There are a whole lot of reasons why pizza is such a popular dish. Not only is it quick and easy to make, it’s a delicious way to use extra vegetables from the garden. You can eat it as a tasty snack or a nutritious meal – and it can be as simple or complex as you like. Truly, a pizza recipe is only limited by your tastes and imagination!

Finished quick pizza

Use your homegrown veggies and herbs to create a heart-healthy – and tasty – meal in minutes!

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

Garden ingredients

You can’t go wrong when your pizza toppings are garden-fresh!

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

Oil on bread

A little olive oil and five minutes in the oven helps prevent the crust from getting soggy.

Photo Credit: Mary Moore

Here’s an easy twist on this popular cuisine, and it’s just as versatile as the traditional pizza pie:

First, grab a loaf of French bread from the grocery store. (If you want to try something healthier, buy the whole wheat version instead.) Next, select your ingredients – the ones that come straight from your garden!

Tomatoes picked fresh from your back yard are sweet and tangy, while your onions are flavorful and crisp. Peppers, spinach, arugula and other ingredients you’ve grown yourself can also be prepared within a short time of picking them, allowing their full flavor and texture to shine through. (If onions or garlic are out of season, consider using chives, leeks or scallions.) And don’t forget the herbs! Basil, oregano and parsley can fill any pizza with wonderful flavor!

Of course, the final topping to your pizza is cheese! Mozzarella is obviously the most traditional choice, but don’t let that stop you from trying other types. Swiss, cheddar, gouda or even soy mozzarella can open a whole new world of tastes!

For the pizza pictured, I use one loaf of French bread, two tomatoes, one onion, two small green peppers, basil and some Swiss cheese. After I wash and cut up the vegetables, I set them off to the side.

Next, I prepare my “crust” – bread crusts to be exact. I cut the French bread into about 1-inch-thick slices, brush on a thin layer of olive oil, then bake in the oven (at 400 degrees) for about five minutes. The bread will form a light crust that helps to prevent the fresh ingredients from soaking in and making the pizza soggy.

While my bread is toasting, I sauté my cut veggies lightly to mellow the sharp taste of garlic or onions, as well as to enhance the taste and soften the texture of the other veggies. (This also helps decrease the sogginess of the pizza.)

Once the bread is toasted and my veggies ready, I just layer the vegetables on each slice. (And if I’m in the mood, I’ll top it with meats.) Finally, I sprinkle each little pizza with some shredded cheese or a single slice of Swiss (or whatever yummy cheese my palate calls for).

Then it’s back to the oven for about five minutes (or until the cheese melts). Once my pizzas cool a bit, they’re ready to eat!

The neat part about this recipe is you can change it every time, varying your ingredients according to whatever seasonal vegetables are available from your garden. Tomatoes and peppers are great in summer, arugula or spinach (with chicken) is delicious in spring or fall – and maybe even try broccoli, red onion and extra cheese in early winter. Whatever toppings you choose, this quick and easy recipe makes a great snack or tasty meal. Happy harvesting – and buon appetito!