Carmelized Fennel, Beet and Orange Pizza, Gluten Free

by Jenn on March 22, 2010

in Gluten Free,Pastas and Grains,Vegetarian


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.


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.


Adapted from my adaption of my adaption of my adaption of a gluten free pita bread recipe by Gluten Free Gobsmacked.

For the pizza crust:
2 tsp. yeast
1/2 c. warm water + plus a couple tbs. more
2 tbsp. sugar
1 egg, beaten quickly with a fork
2/3 c. amaranth (or quinoa) flour
1/3 c. buckwheat flour
1/3 c. rice flour
1/3 c. potato starch
1 tsp. gelatin
½ cup almond meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil
LOTS MORE olive oil
For the toppings:
1 beet, cooked and diced
1 blood orange, sliced
1 bulb fennel, sliced
2 tbs brown sugar
4 oz. garlic & herb goat cheese
2 cups spinach
juice of one half lemon
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
EVEN MORE olive oil

1. Combine yeast, 1/2 c. warm water and sugar in a bowl and stir to dissolve.  Cover with a towel until doubled in size.
2. Combine the dry ingredients for the pizza dough together.  Then add in egg, yeasty water, and olive oil, and mix til it comes together.  Add in more water as needed until you get a nice sticky mess.
3. Let dough proof for an hour, covered with a damp towel in a warm area.
4. Once proofed, liberally rub olive oil onto your pizza surface and using well oiled hands, shape and spread out pizza dough onto surface til about 1/4? thick.  I have not tried this on a stone yet, but used a black jelly roll pan that worked great.  Let rise about 30 more minutes in a warm place.
5. While rising, make the spinach pesto.  Add spinach, lemon, pine nuts and garlic to a food processor and pulse til homogenized.  Then gradually add in olive oil until the consistency is “spreadable”.  At this point also preheat your oven to about 425F.
6. Saute fennel in olive oil on a med.-high heat until softened, and then add in brown sugar – stir every few minutes until brown sugar is well coated over all the fennel.
8. Use a spatula to spread the pesto evenly over the entire pizza, all the way out to the edge of the crust.  Add on the rest of the toppings (beets, fennel, orange) and finally the cheese. Bake for about 20-25 min, depending on how much toppings you ended up putting on and how thick your crust ended up being.  Pizza is done when bottom of the crust browns.  If cheese is not browned yet, at this point turn on the broiler for about a minute or so until the cheese starts to brown.  Take out of the oven, serve and enjoy!


Also submitted to – Gluten Free Wednesdays