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Dinner tonight: Sneaky greens whole wheat pizza with turkey sausage

The nights are a bit cooler; the leaves are beginning to change color; football is about to begin. Yep! It's fall. And, with the coming of Fall, also comes back-to-school nights, homework, busy schedules, sports practices, dance practices, and parents running around as multi-tasking chauffeurs. Yet, with all of this crazy running around time, full of amazingly fun activities and opportunities, healthy dinners sometimes get left in the dust of the runaway "child drop-off" car. But, before you order that greasy spoon pizza from down the street; try this super simple, seriously fun, sneaky greens "almost" homemade pizza. Seriously, with very little planning, this can be done in 30 minutes!

Top the pizza dough with your secret sauce, healthy turkey sausage, and some low fat cheese (even a little whole milk cheese is fine) and you have a quick, healthy, and delicious week night meal. Yum!
Photo by Melissa McKechnie
Back-to-school dinner is easy with a quick and healthy home made pizza.
Photo by Melissa McKechnie

There always have been, and always will be, that constant struggle to get green, yes green, vegetables into our kids. Sure, they'll eat crunchy carrots and maybe, just maybe, some sweet sugar snap peas, but usually, that's about it for many picky eaters. Yet, by disguising said green vegetables into a pizza sauce; and, then cover said pizza sauce with a little all natural cheese, and you will be amazed at how quickly those veggies get devoured.

For this recipe I used kale (that amazing super green), chopped peppers (a variety) and some onion, but play around with adding whatever veggies you have on hand and want to get your kids to eat. The trick is to chop them very, very small, so that they disappear into the store-bought sauce. By using ready-made whole wheat pizza dough, all you need to do is let it come to room temp (you can even just keep it in the car as you drive the kids around), then roll it out. Kids love to help with rolling the dough and adding the toppings. Make any shapes that you want. Add any toppings that you want. This recipe uses a healthier version of a slightly spicy sausage (seasoned ground turkey). Have fun and throw caution to the wind (and enjoy a glass (or more) of wine while you're at it). A healthy weeknight dinner is waiting for you. Cheers!

1 package whole wheat pizza dough (for this recipe, I used Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough)
Shredded Mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup)
Shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup)
Flour for rolling

For the turkey sausage:
1/2 lb. ground turkey or ground turkey breast
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
dash cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the sneaky veggie sauce:
1 10 oz container all natural pizza sauce (for this recipe, I used Trader Joe's pizza sauce)
1/2 cup total finely chopped veggies (combination of kale, red and orange peppers, onion, or any combination)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and packaging. Place a large cutting board on top of a kitchen towel. This will help when rolling out the dough and prevent the board from slipping around the counter top. Bring the dough to room temperature (about 20 to 30 minutes). The warmer the dough, the easier it will be to roll out. You can roll it while it is still chilled, but it will require more muscle power.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Mix the ground turkey, crushed garlic, and spices together. Just use your hands to get the spices fully integrated into the meat. Set it aside while you prepare the "sneaky" sauce.
  4. For the sauce, finely chop the kale and vegetables.This way they will disappear into the pizza sauce and none will be the wiser (except you).
  5. In a small sauce pan, heat a little olive oil and sauté the vegetable mixture over medium heat until it is soft, but not brown. Add a dash of sea salt and pepper and the container of the ready-made pizza sauce. Mix well and let it simmer for about 10 minutes so the flavors fully come together.
  6. In another small saucepan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the turkey meat, breaking it up to become small ground sausage size pieces.
  7. Set both the turkey sausage and sauce aside to cool slightly.
  8. Sprinkle some flour (wheat or all purpose) onto the cutting board and rolling pin. Roll the pizza dough from the center to the edges, turning the dough as needed, until it becomes the right size and thickness for the pan. This is a great way to get the kids involved and work their muscles! Roll the dough as thin or thick as you like. If it's not a perfect circle, don't worry! It's your own creation. I've made many amoeba shaped pizzas in my kitchen! The key isn't the shape as much as an even thickness. Use the bottom of your hand and touch around the dough to test for even thickness, especially between the center and the edges.
  9. Using a paper towel spread a small amount olive oil over the surface of the baking pan (pizza pan, stone, baking sheet, etc.). Place the dough onto the pan and press it around to get as much surface covered as you can.
  10. Time to assemble! Evenly spread the sauce over the pizza. Top with the sausage and then as much cheese as you want. I keep it simple with a combination of mozzarella and cheddar, but go with whatever flavors you family prefers.
  11. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is brown and crisp. Serve with red pepper flakes and grated Parmesan and enjoy!

Pairing Note: To complete the meal, serve this pizza with a simple green salad with a vinaigrette to cut the richness of the pizza. Try this meal with a great, unpretentious, full body red wine. A couple of great bargain reds that go perfectly are Gnarly Head Authentic Red ($9) and Antinori Santa Cristina Toscana ($12). Both are rich with fruit, with a hint of spice, and dry finish. These can hold up to the many flavors in the sauce, while cutting through the richness of the cheese.

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