Lighten Up: Spinach and Ricotta "Sauced" Whole Wheat Pizza

Dear, sweet pizza.  How amazing you are.  No longer a lazy little default of generic and flavorless tomato sauce, over-cheesed resting on a limp paper grease slicked paper plate.  No, my friend, you're better than that.  You're a vehicle for artisan toppings and vibrantly fresh sliced meats and vegetables resting comfortably on top of hearty whole wheat crusts and crispy cracker thin beds.  You've come a long way baby and I couldn't be more delighted that you have.

Spinach and Mushroom Whole Wheat Pizza
Pizza to me is a magical cure-all for what's for dinner and I'm constantly pointing to pizza as a great way to use up leftover bits of this week's meals.  It's also a fantastic way to use something that you're not familiar with.  I have a friend that is part of a CSA program and like clockwork, I get an email, text and sometimes even a Facebook comment question that goes like this: "Hey! I just got (insert name of un-mainstreamed vegetable here) and I have no idea what to do with it...any ideas?"  My response is pretty similar.  "Put it on pizza".

Taking my own advice, I took a step back from a traditional tomato based pizza and made a white Spinach and Mushroom pizza.  I've been making this pizza for year and it's one of my favorites.  It's also one of those pizzas that can trick your mind into thinking that you're eating something extravagant and calorie laden when it's actually a fairly light meal when you use fat free ricotta.

Wait.  Let me break for a minute and explain the role of fat free ricotta here.  I would NEVER in a million years suggest the use of fat free cheese.  It usually goes against my moral beliefs but in this case, it's completely different.  While you could use the full fat version for a much more decadent pizza (yum), I think that the fat free works just fine because it's not meant to be the star of the show, just a supporting role as a thick sauce.  Plus, it's kinda nice saving some calories for something a little more rich when you can.

Spinach Ricotta "Sauce"
Getting back to the pizza, the best part about it all is how all of the flavors work together in perfect harmony.  A creamy cheesy base spiked with fresh chopped spinach (which doesn't wilt much when tucked into the cheese, a quality I really like because it provides another texture dimension).  When topped with fried mushrooms and melted mozzarella cheese, this pizza is a must make for a busy weeknight.


Spinach and Mushroom Whole Wheat Pizza

- 1 store bought whole wheat crust, stored in a warm location until the dough rises and doubles in size
- 1 small container of fat free ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 cloves of garlic made into garlic paste
- 1/2 bag of spinach, chopped
- 1 carton of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced and fried
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh shaved Parmesan cheese
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Cornmeal for dusting

Start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees (if you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven right before you turn it on.  If you don't have a pizza stone go out now and get one.  It will change your life, I swear).  In a large bowl, carefully combine the ricotta and spinach, making sure not to stir to vigorously and damage the leaves.  Add the milk, garlic paste and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Roll out the pizza dough on top of some cornmeal to avoid sticking and spread the spinach/ricotta mixture evenly over the dough.  Top with mushrooms and then the cheeses.  Add a drizzle of olive oil and a couple pinches of salt and pepper.  Dust some cornmeal onto the pizza stone and carefully transfer the pizza to the hot stone.  (If you're against pizza stones, you can just make this in a regular pizza pan).  Bake until the cheese starts to get golden brown spots on it.  Serve immediately.


Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

I love white pizzas and this one looks great!

Wicked Domestic said...

This looks awesome. Is it bad that it's 8:43 am and I want this pizza? Haha.

Jen said...

Looks great, even for pizza. Have I told you I'm not a pizza fan? I blame it on the lactose intolerance.

Elizabeth said...

I am a huge ricotta fan so I go gaga over any pizza with ricotta on it. Mushroom and spinach are perfect companions. Wish I could have seen you for longer last night!

suzanne said...

Your pizza looks & sounds delicious! I must admit, I don't have a pizza stone. Nor have I ever been to one of those parties (the name escapes me and I know I must be the only one alive who's never been) where one can purchase a pizza stone. I know it's a must have and perhaps if I get one I won't hear any "complaints" about my homemade pizzas!

Pampered Chef!!! It came to me : )

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

I love changing up the pizza routine and this is a perfect way to do it. Good tips on the fat free ricotta :)

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I love white pizza and actually prefer it over regular tomato sauce pizza. Great recipe!

aimee said...

pure heaven. love the whole wheat crust. love the spinach and mushrooms. i never want to live in a world without pizza!!

Boston Food Diary said...

Yummmmm I heart ricotta on pizzas...delicious!

Sarah @ Semi-Sweet said...

Looks super - and the health nut in me loves the whole wheat crust . . . but fat free ricotta? I'm not sold - how 'bout we compromise and do part-skim?? : )

Anonymous said...

This looks so good! I want to make it for dinner tonight.

Lizzy said...

Love white, sweet non traditional pizzas. This looks delicious. Award winning combo!

Susan said...

That looks amazing! We always use our leftovers for pizza too. We've really made a habit of it on Friday nights.

Alicia said...

Great idea! I never would have thought to use ricotta as the sauce. I love making creative pizza's. It's a great receptacle for leftovers!

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