site and in many of her books, for a very long time. I have developed some special tricks for working with the dough over the years that I really wanted to share it with you, but since I don’t publish recipes by gluten-free cookbook authors without permisison, I emailed Carol Fenster for permission to reprint a modified version of the recipe. She graciously gave permission, so you can see the recipe below, modified to be dairy free and vegetarian and including my dough tricks. Carol recently released Gluten-Free Quick & Easy: From Prep to Plate Without the Fuss. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m sure it’s full of great recipes just like her others. Two of my favorite gluten-free recipes ever have come from Carol Fenster- her pizza crust and her equally yummy flatbread. I also like her recipes for their flexibility with flours- if you have multiple flour allergies besides gluten, you can easily adjust her master flour blends to accommodate those intolerances, with excellent results. So, if you haven’t tried any of Carol’s recipes yet- I hope you will, and if you’re a long term fan like many of us, I hope you’ll take this chance to check out her new cookbook!

For another grilled veggie pizza, see my post on The Best Gluten-Free Pizza ever.

Adapted Carol Fenster’s Pizza Crust Recipe
1 tablespoon dry yeast

2/3 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning OR “pasta seasoning” mix like Trader Joe’s

2/3 cup warm non-dairy milk (110) (rice etc.)

1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Put a pizza stone on the bottom rack, leaving the main rack free.

Combine dry ingredients in your mixer, including yeast. Then add the liquid ingredients slowly and beat the ingredients for two minutes. If the dough bounces around the mixer, it’s too dry, so add extra liquid a little at a time until it will mix smoothly.

Prepare a pizza pan by greasing it either with nonstick baking spray (NO FLOUR VARIETY) or grease the pizza pan with a little olive oil.

Next, take your mixed dough and either split it for two mini pizzas or use it for one large pizza. throw your dough on the pizza pan (rectangular pan for two, round for one) and take a freezer-quality ziploc bag. Either spray with nonstick baking spray OR grease with a little olive oil. Put your hand inside the bag and use it to spread the dough out into a pizza shape, giving the dough a little rim around the edge to hold the toppings.

Bake for ten minutes and then remove from the oven. I like to baste the crust in oil from sundried tomato pesto. Cover the pizza with your desired toppings and then move the pizza stone to the middle rack and put your covered pizza on the pizza stone and bake it for at least ten minutes or until the pizza is done.

THIS PHOTO SHOWS THE HALF-BAKED DOUGH BEFORE THE second-baking on the pizza stone. After baking the second time, especially after pesto basting, the dough turns golden brown. The pizza stone really makes the dough nice and crispy so I highly, highly recommend one!
Slow Roasted Tomato Recipe
2 lbs or more of your favorite medium sized tomato
high quality olive oil
sea salt
a dash of sugar
Chili flakes or any other desired seasoning (not too many, though- you want the tomato flavor to be central!)
Preheat oven to 200F
Slice your tomatoes and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, ground pepper, and a teeny amount of sugar.

Space the tomatoes out evenly on a dark baking pan (or whatever you have). Bake for an hour and a half and then raise temperature to 225f or 250f, and bake for at least another 45 minutes. Your tomatoes should have shrunk somewhat but still be slightly moist. Remember, you’re not making sundried tomatoes, but intensifying and condensing the flavor.

Yummy yummy! Great for using in all kinds of recipes!
Dairy-free, Nut-free Vegan Sundried Tomato Pesto Recipe
8 or more high quality sundried tomatoes (fresh packed)
4 slow roasted tomatoes
1-2 slow roasted garlic cloves
1/8 cup high quality olive oil
freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
Soak your sundried tomatoes in hot water for 30 minute or so and then drain.

Combine all ingredients in your food processor. Blend and taste. Adjust seasonings, add more olive oil if desired.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use it for pasta too! Here the pesto is pictured with some Glutino corn pasta with grilled veggies and a touch of marinara. Enjoy!
Dairy Free Basil Pesto Recipe for Pizza or Pasta
2 cups basil leaves, destemmed, and packed tightly
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (*Edited to have more nuts)
1/6 cup rice wine or cider vinegar
1/8 cup water
1/6 cup nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
2 cloves roasted garlic (bake with other dishes in the oven or use raw if you like)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Your favorite gluten-free pizza recipe (from mix, scratch (carol fenster) or pre-made)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender through the garlic, and pulse until ingredients are combined and chopped. Add olive oil in a steady stream with the machine on until you form a nice pesto paste. Scrape out pesto into a bowl and reserve.

Reserve one or two tablespoons of pesto for other recipes like my buckwheat grit pesto fries! You can use it for pizza:

Prepare your gluten-free pizza according to recipe and top with pesto. Add any other ingredients you like (olives? artichoke hearts? portabella mushroom slices?) and bake according to instructions. (Usually 10-15 minutes). Slice and enjoy!

Or for pasta:
Combine with gluten-free pasta, grilled veggies and plenty of pesto. Yum!

Gluten-Free Grilled Vegetable Pizza Recipe *Dairy Optional*
1/2 recipe dairy-free, nut free sundried tomato pesto (recipe in files)
Enough slow roasted tomato slices to cover your pizza (recipe in files)
High Quality Organic marinara sauce

1 whole portobello mushroom
1/2 red pepper
Several creamy white potatoes
1 zucchini, sliced horizontally
1/2 red onion, sliced
olive oil
Pasta seasoning blend, salt, pepper to taste

1 recipe Carol Fenster brown rice pizza crust (can be made with rice milk for dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free)

*OPTIONAL* equal amounts of grated romano and mozarella cheese

Assemble pesto, slow roasted tomato slices, and marinara sauce and reserve.

Season some olive oil with your pasta seasoning mix (or italian seasoning mix) as well as salt and pepper, and baste your whole mushroom and red pepper, zucchini, red onion, and potatoes. (Actually, I threw the potatoes in with the tomatoes while I was roasting them and then grilled them after they were mostly baked.) Grill your vegetables and then reserve them for the pizza.

Bake pizza crust for ten minutes and then top with pesto, slow-roasted tomato slices. Fill in the holes with marinara sauce. Top with grilled veggies and cheese, if you like, but this pizza was designed to be delicious without cheese. Bake for another ten or fifteen minutes on a pizza stone and enjoy!

Additional Pictures
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Report on 2008 San Francisco Gluten-Free Cooking Spree- GF Product Reviews, Dish Summaries

February 21st, 2008 yum Posted in Bay Area, Blog News, GF Support Groups 19 Comments »

cookingspree16.jpgcookingspree21.jpgOn February 2nd, DH and I drove through a wintery, rainy San Francisco night to get to the Gluten-Free Cooking Spree held at the West Bay Conference Center. When I f irst heard of this gloriously Gluten-Free event, I was immediately hooked. It sounded like a new take on an American Iron Chef, with a dinner theme, a bar stocked with GF beer and hard cider, live music, and a whole party of other gluten-free folks to enjoy it with. What’s not to love? From my experience, few people can enjoy good food like gluten-free folks, and a whole party full of catered food we didn’t have to make sounded amazing. Not only that, but proceeds were to support Celiac research. A good cause AND good gluten-free food, what more could I ask for?

cookingspree19.jpgWe arrived at the convention center and found ourselves in the lobby with the coat check and reception desks. Those with a VIP pass were allowed first dibs on the main conference room and its goodies, as well as champagne. Unfortunately DH and I hadn’t splurged on a VIP ticket, so we got our goodie bag (Containing Bob’s Red Mill GF Oats and an individual serving of Bob’s Red Mill GF cereal… there might have been another small item but I can’t quite remember), and cooled our heels in the lobby.

Delicious smells were wafting out into the hall when finally they let us in to the main room full of yummy food. The first thing we saw was a buffet table piled high with cookies and a gorgeous, decadent chocolate fountain. Marshmallows and fresh fruit were piled all around the chocolate fountain. Those chocolate fountains are usually off limits due to the prevalence of wheat-based dippers, but this time all the offerings were completely free of all gluten, so it was fair game.

The theme for the night was “pasta.” Chef teams composed of nutritionists, chefs, and doctors concocted a variety of dishes based around this theme.

Competitive dishes included:

cookingspree9.jpgcookingspree8.jpgUnGlu’d Mac’N'Cheese *there was some unfortunate confusion over this dish. Apparently one version was vegetarian and the other contained bacon. Confusingly, both times it was listed in the ingredient lists the recipe included bacon. C’mon guys, do you NEED the brown crackly stuff? If I were to make a dairy-decadent mac and cheese for an event like this, I’d personally go a bit more gourmet with it and choose a white rice pasta or at least use Tinkyada brown rice pasta and pair it with smoked cheese or more exciting cheeses than just cheddar and parmesan. To me it was a bit on the bland side.

Risotto Salsicia, a meaty dish that didn’t stand out for DH.

Chicken Schnitzel Schloss Solitude DH’s hands down favorite, a dish reminiscent of our Austrian experience

Poached Salmon with Pappardelle & Meyer Lemon Crème Fraiche garnished with brussel sprout leaves (photo on right). The pasta was overcooked, but the brussel sprouts were tasty.

and Prosciutto Wrapped Salmon with Herbed Polenta, Kasha, Dried Fig & Balsamic.

In case you were wondering, the two salmon dishes won the competition- and the mac and cheese won with the kid voters. Hmmm…
Unfortunately, while I love the idea of the competition, some of the competition dishes were only fair, especially those using the pasta. It is very difficult not to overcook pasta, and non-gluten free chefs may not realize the importance of rinsing the pasta in cool water to remove excess starch, not only stopping the cooking process but also removing excess gluey starches. Luckily there was no shortage of dishes, such as Bell and Evans gluten-free non-veg nuggets, Organic Bistro frozen meals (non-veg and not my personal favorites), and some rather plain fried rice (non-veg). Things were looking pretty bleak for the vegetarians in the audience, but luckily the Brazilian Cheese Bread Company was there to save the day.


I first encountered the Brazilian Cheese Company at the Gluten-free mecca, Harvest House in Concord, California, where they sold frozen rolls for about $12.00. It was a steep price, but I tried one pack of their garlic cheese rolls. They were tasty, but ultimately, I couldn’t justify the expense so I haven’t made them part of my regular diet. However, the rolls at the gluten-free cooking spree and the cheesy, cheesy pizza they served were out of this world and I enjoyed every bite. My favorite was the sun-dried tomato cheese bread “pão de queijo,” closely followed by that yummy pizza. Apparently they will soon be offering the pizza crust in retail stores near you, so look for it! (And prepare yourself for the probable sticker shock, sigh).


cookingspree15.jpg cookingspree1.jpgWhole Foods also generously provided a full array of pies (alas, after I was too full to eat any more!), tons of gorgeous and yummy cookies and bread. I do love their Gluten-free baked products. There was tons of different bread slices but no sundried tomato bread. *sniff* Too bad. They had…

Honey Oat Bread (Nope, I didn’t try it, but I’m REALLY curious)
Sourdough Bread
Chocolate Chip Cookies (yum! too bad I was so full!)
Peanut Butter Cookies (double yum! too bad about the being full thing, really got in the way!)
Apple, Cherry, and Pecan Pie


cookingspree231.jpgAzna offered gluten-free AND vegan treats for those who are lactose intolerant- a breath of fresh air for those who couldn’t eat many of the very dairy-centric dishes offered at the cooking spree. Personally I’m not sure pinto bean flour is my favorite flour base, but they offered:

Double Chocolate Brownies that looked pretty good- if only I had been hungry at that point
Scones and
Cinnamon Rolls (interesting idea but they were a bit on the flat, heavy side)

ricebread.jpgcookingspree7.jpgCharlotte’s Bakery had some pretty tasty bread, too. It tasted like home made rice bread, freshly baked and with no need for toasting, at least fresh out of the package. I’m not sure how it would hold up over time, but right then it tasted pretty good. They offer:

Rice Bread
Banana-Nut Bread
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Cranberry Orange Bread

Thai Kitchen, Mr. Krispers, and SoyJoy all had tables with free samples. The Thai Kitchen noodles available weren’t my favorite (I like Onion or Garlic), so I didn’t take any. Mr. Krispers baked rice crisps were ok, but not really the kind of thing I go for either. And Soyjoy- well, I took some, but when I tried them later I regretted it. Basically think 1960s health food- bad texture, bad flavor, and totally uninspiring. If I was starving on an island somewhere, maybe I’d eat one- but otherwise, it’s the kind of GF snack you open, sniff, take a bite of, and then leave in the package to get all dusty. Sometimes you have to wonder if food companies actually TASTE their product before selling it. I didn’t take a picture, but Mariposa also brought boxes of their gluten-free brownies that were promptly snapped up by everyone in the know. Man, those things are good! I saw a few old ladies stuffing them in their purses- and who can blame them! (not like any of us were remotely hungry at that point- the sheer volume of food, especially desserts, offered was ridiculous!)

cookingspree6.jpgPamela’s was also there with a huge spread of cookies and cupcakes guaranteed to send you into a sugar coma with the first bite, as well as some tasty samples of espresso-chocolate chip cookies. They aren’t quite on par with Whole Foods GF bakehouse, but you also don’t have to call them “whole paycheck cookies” either, so I guess it must balance out. Bob’s Red Mill was there, too, but didn’t have samples for tasting, to memory. All together there was a great variety of gluten-free goodies to try and enjoy. I think the highlights, for me, was getting the chance to meet people from the Celiac Bay Area Yahoo group, and of course, being able to EAT (and DRINK) every single thing there. Nothing like kicking back a Gluten-free Redbridge Beer or Hard Cider with some tasty gluten-free hot food with some gluten-free people and friends, listening to some crazy music and watching a gluten-free iron chef drama unfold… So, if the Gluten-free Cooking Spree’s coming to your town, why not pick up a ticket and see what new gluten-free goods you can try?

Note: Although I really enjoyed the event, some with multiple food intolerances had somewhat limited options, as many dishes contained dairy or some other allergen. One Celiac naturopathic doctor in line with me commented on it- “Don’t they know how many Celiacs have problems with dairy?”* While there was a little more available that was dairy free that was not immediately apparent, there were quite a few main dishes that contained dairy. Also, a bummer for the vegetarians, almost everything savory except for the vegetable plate, tapioca pizza (and dairy-free cheese quesadillas) contained non-veg ingredients. However, unless you have severe multiple allergies, it is quite unlikely that you would go hungry at this event- I’ve never seen such VOLUME of GF foods in my life. I also was a little surprised to be approached by a freelancer advertising their holistic doctor’s services- the Celiac equivalent of being propositioned by a rose vendor in Italy, I suppose. But, these peculiarities aside, I was really glad I went, and I’d love to go again next year!

*I actually thought this was a bit of a snarky comment, but ironically, it was said in front of the Organic Bistro stand, which he ignored. Must have been the microwave. haha.

**According to Vanessa Maltin, the organizer of the event, the following dishes were dairy free:
Proscuitto Salmon
The Fried Rice (unclear about the butter issue)
Pasta with Ground Turkey Marinara Sauce
and the Frozen meals: Wild Salmon, Ginger Chicken, Chicken Citron (offered by Organic Bistro)
the entire cheese plate
and many desserts (many, many desserts- if you like GF desserts, let me tell you this Is your event!)

Check out this:
Celiac Central Review
Gluten Free Guide’s to the NYC GF Cooking Spree
Glad to Be Gluten Free’s Atlanta GF Cooking Spree

Here is my previous review of Mariposa Bakery in Oakland, California.
And here are my reviews of Pamela’s GF Products

Did you attend the GF Cooking Spree This Year? Tell us about it in the comments! What did you think of the meal and GF food samples??

Didn’t make the SF Event? No worries! Attend one of the other Gluten Free Cooking Sprees taking place all over the US in 2008!

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