Ask a dozen people who are limiting their carbohydrate intake what high-carb delicacy they miss most, and most of them are going to scream “PIZZA!” (Note: this is not a scientific survey). Sure, there are a few parlors selling a lower carb version of their pie, but most likely it’s still going to contain a lot more carbs than you want. That’s where brilliant cookbook author and renowned photographer Jackie Alpers enters the fray. In addition to authoring the new cookbook, Sprinkles!: Recipes & Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts (NOT for the faint-of-hearted carb-avoider), Jackie runs the food blog Jackie’s Happy Plate, which features healthy recipes and gorgeous food photography (visit with napkin to wipe drool from keyboard/iPhone). One of her most popular recipes, and one of our faves, is her Parmesan Pepperoni Crustless Pizza. Yes, the crust is made of Parmesan cheese. It may not be the recipe when you’re trying to cut fat intake, but for low-carb meal plans (as well as gluten-free), it’s just what Dr. Atkins ordered. Recent studies show that diets high in calcium from dairy products help reduce belly fat. Here it is, in Jackie’s words and pictures.
If you bake a layer of Parmesan cheese in the oven it will crackle and pop after a while, turning into a crispy, brown cheese cracker that’s much tastier than any pizza crust I’ve encountered. I topped this baked cheese crisp (which is a popular dish called Frico in Italy) with pizza spices and toppings before sliding it into the oven. The results: crustless pizza!
This dish is a fast & easy, low-carb, high protein way to enjoy pizza night anytime, and it travels well too. Recently, I took a batch on a flight. When I unwrapped my precious bag of “yellow gold” I’d stashed in my carry-on bag, my fellow passengers sniffed the air like dogs and stared at me jealously as the unmistakable aroma of baked cheese filled the cabin. This was quite a different response than the time I brought a Greek salad on board and was met with glares of disgust as the smell of onions drifted by.
I used a cookie sheet covered with a Silpat so that the cheese slid right off. You can also cover your cookie sheet with parchment or foil.
- 3 cups/8 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
- 4-6 oz sliced pepperoni. I used vegetarian.
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon of pizza or Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper – optional
- Sprinkling of Kernel Season’s Pizza Popcorn Seasoning – optional
- Pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees.
- Line a 12×18″ jelly roll pan or high-sided baking sheet with a Silpat, aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Cover with a layer of shredded Parmesan cheese. You should just barely see the bottom of the pan through the cheese. (See my photograph below.)
- Sprinkle cheese with pizza flavored popcorn seasoning if you are using it.
- Top with a layer of pepperoni. Feel free to experiment by adding/substituting your favorite pizza toppings.
- Sprinkle on the fennel, pizza spice and crushed red pepper.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes. Monitor the progress carefully during the last few minutes. After the cheese starts to pop, it can burn quickly. You want the surface to have a nice lattice pattern and a golden brown color.
- Remove from the oven and let cool to the touch before peeling from the foil or Silpat.
- Cut into pieces and enjoy!
- Serves 4.
All of the ingredients on a Silpat lined baking sheet:
The pizza after it’s been cooled to the touch, removed from the baking sheet, and is ready for slicing.
Jackie is an editorial, advertising and fine-art photographer & author based in Tucson, Arizona specializing in food related themes. Her clients include: Random House, Knopf, Simon & Schuster, Quirk Books, The Globe Pequot Press, Sterling Publishing, Rovio Entertainment (creator of the Angry Birds franchise), Loews Hotels, NBC/Universal, Epicurious.com, AARP Bulletin and The U.S. White House. She is the recipient of numerous awards from American Photography, The Photographer’s Master Cup, ASMP and the International Photography Awards (Lucie’s). In 2004 I received the the Black & White Spider Award’s, Merit of Excellence, and in 2001 she was awarded a bronze medal from the London Photographic Awards. She is the author of Sprinkles!: Recipes & Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts which will be published in October, 2013. Her book project, Angry Birds; Bad Piggies’ Egg Recipes, won “Best First Cookbook in the World” at the 2011 Gourmand Cookbook Awards. The Bad Piggies Best Egg Recipes app, released in October, 2012, which she photographed and edited, is the best selling cookbook app in the USA, China and numerous other countries.
To contact her in regards to commercial assignment bookings, please email her at: Jackie@jackiealpers.com or call 520-749-1949.