I had a dream about pizza last night. A thin, crispy crusted pizza slathered with rich, gooey cheese all mixed with creamy sauce. It had all the right flavors and textures. And I couldn’t gobble up enough of it. In my dream.
That’s because pizza is just the best. It’s so wonderful, that it even tastes good cold. Like, straight from the fridge cold. And it is one of the foods that people miss most when going on a low-sodium diet. Not just for its flavors and cheese. But for the comfort. And the convenience.
The good news is that several low-so pizza options exist — since a slice or two of the classic stuff will land you easily around 1,000mg of sodium or more, depending on your topping choices.
First up, you can always make your own pizza dough and pizza sauce from scratch. It’s not that difficult, you simply need time and to plan ahead. As for the sauce, go ahead and “cut corners” by using no-salt added canned tomatoes or even canned, pureed butternut squash. Then spice and alter on your own, to taste. As for toppings, stick with the traditional by browning some ground pork, sautéing mushrooms and onions, and throwing on a little arugula and parsley for color. Or dare to be different with a BBQ-type sauce, shredded chicken, pineapple, and thinly sliced zucchini. Build according to your pizza dreams and then bake.
As for option two, and my favorite low-so pizza swap, there is always Socca Pizza. And if you haven’t tried it yet, your life is about to change.
Socca is as a crispy, savory pancake made from chickpea flour and water that fries in a little oil, in a pan and then finishes baking in the oven. It takes just a little over 10 MINUTES to make and you can top it and eat it just like a pizza. It also happens to be gluten-free, which is a real plus when entertaining others with dietary needs.
It also happens to be very versatile. Leave socca plain and use it like crackers for appetizers, like croutons for a panzanella salad, or cut into slabs like sandwich bread for a wheat-free lunch. And be sure to make a big batch to accompany soups and curries. And then use those socca squares to soak up all those good juices and flavors, instead of a crusty sourdough baguette or naan.
But back to pizza. You can dress socca crust with the usual suspects. Or spread the top with homemade pesto, pea chimichurri, or cauliflower “ricotta” instead — really, whatever you have on hand. Then use what’s in season for your toppings, like fresh peas, cherry tomatoes, and herbs. And don’t be afraid to go bold with fruit, too. Peach and zucchini would be delicious. You can keep it diary free or sprinkle and dollop on some low-sodium ricotta, yogurt, or even swiss cheese. Like any pizza, your options are endless. And since socca pizza is so easy, you can make multiple versions in one night. Or even make several socca crusts ahead of time for your guests and host a Build Your Own Chickpea Pizza bar.
So the next time pizza cravings strike, grab that chickpea flour instead of the delivery number. Get mixing. And make those pizza dreams come true.
LOW-SO SOCCA PIZZA CRUST
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1/2 to 1 cup warm water
- 1/4 tsp salt-free garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp dried dill
- Freshly cracker black pepper
- 2 tsp olive or vegetable oil
In a medium mixing bowl, combine chickpea flour, water, garlic powder, dill, and black pepper until it forms a smooth, pancake batter-like consistency. Let it rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add the oil to a 10-inch, oven-safe pan. Swirl the pan to make sure it is coated evenly. And then use a spatula to spoon the chickpea batter into the pan. Work quickly with your spatula to spread the batter evenly around the pan to the edges until you have a round shape. Let it cook in the oil, on the stovetop, until the edges begin to brown and crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Then place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and cook under the broiler until the chickpea batter hardens and turns golden brown in color, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Using an oven mitt, remove the pan from the oven and let the socca crust cool before slicing it. OR if using the socca for pizza, slather on your sauce or spread, as well as your toppings. Then return the pan to the oven until the toppings are warmed through, a final 5 minutes or so. Use an angled spatula to remove the socca from the pan. Slice and serve.