Turkish Pizza

Serves 2-3

(No gluten, dairy or tomato; with vegan options, also for yeast and sugar)

Traditionally the word ‘pizza’ isn’t used, but the Turks do a lamb and tomato sauce version called lahmacun. Instead of cheese, a yoghurt and garlic sauce is added before serving.

I enjoyed a pizza recently at a Turkish café and sought to reproduce the textures and tastes without dairy or tomato. This deliciously succeeds. Serve with a leafy green salad with beetroot, or with coleslaw. Using a thicker pizza base will be more filling. Both of the bases listed below (see also Pizza for many more options) and all other ingredients are in most supermarkets. Note that most commercial hummus has dairy. I list two that do not. Or use my easy homemade version.

If you need to minimise certain standard ingredients such as wheat or dairy, it is of psychological importance (and thus health) to serve familiar favourites. To successfully eliminate key ingredients, the tastes and textures must remain similar. Although miso has nothing to do with pizza or Turkey, it does provide the same umami* sensation that cheese does. Harissa comes in jars (I used the Culley’s brand, which has no added sugar) and is a North African and Middle Eastern red pepper paste. Although spicy, the results are mild to moderate in the overall dish. Bacon too gives salty, savoury oomph, but almost all bacon contains cane sugar, if that is an issue (Matakana brand does not). Choose a brand such as Henderson’s that is dry cured and without additives.

1 x 23 cm (9”) gluten-free pizza base, thin or thick as preferred (eg Spoilt for Choice brand; or if gluten and a little sugar are fine: some Turkish Bread)
3 Tbsp harissa*
3 Tbsp light or golden miso*
½ cup homemade Hummus, or Turkish Kitchen Hummus (Traditional, or Kumara Lentil)
4 small mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
75 grams (about 2 small slices) finely chopped bacon, or seasoned lamb mince, or chopped meat/vegetarian sausage

Place the pizza base on an oven tray. Combine the harissa and miso. Spread onto the base. With a spoon dollop on the hummus – no need to spread it. In order add the mushrooms, red onion and bacon or option. Bake at 200°C Fan Grill or 220° Bake (400°F Fan Grill or 450°F Bake) for 10-15 minutes until meat is cooked. Slice and serve.

Shopping and Preparation Tips*

• Harissa: North African and Middle Eastern spicy, red seasoning paste. Usually made from red pepper, chilli, vinegar, spices, salt and olive oil. In jars in supermarket seasoning or gourmet section.

• Miso: this ancient soybean and rice paste looks and tastes something like vegemite. Use it as a spread, or flavouring to stock, soup or sauce. There are many varieties from pale and delicate to dark and gutsy. As a lengthily fermented food, miso can help increase good guy bacteria in the gut and keep the pathogen population down. To gain this benefit, add miso to hot but not boiling liquid, such as at the end of the cooking. Mixing it with a little hot liquid before adding it to the pot will prevent lumps. A good mild, golden NZ brand from local organic soybeans is Urban Hippie (from health stores).

• Umami: a Japanese word for one of the 5 core tastes specifically registered by taste buds: a savoury flavour associated with the amino acid glutamate, whether naturally in food (high in meat stock, oily fish, aged cheese such as parmesan, mushrooms, seaweed, savoury yeast, miso, soy sauce) or in artificial forms such as MSG. The other 4 tastes are sweet, salty, bitter and sour.

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