Savory Strawberry Pizza with Spinach, Chives, Chillies + Halloumi
As it goes every year, I’m shocked to find that early May marks the drawdown of strawberries. Blueberries come on in branch-bending bunches in the nick of time to be sure, but for as long as we can, it’s all about those fresh-picked reds.
With today’s recipe, we give them a savory turn on a #fridaynightpizza that evokes the flavors of spring.
Halloumi — a Greek (Cypriot) cheese made from goat, sheep, and occasionally cow milk — is unique for the ability to crisp and caramelize on the outside while staying warm and melty inside. Its salty tang goes a long way (so you don’t need as much) to balance mild spinach, fragrant chives, sweet berries. Thin slices of a serrano chilli pepper are bracing dots of heat, and the pretty purple chive blossoms add another pop of color + subtle hint of onion. All atop our favorite crispy thin crust.
A feast of flavors. Also of nutrients, making this a quick, inexpensive, and healthy balanced meal.
What’s in it for me?
Ripe red strawberries are sources of manganese, fiber, folate, plus potassium. One cup contains more than 150% of your daily needs for vitamin C, and because they are one of the lowest sugar fruits, this serving is only 50 calories. Strawberries are ranked in the top 20 fruits for total antioxidant capacity, particularly rich in in polyphenols.
Spinach, like other dark leafy greens, is nutritionally stacked. Despite being about 90% water, it offers a variety of antioxidant nutrients, including beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and lutein and zeaxanthin,. Spinach also provides a good amount of plant-based calcium, and is an excellent source of vitamin K*, folate, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
Each 1-ounce serving of halloumi cheese is only 90 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrate, and provides 6 grams of protein plus about 20% of your daily calcium. While each serving is 8 grams of total fat, nearly half (about 3.5 g) of those are unsaturated fats. Halloumi is, however, fairly high in sodium — roughly 25% of the recommended 2,500 mg/day limit (or roughly 40% if you have HTN or heart issues and are limited to 1,500 mg/day).
Chives impart a mild, almost sweet onion-y flavor, plus antioxidant vitamins A and C. Chives are also a source of the mineral sulfur, which is required to synthesize the glutathione — a critical antioxidant in controlling inflammation and helping your immune system fight infections.
Serrano chilli peppers are low in calories, rich in vitamin C, and also contain vitamins A, B6, and K*, folate, fiber and potassium. Capsaicin, a bio-active compound and the ingredient that gives chilli peppers their “heat,” stimulates release of endorphins to naturally fight stress and pain.
So glad we squirreled away unused shnibbles from Greek Easter, and had the April berry haul + our homegrown chives to make this pie possible. Each bite a fresh and vibrant contrast in textures, colors, and sweet-salty-tangy-spicy-caramelized flavors. Eat the rainbow never tasted this good.
Tell me… Would you put fruit on a savory pizza?
- 1 ball of homemade or a favorite store-bought pizza dough, brought to room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes (see HGN Notes)
- 1/2 to 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to brush onto dough
- 2 big handfuls spinach leaves, washed and dried well
- 1 cup strawberries, leafy tops removed and sliced
- 1 small serrano chilli pepper, stemmed and thinly sliced (de-seed to remove some of the heat, if desired)
- 2 oz Halloumi cheese (see HGN Notes)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, plus a few of the purple flower to garnish, if desired
- Crushed dried hot red pepper flakes, to serve
- Preheat the oven to its highest temperature (for us that's 550°F). Position the racks onto the highest and lowest shelves, and if you have a baking stone, set it on the lowest rack now to preheat. If you have a pizza peel, sprinkle over a light layer of coarse semolina, cornmeal, or even a bit of flour; set aside. (The back of a large baking tray dusted in the same manner works as a decent stand-in for a peel.)
- On a lightly floured surface (I use a large piece of wax paper) roll or stretch the pizza dough into a 12-inch round. If using a baking stone, transfer the dough to your lightly dusted pizza peel. Without a stone, transfer the rolled dough to a large dusted baking tray that the pizza will bake directly on.
- Using a pastry or silicone brush, evenly cover the base of the dough with the extra virgin olive oil. Scatter over the spinach leaves, followed by the sliced strawberries and sliced serrano, then crumble the Halloumi over top.
- Carefully transfer the pizza to the top of your preheated stone with the pizza peel, OR place the pizza in its baking tray on the lowest rack of the oven. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are browned, and both the strawberries and Halloumi are beginning to caramelize. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle over the chopped chives and, if using, the chive blossoms. Slice, and serve immediately with hot red pepper flakes on the table.
Halloumi is becoming more mainstream, but may not be available in all markets. Best bets are Mediterranean or Middle Eastern markets and larger chain stores. If you can't find it, you can achieve similar results with Indian paneer or Scandinavian bread cheeses.
If your oven only goes up to 500° F, the total cook time will be closer to 10 or 12 minutes, but keep an eye on it.
+ Use crumbled feta, goat cheese, or even blue cheese in place of the Halloumi. If you're vegan, try tossing firm tofu crumbles with a bit of nutritional yeast as a substitute.
+ Go for scallions in place of the chives, and arugula, kale, chard, collards or even ruffly Napa cabbage in lieu of spinach.
+ Try different berries, like raspberries, blackberries or blueberries; or go for entirely different fruit altogether, such as peaches, apple, pear or plum.
+ No serrano? Use milder jalapeño, or spicier fresh cayenne or Thai bird chilli (red or green) in its place; or sprinkle over a few dried hot red chilli flakes.
+ Really bump up the flavor with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar over top after the pizza comes out of the oven.
A Heather Goesch Nutrition original.
*The recommendations for those on blood-thinners, such as Coumadin (or generic warfarin), is to be consistent with the amount of vitamin K eaten from day to day, as the two interact with one another. If you take any of these types of medications, be aware of the high vitamin K content found in peas, parsley, spinach and other leafy greens.
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