Thursday, June 24, 2010

Joe's Pizza Project: South of the Border

I’m almost as addicted to food TV as I am to food itself. A few months back, our cable company temporarily dropped the Food Network. Gasp! The horror! I dragged myself to the gym just to watch it on the treadmill monitors, I was that desperate.

Although Food Network has since been reinstated, Top Chef on Bravo is definitely a favorite of mine. Are there any Top Chef fans out there? I make a point to route for the wacky and slightly obnoxious contestants each season. Spike Mendelsohn from Season 4 was pretty fabulous. On top of working in world-renowned restaurants and opening his own eateries, he contributes to a variety of other food outlets, like and Food and Wine Magazine.

I found this healthy recipe for MEXICAN PIZZA in the latest Food and Wine. It’s part nachos, part pizza and totally delicious. Pizza is the greatest after-work dinner. It comes together so quickly. My freezer is a stock pile of frozen whole wheat pizza dough from Whole Foods. If I’m looking for a quick fix dinner, pizza always fits the bill.

Instead of sauce, the Mexican pizza base is a delicious puree of black beans, roasted red peppers and spices. I was amazed at how much the puree tasted like refried beans with only a few vegetarian ingredients and very little salt. I was also surprised at how little cheese you needed to make this feel like a pizza. When I was looking at 3 ounces of grated cheese on my cutting board, I was tempted to grate more before even topping the dough with it. It just didn’t look like enough cheese. But, you really don’t need any more than that. The puree was rich enough without globs of cheese too.

The bean puree looks like a lot when you’re spreading it on the dough. I was afraid the pizza wouldn’t crisp up, so I shorted the beans. Next time, I’ll go for the whole amount. The pizza was a little dry where the beans were spread too thin. I’ll go for the gusto and follow what the Spike man says next time.

I did change up the method slightly. I abhor anything that resembles a stewed tomato. There’s something about a wet, mushy tomato where the skins are all sliding off that just gives me the skeeves. Spike recommends topping the pizza with some chopped cherry tomatoes before cooking it. To avoid the soggy tomato situation, I threw the tomatoes on for the last 5 minutes of cooking so they softened up and heated through but still held their shape; just a personal preference.

The creamy beans with salty olives and cool sour cream make for a great combination of flavors and textures. It was “mexicany” without being an over-the-top, in your face, burrito fest. I cut the pizza in 8 slices (2 per person). I have to literally wrap up the leftovers and put them in the fridge before I even sit down to eat so I’m not tempted to over-do it.

* Get cooking. Let me know what you think. Love it? Hate it? I’m interested in hearing your feedback and suggestions.


  1. I'm sorry but I abhor that photo. Maybe it's because I'm not "Mexicany" when it comes to pizza. But I don't care where you are in reference to the border, pizza is not supposed to have creamed bean paste spread on it. Blehhh.

  2. HA! Fair enough. I thought it was pretty creative and delicious, but to each their own!

  3. Well, I think it looks (and sounds) delicious. I made a similar pizza awhile ago and it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. I say too bad for the people who aren't willing to be experimental when it comes to pizza. They're missing on some delicious treats.

  4. I actually blogged this recipe yesterday. I thought it was a fantastic pizza! I've been trying to incorporate more vegetarian dinners, and this is one I know I'll be making again soon. To the person who said they abhor it, who says pizza is not supposed to be like this one? Pizza can be whatever you want it to be, that's what's so great about it!

    Having eaten at Spike's restaurant in DC several times, I was surprised at all the healthy recipes he had in that issue of Food & Wine. I definitely do not feel healthy after eating there, but it sure is tasty. :)

  5. Thanks for all of the positive feedback!