This red lentil pizza crust is crispy on the edges, firm but tender in the center, and hearty enough to hold a lot of toppings. Since it’s made entirely from red lentils, it’s also naturally gluten-free, low in carbs, and high in fiber and protein. The best part? It doesn’t require any rolling.
I don’t know about yours, but my family LOVES pizza, Tanner (my husband) especially! I have actually never seen anyone like pizza as much as this guy. Sometimes I wonder if he would be happy if all he had was pizza (and mac & cheese) for the rest of his life. As Tanner says, if he’s having pizza twice a day, it’s a good day.
When I first met Tanner, he would eat pizza for lunch and dinner. At that time we were both attending university and had pre-paid meals at the university culinary center. I pretty much lived on salads (because I found all the cooked meals very unappealing) and Tanner lived on pizza.
When we finished university and moved out of the dorm, I started cooking my own meals and Tanner started buying frozen pizza. The kind that sells for less than $3 and has many ingredients you can’t even pronounce. Obviously, not the best choice. So, I bought a pizza stone, a pizza peel, and delved into pizza making so Tanner could enjoy a healthier pizza. Well, to this day, Tanner says that my pizza is the reason he married me, haha.
So, here is a pizza recipe that is on a regular rotation in our house now. It’s not the same recipe that won Tanner’s heart, but it’s delicious nonetheless. (In case you’re wondering, yes, Tanner does devour the whole pizza every time I make it).
Tips for Making Red Lentil Pizza Crust
Red lentils make the perfect base for this vegan and gluten-free pizza. The cuisines of India, Algeria, France, Italy and most of the countries that border on the Mediterranean all have their own special versions of bean bread – socca in France, farinata in Italy, and besan roti in India to name a few. While bean bread is traditionally made with chickpea flour, it doesn’t really matter what type of legume you use. So for this recipe, I am using red lentils.
The texture of the final lentil pizza crust is a cross between a crispy pizza and a semi-thick bread. It’s wonderfully soft in the center, with a lightly crisp and brown exterior. Like the best of foods, this red lentil pizza crust is wonderfully simple to prepare. It contains only a handful of uncomplicated ingredients: red lentils, baking powder, salt, and water.
The baking powder helps the pizza crust to rise (just like regular pizza crust does) so don’t omit it.
A little bit of salt, some of your favorite herbs (I recommend using Italian herbs), and voila – you’ve got red lentil pizza crust.
The most time-consuming part of this recipe is soaking the lentils. Red lentils, like all nuts and seeds, grains and pulses, contain food phytate. Food phytate can bind minerals, and prevent their full absorption. And, red lentils, like other pulses, can be difficult to digest. The process of soaking can help to not only make the minerals they do contain more bioavailable, but that process also renders the bean easier to digest. More importantly, soaking the red lentils overnight also gives the final pizza crust a wonderful, faint, tartness that complements the naturally earthy, nutty flavor of the red lentils.
I have tried making this crust with unsoaked (dry) lentils and it works. However, the crust has a darker color (soaking diminishes the red color) and tends to crack (because unsoaked lentils will begin to absorb water and expand during the baking process). So whenever possible, soak the lentils for at least 4 hours before blending.
Soaking the lentils ahead of time also saves you time later. If you’ve ever made traditional socca bread from chickpea flour, you probably know that the batter needs to rest before cooking. The reason is hydration – chickpea flour needs more time to hydrate than say all-purpose flour. Since red lentils are already hydrated from the soaking, there is no need to let the batter rest before cooking.
Since I baked the pizza in a cast iron pan, I oiled the pan first to make sure the pizza crust doesn’t stick. If you’re using non-stick cookware or a silicone mat, feel free to skip the oil. If you’re using anything other than cast iron, non-stick or a silicone mat, line your dish with parchment paper to prevent the crust from sticking.
Also, while bean bread is traditionally cooked over a fire, a broiler or oven can work nicely instead.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Blender (Vitamix) | 2. Pan (12-Inch, Lodge, Cast Iron) | 3. Cookware Set (Calphalon, Stainless Steel) | 4. Mixing Bowls (Set of 3, Pyrex, Glass) | 5. Mesh Strainers (Set of 3, Cuisinart, Stainless Steel) | 6. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 7. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 8. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Stainless Steel) | 9. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel) | 10. Turner (5-Inch, Stainless Steel)
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