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Savoring the Southwest: Santa Fe Vegetarian Pizza

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** Savoring the Southwest is a new cooking/food column from internationally acclaimed chef and bestselling cookbook author, Larry Edwards. In this Examiner exclusive series, the chef will take you through the wonders of Southwest cooking and food. Along with each of the dishes the chef will present, there will also be a how-to slideshow. Learn the art of Southwest cooking and enjoy every delicious bite! **

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Have you ever taken a huge bite of pizza and then relish all the flavors which were taking over your mouth. There is something about a perfectly constructed pizza which takes eating to an entire new platform. And yes, a proper pizza is constructed and not just slopped together.

Let's get a misconception of pizza out of the way. Pizza is not "junk" food. A homemade or professionally artisan pizza is actually quite nutritious (as long as you don't smother the damn thing with saturated fat products). The first rule of pizza is the crust. The crust should have some body to it, yet be light enough where it is not the center of attention of the pizza. For most of our pizza's at Casa de Cuisine, we use a special crust which includes cornstarch within the flour and you can see that recipe and the how-to picture slideshow here.

The second rule of pizza is that you should only use the freshest products available. This is especially true when making a vegetarian pizza. If you use produce which is old, stale or decrepit, you might as well be noshing on a piece of cardboard with ketchup spread upon it -- much like those disasters at the fast-food pizza places which pollute every town in America.

The third and possibly most important rule of pizza, is constructing it. For a true pizza, there really is no recipe (aside from the dough). You add the toppings you like in however amounts you like -- however, it must be constructed properly or the topping will not be flavorful and possibly have the texture of something made by Gerber!

For our Santa Fe Vegetarian Pizza, we'll give you what we put on it (without amounts) and then we'll tell you how to construct the pizza and then the proper way of baking the pizza. You will notice the Santa Fe Vegetarian Pizza has no sauce. Actually, very few of our pizza's have a sauce. Why, because a real pizza is not meant to have a sauce!

This recipe is for the topping of the Santa Fe Vegetarian Pizza. To make the dough (crust), click here.

Ingredients needed to make Santa Fe Vegetarian Pizza (makes 1 medium pizza):

  • Olive oil
  • Minced scallions (green onions)
  • Minced garlic
  • Minced cilantro
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Zucchini, medium sliced
  • Mushrooms, medium sliced
  • Julienne slices of sweet peppers (red, yellow and orange)

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Liberally spread some olive oil over the pizza dough.
  3. Sprinkle the scallions, garlic and cilantro over the pizza dough.
  4. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese atop.
  5. Place the zucchini on the pizza dough. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and add a little more Parmesan cheese.
  6. Place the mushrooms and sweet peppers on the pizza dough. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle on a little more Parmesan cheese.
  7. Place into the oven and bake 25 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."

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