Christina Clark 40 min. 10-15 min.

I love pizza! Fortunately, pizza is one of the easiest foods to make vegetarian – just leave off the meat! Pizza tends to get a bad rap for being  junk food, and for good reason – the white dough, loaded-with-tons-of-cheese-and-greasy-pepperoni-and-sausage variety is anything but good for you. However, with a whole wheat crust, a moderate amount of cheese, and lots of vegetables on top, pizza becomes a healthy, delicious family meal!

The challenge with pizza, if you leave out the meat, is to include enough protein. This pizza addresses that problem with black beans. Although beans are not a very suitable topping for a standard red sauce-and-mozzarella pizza, they work great on this barbecue pizza.

The barbecue sauce you choose will also make a big difference in how this pizza tastes. My personal favorite BBQ sauce is Sweet Baby Ray’s (sooo delicious!), however I have a hard time recommending it because it has so much high fructose corn syrup in it! I try to avoid that, but I have yet to find a barbecue sauce I love without it. Any recommendations? I have had success making my own, but sometimes it’s not worth my time – especially when I have a household of people hankering for pizza! Anyway, just use whatever barbecue sauce suits your fancy, and load it up with awesomeness!

Now. Let’s talk about the dough. I used to be afraid of baking anything with yeast, or anything that required kneading. If you feel this way, I challenge you to make your own dough! You will be so proud of yourself, and the whole wheat flour makes it so hearty and yummy! It really is not as scary as you think. To knead, simply fold the dough over itself and smash it down with the palm of your hand. If you encounter a sticky area, sprinkle more flour on it to make it less sticky. When you are done, there should be no sticky parts, and it should be fairly stiff to the touch. The first time I made homemade bread, I couldn’t believe I had been so intimidated by it for so long. If I can do it, you can too!

If you simply don’t have time to make homemade pizza dough, I get that – by all means, feel free to substitute store-bought dough for a super quick meal. But someday, set aside the time to make the dough yourself and you will be glad you did!

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Barbecue Pizza

Modified from Beth Moncel’s BBQ Black Bean Pizzas
Makes one 14″ pizza (can be easily doubled or quadrupled)

Crust

1/2 cup +2 tbsp warm water
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2-2 cups flour (I use 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour)

Toppings

2/3 cup barbecue sauce
3 oz Monterey jack cheese, grated
1/4 cup sliced olives
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup black beans
1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
1/4 cup pineapple tidbits
1 small tomato, chopped

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Prepare some toppings.

Add sugar, salt, and 1 cup flour. If you are using whole wheat flour, make sure to add this first, as it is harder to incorporate when you are kneading. Mix to form the dough. Add the remaining flour and knead the dough on a floured surface (I just do it on the counter top) until it is no longer sticky, about 3-5 minutes. It should be fairly stiff. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

While you are waiting, preheat the oven to 375. Then prepare the remaining toppings.

Brush a little olive oil onto a pizza pan or stone, then sprinkle with cornmeal. Stretch the dough until flat-ish, then roll into a circle on the pan.  Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Prepare some more toppings. Top the pizza with sauce, cheese, beans, and vegetables, then bake for 10 minutes. Check it, and if it’s not done, bake an additional 3-5 minutes.

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