Carmelized Fennel, Beet and Orange Pizza, Gluten Free

by Jenn on March 22, 2010

in Gluten Free,Pastas and Grains,Vegetarian

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Pizza dough is an awesome vehicle for enjoying whatever flavors you like.  You are not beholden to marinara sauce, or even mozzarella cheese!  Past pizzas I’ve made have included some less traditional flavors, like my Spanish pizza, or chicken apricot & brie.  Beets, fennel, and orange are a common combination in many a Winter salad, so i thought it might be fun to try on a pizza!

Fennel is one of those vegetables I really need to use more of – it’s funny that I cannot stand licorice, but I love fennel.  I think the flavor is more subtle in fennel, especially when it has been roasted or cooked.  I decided here to caramelize it a bit with brown sugar just to sweeten it a bit and mellow the flavor out.  The overall blend?  Quite nice – I’ve been on a thing lately really trying to see how to contrast sweet & savory flavors together, and I think this pizza is a good marriage of different taste qualities – while the fennel, orange, and deep earthy beets are slightly sweet, the spinach pesto and garlic herbed goat-cheese at first would seem like a very disjointed set to try to blend with them – but in fact each taste is quite distinguishable and still a pleasant combination in the mouth – I love finding flavors that work so well together!  It’s like discovering a unique treasure every time.

_PAG4598pizza

This pizza is my submission for this month’s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free hosted by Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.  Her theme was guiltless pleasures.  This was actually probably one of the hardest themes for me to create something for, and I’m still not sure this pizza fits the bill.  But I’m submitting it anyways.  I find that everyone’s definition of healthy is so different and varied that I could not possibly create something “guiltless” and a “pleasure” for everyone.  So many people take issue with carbs, or fat, or calories, to cut out every single one of those things would be a challenge indeed.  Personally, I’m not really sure substituting out naturally indulgent ingredients is always the way to go.  If something calls for bacon fat and butter, it’s going to be pretty darned delicious and any healthier substitutions are not going to have the same satisfaction.  I would much rather instead eat a fully indulgent food and just control my intake through portion size.  It keeps the ingredients simpler and brings a comfort that only certain flavors can bring.  But because of this outlook, I cannot rightfully call anything I have ever made guiltless.  I keep myself guiltless through portion control/calorie counting, and as long as I understand a concept of size and make sure to eat a diet full of lots of great fresh whole ingredients, I do well for myself.  Such a philosophy cannot work for everybody, but I am sure most people like to eat flavorful food made from fresh ingredients, which is the main focus of eating this very unique pizza.

I created this pizza to highlight the bright flavor of some oft-forgotten veggies – this pizza was a great dish, not just because it contains healthy veggies and fruit, but because the flavors were rich and bright without weighing too heavily on the stomach.  Perfect for the days when the sun starts to shine again and you get that little kid giggly feeling in your stomach where the excitement rushes through your body like a wave of energy – you just want to run around with the wind caressing your face and you haven’t a care in the world, even if it lasts just a brief moment until the sun shyly hides back behind a safe and secure cloud.

Also submitted to – Gluten Free Wednesdays

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Iris March 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I agree that everyone’s definition of guiltless is different. Mine is somewhat more like yours. I’d rather have something higher calorie with more nutrients than something low calorie with very little nutrient value. I also love pizzas with different toppings. I have to go check out that brie pizza you mentioned! In Buenos Aires, I used to love their ricotta and fruit pizzas. Definitely going to try to make one of those.

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Jenn March 27, 2010 at 8:44 am

Oh ricotta and fruit sounds just lovely – I have not made dessert pizzas yet, perhaps I should!

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Valérie March 23, 2010 at 4:33 pm

I love how summery this pizza is!

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Jenn March 27, 2010 at 8:44 am

Thanks! It’s indeed interesting how common ingredients in a Winter salad can convey a feeling of Summer!

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Wendy March 24, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I love trying nontraditional toppings on my pizzas, my husband, not so much.
So we make two pizzas! : ) I also agree with you and Iris, I’d much rather have a little more calories and more nutrients, than something low in calories that’s just filler.

Your blog is beautiful, I haven’t been here before, I will have to come back soon.

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Jenn March 27, 2010 at 8:45 am

Ha 2 pizzas is the perfect solution! Luckily my husband is open to trying all of my crazy ideas about food, but 2 choices is a good idea anyways!

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Brent March 25, 2010 at 5:26 am

I wonder if this is the magic recipe to finally get me to like beets. We have tried every way, I just think I don’t like the earthy taste, but other than that this looks like a keeper!

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Jenn March 27, 2010 at 8:47 am

I think people either love or hate beets – I never ate them growing up so I had no preconceived ideas about them when I first tried them, and for me it was definitely love :)

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Kim March 26, 2010 at 12:24 am

This looks sooooooo good. I adore roasty toasty fennel! As always, your recipe looks AMAZING.

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Jenn March 27, 2010 at 8:48 am

Aww thanks! You are so sweet. I actually did not roast this fennel (though that is a great way too), because I wanted to saute it with sugar and sweeten it up a bit – either way fennel is certainly tasty though!

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Linda March 26, 2010 at 1:47 am

I agree with Iris on the guiltless definition. I really should branch out on pizza toppings, but I don’t know how the family would respond. Yours looks so colorful!

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Jenn March 27, 2010 at 8:51 am

Thanks! I love eating bright colorful food, it totally brightens my mood as well – I would start with something a little closer to traditional, like this Spanish-inspired pizza where the substitutions are pretty straight forward – chorizo instead of pepperoni, manchego instead of mozz, etc. – it still looks “normal” but in fact has very different flavors. Another good pizza idea to try for your fam is a taco pizza – use salsa for the sauce, and then put on your favorite taco toppings (tomatoes, meat of choice, avocado slices, cheddar cheese, green chiles etc.)!

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Lucy March 26, 2010 at 10:08 am

Fennel is just coming out here. What great ideas you have here. Your photos are fabulous. Thanks for this post.

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Jenn March 27, 2010 at 8:56 am

Thank you!

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Tracee March 31, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Wow, let the pizza crust be your canvas! Very lovely!

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Chelsey April 1, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Jenn Your photos are amazing. I can see your creativity breathed into each picture and word, absolutely beautiful! It’s funny to see your recipe adapted 500 times. After two adaptations I’m sure it’s safe to claim the recipe as your own!

This pizza has a delightful combination of flavors. If you took all the indulgence out there wouldn’t be anything fun left to eat, I totally agree.

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Shirley @ gfe April 2, 2010 at 5:18 am

I think this qualifies. It looks super healthy to me, and guiltless. You’re not going to eat all of it in one seating after all. ;-)

Shirley

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Stacy (Little Blue Hen) April 2, 2010 at 7:19 pm

What a great combo! I’ve tried it with raw fennel in a salad, but I’m just not a big raw veggie fan. Caramelized fennel works though! I also tried to get my hubby to eat beets on pizza mixed with more traditional toppings, but this might work better with the citrus to balance the earthiness of the beets.

When you say “cooked beets” did you roast them or boil them?

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Jenn April 2, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Yes, the fennel has a much more subtle flavor when cooked, it’s definitely worth trying if you’ve only had it raw before…As far as the beets, I roasted them in the oven before putting them on the pizza, but I think you could really cook them any way you like

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