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If there is something I think we can all agree on, it is how amazing pizza is. Whether you like your pizza loaded with a variety of toppings or kept simple with one or two toppings, pizza is one of the ultimate comfort foods. However, most of us don’t think of pizza as being healthy and nutritious, but it certainly can be. My gluten-free crust pizza topped with a homemade pesto sauce, fresh mozzarella, vine-ripened tomatoes, and salami is out-of-this-world delicious.

I know what you are probably thinking. Gluten free crust? Don’t let the words gluten-free scare you away. No, I do not have celiac’s disease but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to limit the amount of gluten I am consuming. The gluten free debate has been ongoing for some time now and while some people are skeptical of the “trend,” celiac’s disease is a real sickness. Basically, when someone with the disease consumes gluten- a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye- the immune response automatically attacks the small intestine. This leads to major physical discomfort and often times diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, weight changes, etc.

Since I’ve been living in Austin, I have learned of several eating trends and while some have substance, others can be a bit extreme. For example, there was a group staying at my place of work not long ago, and the entire group were vegan and could only eat raw vegetables. This made it pretty difficult when trying to think of what to feed these people for the duration of their stay. Obviously, we cannot offer raw carrots and celery for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is where creativity comes into play but come on, what “disease” is keeping these people from consuming anything cooked? It is obviously a lifestyle choice. Moreover, we receive orders where everything must be gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian-friendly. It can get a little tricky, but it’s also fun to cook something delicious that meets all of these dietary requests.

So, let’s get back to the pizza. I love this pizza because it is full of fresh flavor and I can actually eat it without feeling guilty afterwards. These last couple of months have been a bit challenging because I have been trying to get bathing suit ready for two upcoming trips I have planned. My strong will reached a wall when I decided I had to have pizza for dinner, but could’t sacrifice all of my hard work. I then decided on gluten free pizza, but let’s be honest, I couldn’t wait to make the dough, let it rise, punch it, roll, it, blah blah. I needed pizza asap. So, I found a pre-made, gluten free pizza crust at Whole Foods and decided to jazz up the regular Margherita version.

For this recipe you will need:

1 pre-made gluten free pizza crust, thawed
3 Tbsp pesto pizza sauce, recipe follows
1 large vine tomato, cut into 1/2″ slices
Fresh mozzarella
Thinly sliced salami
Basil, chiffonade (garnish)
Sea salt

For the pesto:

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan
3 cloves roasted garlic
t tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. To make the pesto, blend the basil, pine nuts, parmesan, and garlic together in a food processor or blender. While the mixture is blending, slowly stream in the olive oil, scraping down the sides in between. Once the pesto is relatively smooth, add the fresh lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and mix one more time.

Spread a thin layer of pesto onto the gluten-free pizza crust. Top with the tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, and sliced salami. Bake in the oven until the crust is golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and garnish with the chiffonade basil. You will be surprised to see and taste that it isn’t much different than the fattening, flour crust version! If anything, you will enjoy the fresh flavors without feeling bloated and disgusting after devouring it. Bon Appetit!

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