Craving pizza but not the takeout price tag or the gluten? Try out Pepperoni Pizza Quinoa Bake for a healthy twist on an old favorite!
Resist the urge for takeout or delivery with this healthier pepperoni pizza-inspired dish
There’s just something about pizza that’s so irresistible. No secrets here, I love pizza. Especially pepperoni pizza.
But for years (err, decades) I told myself that I didn’t like pepperoni or even pizza, for that matter. Looking back I realize that my ‘dislike’ of pepperoni pizza was really just a lie that I’d been telling myself to make it easier to so ‘No’ to a food that was never on my diet of choice. Having grown up and gone to college at the height of the low-fat-everything craze I had a serious fear of fat and that grease that would pool atop a perfectly baked pizza was something akin to napalm for this fat-phobic gal. Even
smashing it between blotting it with a paper napkin wasn’t enough to justify it being a choice that wasn’t going to make me instantly gain 15 pounds.
Sad, right? Nowadays, thanks to having found my food freedom, I can enjoy a slice or two of pizza with toppings galore without a shred of guilt. But only when it’s worth it because I don’t feel awesome after eating pizza.
So it’s this physical love-hate (not mental or emotional because…food freedom, baby) that led me to create this Pepperoni Pizza Quinoa Bake. It has all the flavors of my favorite pizza but without gluten and with more veggies and more fiber. A win-win for sure if you’re a pizza lover like me.Craving pizza? Try this healthier #glutenfree swap... Pepperoni Pizza Quinoa Bake #realfood Click To Tweet
Make it a Make-Ahead Meal
You know what else I love about this Pepperoni Pizza Quinoa Bake? It’s perfect for meal preps because you can use this dish to your advantage in one of two ways:
- Make it and bake it then store in a covered container in the fridge once it has cooled (or individual glass meal prep containers if you’ll be taking it for lunch) then just reheat & eat later in the week, or
- Assemble the dish in an oven-proof baking dish with lid then store in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you need an easy, no-fuss meal during the week you can just pop it in a preheated oven and let it bake while you take care of other things or make a salad.
I also love that this Pepperoni Pizza Quinoa Bake is kid-friendly.
Make it your own
Speaking of kids, if your kids don’t share your affinity for pepperoni then don’t throw the baby out with the bath water just yet. Get creative and find a way to compromise. I feel like I’m the Queen of Culinary Compromise most days having one child with a varied and somewhat adventurous palate and another with a very limited palate (<<I blame her genetics for being a ‘super taster’ not her). So what I often do is make this dish half pepperoni-half mild Italian sausage by setting aside half of the quinoa-veggie-sauce mixture to add sausage to before spooning it into the baking dish. Then I dot the top of the sausage side with a few pieces of sausage so it’s clear which side is which because, believe me, if you’ve ever suffered the dramatic wrath of a hungry, pepperoni-hating preteen who mistakenly dug into the wrong side of the dish you’d do the same.
Other ways you can make this dish your own or customize it to your family’s tastes are to use the veggies you have on hand or those you know they really like. Mushrooms, eggplant and spinach are all delicious in this dish and an easy way to add more veggies. Got leftover cauliflower rice or steamed broccoli on hand? Toss that in there, too! That’s another great way to stretch your grocery buck, boost the nutrition and decrease food waste.
Serve with a giant green salad or a side of sautéed greens or roasted green beans to round out the meal. And parmesan cheese. Don’t forget the parmesan cheese for your sprinkling pleasure.
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained (we used Tiny Hero Quinoa*)
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 1 large zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch ‘half-moons”
- 1 medium bell pepper, any color, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. onion powder
- 2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
- ½ c. warm water
- ½ tsp. salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 ounces turkey pepperoni slices, cut into fourths
- Fresh basil, optional
- Fresh grated parmesan cheese, optional
- Red pepper flakes, optional
* Note – If using Tiny Hero Quinoa, cooking directions differ slightly from regular quinoa so you’ll want to cook it according to the package directions instead of those in Step 2 below.
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease a small casserole dish or 9×9-inch glass baking dish with oil and set aside.
- Place quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cool running water for 30-60 seconds. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add 2 cups water or broth. Bring to a coil then cover pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow quinoa to cook, covered, for 15 minutes or liquid is absorbed. Let stand covered for 5 minutes then fluff with fork.
- While quinoa is cooking, place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil. When oil just begins to shimmer, add onions and peppers. Saute for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions starts to soften. Add zucchini and garlic. Continue to cook an additional 7-8 minutes or until veggies are tender.
- While veggies are cooking, combine ingredients for sauce: tomato paste through black pepper, including the 2 Tbsp. of remaining olive oil. Stir until well combined, taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Add quinoa, sauce, pepperoni and ¾ cup mozzarella cheese to the veggies in the skillet, reserving a few pepperoni slices for the top.
- Transfer to a 9×9-inch baking dish (or leave it in the skillet if you’re using cast iron!)
- Sprinkle top of casserole with remaining ¼ cup mozzarella cheese and reserved pepperoni slices.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until hot throughout and cheese is bubbly on top. Garnish with fresh basil, if desired.
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- Serving Size: 1/5th recipe
- Calories: 348
- Sugar: 6g
- Sodium: 651mg
- Fat: 17g
- Carbohydrates: 36g
- Fiber: 7g
- Protein: 17g
Tell us – what are your favorite pizza toppings? Did you make this dish? If so, how did you ‘make it your own’?
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