Even though we are definitely not vegan, we eat meat and eggs, I frequently find inspiration for recipes from vegan cookbooks, since they are dairy-free and use fresh ingredients. Although not a new book, I just discovered The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, by Donna Klein and I found a totally terrific, Prince-approved pizza recipe in it.
Most of the recipes in this book are truly elegant in their simplicity, but more geared for sophisticated adult tastes, rather than picky ASD children.
I love this book, however, for its fresh approach to cooking as well as the "Meals in Minutes" seasonal menus. Ms. Klein presents Mediterranean-influenced recipes that are naturally meat-free, egg-free, and dairy-free. I think that many of the dessert recipes, which rely on fresh fruit, could be easily converted for GFCF children's palates. The pasta, foccacia, and pizza recipes also have lots of kid-potential.
I made the Quick Tuscan-Style Pizza with White Beans, Tomatoes, and Basil. Ms. Klein provides a recipe for the pizza crust, but I used my own GFCF crust. The genius of this recipe, in my opinion, is the substitution of white bean spread for cheese. It melts in your mouth and has real "cheese" feel. The Prince loves beans anyway and he really liked this. I think I will experiment with keeping the white bean spread as the base and trying some other toppings. The Professor and I really loved this delicious recipe. I truly think it is the best "white" pizza I have ever tasted!
Quick Tuscan-Style Pizza, with White Beans, Tomatoes, and Basil
(Adapted from Donna Klein, The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen )
3 TB extra-virgin olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini, or other white beans, drained and rinsed
6 TB vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
3 or 4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 recipe GFCF pizza crust
Preheat oven to 450. In a small saucepan, heat 1 1/2 TB of oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the beans, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in half of the basil.
Brush a light coating of olive oil on the pizza crust. Spread the bean mixture over the crust. It will be a thin layer. (I think the next time I make this I may double the recipe in order to have a thicker spread.) Place the tomato slices evenly over the bean mixture, then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the top.
Bake 10-15 minutes or until the crust is crisp and the edges browned. Sprinkle with torn basil leaves and serve.
Adaptations for sensory-avoidant little ones: omit the tomato and basil. The bean spread by itself is delicious. The bean spread could also be served on crackers or possibly as a dip. You might even top it with a bit of tomato sauce, making kind of a "reverse" pizza topping, if your little one does not like fresh tomatoes yet, but likes the flavor.