Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cook: Farro Sausage Pizza with Sautéed Vegetables and Sunflower Parmesan

The year is 2009. I'm sitting with my wife and a number of her anthropological friends  in some vegetarian friendly Philadelphia bar. I am ecstatic beyond belief because this bar is well stocked with a vegetarian staple that I just don't get to experience too often, seitan, a vegetarian meat made from vital wheat gluten. I order a Philly Cheesesteak that is made from seitan. I eat the entire sub, along with some fries, in one sitting. After some hours of conversation my wife and I begin the short walk back to our hotel. At some point during that walk I began to feel really sick. My stomach hurt, my head was pounding and I thought I was going to vomit with each step. I eventually made it up to the room and passed out on the bed. By the next morning, I felt fine.

I'm not sure what caused my body to react in such a way. I have long attributed that night to an overabundance of gluten. The roll that the sub was served on and the seitan were both made from gluten so I was basically eating a pile of gluten on top of a pile of gluten. Since that night, I have become much more strategic when it comes to seitan. I'm not so quick to embrace it and I rarely pair it with bread.

So when I got a hankering for some nostalgia laden sausage pizza the other night, I had a bit of a quandary on my hands. Most commercial sausages are made from vital wheat gluten. Most of the homemade versions I've crafted are made from the same thing. A pile of gluten on top of a pile of gluten did not seem like a good idea. So I started researching and realized that Farro, one of the oldest grains known to man, has a very low gluten level, is rich in vitamin B, fiber and protein and is chewy as hell. Farro would make the perfect sausage! It was at that moment that my version of Farro sausage was born. Here's how it went down:

Farro Sausage Pizza with Sautéed Vegetables and Sunflower Parmesan
(printable version)

For the Farro sausage:
-1 pound of Farro, cooked according to directions
-1 1/2 tsp. of salt
-3 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika
-2/3 tsp. of garlic powder
-1/3 tsp. of fennel seed
-1 tsp. of ground black pepper
-1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes

For the veggies:
-olive oil
-1/2 a green pepper, small dice
-1/2 an orange pepper, small dice
-1/2 a red pepper, small dice
-1/2 an onion, small dice
-handful of button mushrooms, small dice
-handful of spinach

For the Sunflower Parmesan:
-1 cup of sunflower seeds
-1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
-1 tsp. of sea salt

For the pizza:
-your favorite dough recipe
-your favorite tomato sauce recipe

1. Mix all of the spices for the Farro sausage together. Dump them into a spice grinder (or coffee bean grinder) and grind until the fennel has been turned into a powder. Add the spices to the cooked, still slightly wet Farro. Stir until the spices have been spread throughout the Farro. Set aside.

2. Heat some olive oil in a skillet. Place the peppers and onions in the skillet and saute them until they are soft. Add the mushrooms and spinach. Continue sautéing until the spinach has withered and the mushrooms have released their juices. Add as much Farro to the veggies as you like (I used about half of it on each pie I made). Cook together, stirring every so often, for a few minutes.

3. Meanwhile place the sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast and salt in a food processor. Process until the mixture is powdery and can be sprinkled.

4. Construct your pizza by layering the dough with tomato sauce and the veggie and sausage mixture. Sprinkle the sunflower parmesan overtop. Bake for however long your dough calls for (I did a thick crust that required 23 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit). Eat it!

This pizza makes noise like this.