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May, 2009

Healthy Tortizzas

By Dennis Linden

While the competing schedules of today’s busy modern family make it difficult to share a home cooked meal together, it is not impossible with a little planning and can even be fun.

Cookin with the Kids Image
Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a great way to teach your children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories that will remain in your hearts forever.

Each COOKIN’ with the KIDS feature will offer a simple, healthy and delicious recipe that can be prepared by a child or a group of children working together, under the supervision of an adult.
Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to decide the division of labor based on age and ability as well as where help will be especially needed. Since some of these recipes are the kids’ contribution to a family meal, many of these articles will include suggested complimenting dishes from Melissa’s recipe archives for the adults.


Take advantage of the Cinco de Mayo promotions being offered in the retail produce department and Hispanic grocery aisle to have a mini fiesta in the family kitchen, building healthy variations of the not-so-waist-friendly pizza. Using some tasty south-of-the-border ingredients, the whole family can have fun building individually-sized pizzas without all the fattening cheeses, high carb crusts or cholesterol-laden Italian meat toppings. The trick is to provide a buffet of healthy alternative ingredients that will teach your little sous chefs that this traditional kids’ favorite can taste good and be healthy too.

The basic idea is to start at the bottom with any of the taco size, low carb or whole grain tortillas available in the marketplace these days instead of the traditional ready-made or even homemade white flour pizza dough. Then build mini pizzas with a Latin accent by first slathering each tortilla with one of Melissa’s three Fire Roasted Salsas rather than tomato paste and subbing Melissa’s Cheddar or Mozzarella Soy Shreds as an alternative to high calorie dairy cheese. Melissa’s delicious Soyrizo is the perfect cholesterol free option to the usual greasy pepperoni or Italian sausages. Everyone in the family can help prepare some fresh produce toppings chosen from the Latin section of your local grocery market. These mini pies take just fifteen minutes to bake into completely fat free, delicious “Tortizzas”!

The two suggested pie recipes for this article are just that, suggestions. After the basic substitutes of tortillas, salsa, Soy Shreds and Soyrizo, an assortment of fresh ingredients should be used as toppings that can vary depending on each family member’s tastes. For instance, a hotter variety of pepper could be included if your little helpers like spicy foods; other Latin ingredients that you might want to consider are diced tomatillos, chayote or cactus leaves (nopales). Try mango or papaya, rather than pineapple, for a very tasty twist on the tropical pie! In fact, have some fun with a taste testing of everyone’s creations by cutting the finished “pies” into quarters and serving them all together on a big platter. Allowing your kids to build their own tortizzas gives them a chance to practice a little culinary creativity while learning what flavors blend well together.

It should be noted that using a tortilla instead of thicker pizza dough does call for few adjustments to the cooking process. Since a tortilla cooks a lot quicker than pizza dough, be sure to supervise your helpers in slicing and dicing the fresh toppings very thin so that they cook up just as fast. Also, be aware that the moisture in the pineapple, or any other fruit you might choose, will tend to work against the tortilla crisping up in the center. Slice up the pineapple first and wrap the pieces in a paper towel to absorb as much of the fruit juices as possible while the other ingredients are being prepared. Preheating the cookie sheet and oven at the same time will also help to compensate for this excess moisture; build the tortizzas on a cutting board and carefully slide them onto the heated cookie sheet, then pop them in the oven. In order to more easily see when the tortilla is crisp, as well as to replicate the look of a crusty edged pizza, leave about a half inch of tortilla showing around the entire pie. When this border begins to brown the tortizza is done. The hot cookie sheet will continue browning the tortillas out of the oven, so immediately transfer the pies onto the cutting board to cool and cut. Feliz Cinco De Mayo!

TORTIZZAS
Serves 4
TORTIZZAS
Ingredients & Topping:
1 package “low carb” or whole grain tortillas (taco size)
Any or all of Melissa’s Fire Roasted Salsa – Garlic, Hot or Mild

Arrange the following in small bowls on the kitchen table:
1 package Melissa’s Soyrizo (lightly sautéed)
1 package Melissa’s Cheddar Soy Shreds
1 package Melissa’s Mozzarella Soy Shreds
1 Anaheim Chile Pepper, sliced crosswise into very thin rounds
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced thin
1 package thin sliced luncheon ham
12 oz. – hand shred into small pieces
1 cup fresh Organic Pineapple, cut into ½“ slices, then diced into 1” squares
1 Organic Red Pepper, diced into very small cubes

TORTIZZA #1 – Soyrizo & Mushrooms
Any salsa flavor, Soyrizo, Cheddar Shreds, Anaheim pepper rounds, mushrooms

TORTIZZA #2 – Tropical
Mild or Hot salsa, Mozzarella Shreds, ham, pineapple, red peppers

TORTIZZA BUILDING:
1. Place a tortilla on a cutting board in close proximity to ingredient choices.
2. Spread the salsa evenly on the tortilla, leaving a half-inch border
3. Cover salsa area with Soy Shreds
4. Sprinkle with either Soyrizo or ham, depending on pie version
5. Sprinkle on other toppings – peppers, fruit, mushrooms
6. Lightly top with more Soy Shreds

What kids can do:
- Spread the salsa on tortillas
- Hand shred the ham
- Build their own tortizzas

What adult should do:
- Slice and dice all ingredients that need it, or closely supervise a child judged old enough to do these tasks safely.
- Bake at 425° for 12-15 minutes (watch carefully), cool and serve.