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What is root-to-stem and what is it doing on your pizza?

10 crazy pizza toppings by Belforno

The average American bins 25% of all the food they buy. That’s a lot of waste! The root-to-stem movement follows closely on the heels of the nose-to-tail philosophy in meat cooking. It suggests that we should try to use everything from the root to the stem (including leaves and flowers) when cooking, generating minimal waste.

We get that this is not the case 100% of the time, but it’s the sentiment that counts. In most cases every part of the plant is edible, and including the bits that we’d normally throw away increases the nutritional profile while minimizing waste. This is not only good for your body, it’s also good for your wallet!

The Flower in Your Pizza Base

That’s all well and good, but what does it have to do with your pizza you may ask? It appears that no industry is immune to this burgeoning craze. One example, Cali’flour Foods, uses the entire head of a fresh cauliflower in their pizza bases. This includes the stem, leaves and flower itself.

But root-to-stem is not limited to pizza bases, toppings get just as interesting when you start incorporating the leaves and stems. And they’re tasty too! See the recipe below for one great way to use the whole vegetable in your pizza!

Know Your Veggies!

Be warned however, not all vegetables can be used in the root-to-stem cooking method. Some have hard and woody stems and the leaves of others, like rhubarb and tomatoes, are poisonous.

Keen to try this new approach to waste-saving cooking? Start with these 5 root-to-stem vegetables or try the recipe below for a flatbread pizza using beetroot for the base.

Crispy Beet Flatbread Pizza

root-to-stem pizza

3 whole medium beets, washed and peeled, tops trimmed and reserved
3/4 cup oat flour*
1 flax ‘egg’ (1T ground flaxseed/linseed + 3T warm water)
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1T olive oil
1T chopped rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste

Toppings: hummus and your choice of beet greens/spinach/rocket, asparagus, hard-boiled egg halves, cauliflower florets, cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado, pumpkin seeds, sliced artichokes, and salt and pepper to taste.

*For a grain-free substitute, use 3/4 cup almond flour and 1/4 cup chickpea flour

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Wash, peel and cut the beets into quarters. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Increase the oven heat to 420˚F.

In a blender or food processor, pulse the roasted beets with the remaining ingredients until smooth (this should be similar to a hummus texture) to make a beet ‘dough’. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

With a rubber spatula, spoon the beet ‘dough’ onto the parchment paper and smooth it out in a rectangular or oval shape until even, keeping it about 1/2cm thick. To make sure that the edges are thick enough, use a knife as a ‘wall’ when smoothing out the dough to avoid burning at the edges. Place in the oven for 15-18 minutes.

While the flatbread is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat and sauté the beet greens (or spinach or rocket) until lightly cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the flatbread from the oven, allow to cool and spread hummus over it, plus the greens and your choice of toppings. Enjoy your root-to-stem pizza!


Don’t miss the Belforno Wood-Fired Pizza Cookbook – it’s FREE!

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Belforno Wood-Fired Ovens
We are a manufacturer of authentic wood-fired ovens that we deliver to your home in a ready-to-assemble kit. Belforno ovens are designed in the Italian tradition using only the finest refractory ceramic materials to hold heat for long periods of time and provide superior cooking results. Contact us for more information.