Speedy Suppers: Pizza Gets a South-of-the-Border Makeover


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

I love Spinning class. For me, it's a great workout--and 45-60 minutes of letting someone else tell me what to do. Compared with my other favorite form of fitness--yoga--Spinning requires less immediate focus and allows more time for contemplation. Through rolling hills, sprints and grueling jumps, I focus on the finish line--and quite often the delicious dinner I'll make once I get home.

I have been inspired to make plenty of new recipes while on a bike--both on the trail and in the Spinning studio. Sometimes they turn out so-so (a strange lasagna using root vegetables and collard greens in a vegan cream sauce--what?) and other times they rock my world!

The idea for this Mexican pizza came to me just a week ago, and my boyfriend is already asking when we'll be having it again.
When I was a kid, my parents were big fans of Chi-Chi's--the only thing resembling Mexican food we could get in southeastern Ohio. My palate wasn't quite as adventurous back then, so I'd always order the kids' Mexican pizza--ground beef and cheese baked on a tortilla and served with salsa. My tastes have changed--and so has my Mexican pizza.

I wanted a real pizza crust, something whole-grain and substantial enough to hold the plethora of produce I wanted to throw on top. Pizza crust is often dusted with cornmeal, so why not make a cornmeal crust?

I often struggle with dough. Too sticky, too dry, too chewy, too crispy--it's hard to achieve the proper balance. I hit gold with a variation of my mom's whole-wheat pizza dough. It's sturdy and chewy without being too doughy. It crisped up nicely, especially when I parbaked it in my cast-iron skillet. (The secret, I think, is plenty of fork holes to allow steam to escape the 3/4" crust.)

The crust, I realized, would make two pizzas. There would be food for tonight, tomorrow's lunch and snacks over the weekend!

The crusts rolled out and set to bake for a few minutes, I moved on to toppings. What would crown my Mexican masterpieces?

I had a can of fat-free refried black beans in the pantry. They would provide a great base--the thick, creamy beans would protect my now-slightly golden crusts from getting soggy from the other toppings. I spread a thick layer on with a spatula. (Note: If you leave off the beans, serve salsa on the side to prevent a soggy crust.)

On top went a cup of salsa, divided between the pair. On went slices of red peppers, onions, and extra sharp, low-fat cheddar cheese. About 2 tablespoons cumin, which gave the pizzas a rich, smoky, home-cooked taste, was the final touch.

A mere eight minutes later, my beauties were ready to come out. While they cooled slightly, I whipped up an avocado and some cilantro in the blender and stirred some lowfat sour cream to drizzle over the top.

I cut about 1/6 of the pizza (Fred had a quarter of a pizza), topped with a dollop of my creamy avocado, some cilantro and a drizzle of sour cream.

(a picture of Fred's plate, with liberal doses of sour cream and avocado)

We were happy to discover that they tasted as good as they looked. We restrained ourselves from having seconds, and we both eagerly awaited lunch the next day.

All together, it made 12 servings, which we served with salad a couple of times. It was a great food to have on hand for the weekend. The crust was crunchy and chewy, like cross between a tortilla and pizza dough. The toppings were a nice contrast of creamy and crunchy. Each slice had--get this!--204 calories and less than grams 6 of fat.

This recipe is a keeper! I'm already thinking of ways to alter it:
  • Toss on strips of grilled chicken breast (about 24 ounces totals)--add 62 calories, .7 g fat per slice.
  • Sprinkle on a pound of ground turkey (53 calories, 3 g fat per slice) or lean beef (88 calories, 6.4 g fat), seasoned with low-sodium taco flavorings.
  • Top with a handful of chopped lettuce.
  • Swap pepper jack, colby or Monterey jack cheese for the cheddar (use low fat to keep nutritional info about the same).
  • Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for added tang.
  • Dip in extra salsa.
  • Top with sliced tomatoes instead of salsa.
  • Throw on 1 cup defrosted frozen corn kernels.
  • Top with chopped green onions.
  • Use black beans (try mashing them first) instead of refried beans.
  • Chop 2 cups defrosted and well-drained frozen spinach and add to the pizzas.
  • Swap salsa verde or a cilantro "pesto" for the salsa.

The Mexican pizza of my childhood is a distant memory. This is the one I crave now!

That's 11 variations off the top of my head. This recipe is going to get a lot of use in the coming months, I think! It would a fun recipe to make when you have guests. Everyone could personalize their pizza, even kids.

Did you like this recipe? Would you try it? Would you like to see more like it?

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  • 103
    Sounds gd - 7/27/2009   4:03:14 PM
  • 102
    Sounds delicious. I'm inspired to bring back the Mexican Pizzas of my youth in the form of Mexican Pita Pizza! - 7/13/2009   12:27:36 AM
  • NILA99_00
    This sounds great ty for sharing. - 6/19/2009   7:51:51 AM
  • 100
    Sounds great!! How can I put this 'speedy suppers' blog where I can find it quick?? - 6/8/2009   2:24:07 PM
  • 99
    I wasn,t hungry till I read this...

    We love mexican and pizza.

    Thanks it sounds great - 4/27/2009   1:18:02 PM
  • 98
    Sounds like a keeper of a recipe! I'll definitely give this one a try. I'm sure the family will love it. Thanks! - 4/14/2009   5:57:11 PM
  • 97
    Sounds great! We had chili for supper tonight, I think I could use the leftover on this crust. I love cornmeal to & the crust sounds like something I use again & again. Thanks! - 4/13/2009   6:22:19 PM
  • 96
    I have a Mexican craving and came across this. I can't wait to make it for dinner tonight. Thank you! - 4/13/2009   8:14:10 AM
  • 95
    I came up with a salsa based pizza recently. I use a wheat pita sliced in half, put a little bit of salsa on each side, add cheese and veggies and then bake in the oven. It can get a little soggy in the middle but is mostly toasted pita with cheese and veggies. - 4/12/2009   6:33:58 PM
  • 94
    I love this recipe and what a great idea. I've been doing something similar for years but I use more of an egg crepe w/wheat flour type crust. Anyway my family loves it and it makes a great breakfast pizza too!
    Thanks for the recipe--LJ - 4/11/2009   6:24:30 AM
  • 93
    I remember ChiChi's (also from OHIO). I would love to try your recipe. We love Mexican food!! Thanks for the wonderful idea for mexican pizza. - 4/10/2009   4:53:53 PM
  • 92
    Made this and loooved it - so did my 2 year old! Definately a keeper recipe! So many ways to jazz it up and make it different!! - 4/10/2009   1:14:21 PM
  • 91
    something similar happened to me last week. My "pizza" ended up being recycled for breakfast. I cooked the dough then added scrambled eggs that were still wet, snippets of bacon and mozzarella before baking it a final time. Unfortunately there was no salsa in the fridge to eat with it. It was yum to begin with, but with Salsa it would have been even better. My husband wondered when we would have it again. .... side bonus. by using less dough in my pizza a couple of days before I was able to cut the calories in my pizza too. - 4/10/2009   9:27:32 AM
  • 90
    Wow, that's one big chunk of pizza. I am not a pizza person and if I want to let my family eat pizza for dinner I will make my own. - 4/9/2009   8:24:55 PM
  • 89
    We love making BBQ chicken pizzas (with corn and black beans!) and more traditional pies at home with homemade whole wheat crust - this is a variation we'll definitely try!! Thanks for the idea! - 4/9/2009   7:40:48 PM
  • 88
    Yummy! Great article. - 4/9/2009   7:25:20 PM
    I think it sounds great! I will definitly try it and would love more recipes with the mexican theme. - 4/9/2009   7:20:05 PM
  • 86
    Sounds delicious!
    I think I am tired where is the recipe?
    Yes more recipes please.
    - 4/9/2009   6:22:50 PM
  • 85
    This sounds good but I rather buy a pre-made one that is whole grain, it would be so much easier.. with having two little ones ; ) - 4/9/2009   4:36:45 PM
  • MARGO63
    sounds really good, love mexican food - 4/9/2009   4:17:43 PM
  • 83
    Yes it looks great, yes I would make it, and yes I'd like to see more recipes like this. - 4/9/2009   2:49:30 PM
  • 82
    This recipe does sounds great. Another than creating bagels bites some time ago, I never made my own pizza. So, it will take a lot of confidence for me to make this from scratch b/c I have not made a lot of things like this from scratch. I might try to find a whole wheat pizza crust and follow the recipe from there. Thanks for this! - 4/9/2009   2:08:56 PM
  • 81
    I would love to find a recipe where I could make a whole pizza and eat it myself.

    That's why I like the frozen pizzas by South Beach and Smart Ones (weight watchers) They are only about 350 calories total and I get the WHOLE pizza.

    Something about not having to eat "just" a slice or two makes me feel so much more satisified. But I would prefer to eat more homemade things. I just gotta play around with some ideas so that I can make it myself and get the whole thing. - 4/9/2009   12:30:48 PM
  • 80
    Sounds yummy, but a lot of work to make something that won't fill me up. - 4/9/2009   12:21:25 PM
    The recipe makes 2 pizzas. You get 1/6 of the pizza. :) - 4/9/2009   12:18:26 PM
  • 78
    With 204 calories a slice, and the pizza is divided into 12 slices, I would probably not be full on just a slice or two. :( - 4/9/2009   12:03:00 PM
  • 77
    Now that sounds like my kinda pizza - I love Mexican - I would add some jalapenos. - 4/9/2009   11:56:27 AM
  • 76
    This looks wonderful! I'm inspired - I have some homemade black beans and chile rajas left over from making tacos the other night.... - 4/9/2009   11:52:48 AM
  • 75
    How creative! I am glad I am not the only one who zones out during cadio! - 4/9/2009   11:24:47 AM
  • 74
    I like Mexican food and LOVE Pizza, alhtough pizza does not like me, by increasing my triglyceroids. My docs suggest I eat only once a month or every 3 weeks. But, I eat once every week --to satisfy my body's cravings - no! not emotional eating! LOL.

    This looks so good....wish I could make it at home, I would still need to buy the pizza base which takes away all the best taste since I can't knead or prepare dough without help from ( not enough lung power due to PH) DH, who only likes commercial pizza and not whole wheat or home made!!

    Looks so yummy, please do have a heart and send some of your left overs my way, Stepfanie - !! LOL

    I am like you - most of my inspirations to create something different comes from listening to the body ( when its lacking in some good stuff apparently!) when I am starving. Like you, I too have found it's a golden find at times and at other times - just mush that tasted great at the moment:)

    Thanks for the recipe:)

    - 4/9/2009   11:21:16 AM
    Thanks for this recipe it looks very good. I will be making this but it will be vegan, vegan cheddar cheese and vegan sour cream. - 4/9/2009   11:04:16 AM
    we also like to make mini pizza's with english muffins as the crust---oh soooo good. - 4/9/2009   10:59:23 AM
    I'm from South America, and in my country we don't eat hot food. - 4/9/2009   10:56:30 AM
  • 70
    This sounds great! Can't wait to try it on the gang! - 4/9/2009   10:54:32 AM
    I used to liked Mexican food.in the past. - 4/9/2009   10:49:19 AM
  • 68
    This sounds delicious and making me hungry @ 9:45 am!!! - 4/9/2009   10:46:20 AM
    I like the idea of a cornmeal crust. This is something I want to try asap, I never get to eat pizza other than at daughters home when she has it as my husband hates it and I don;t bother to purchase one or have home delivery. This looks great and I could make a small one by adjusting the ingredients. Great! - 4/9/2009   10:35:16 AM
  • 66
    right before i logged on this morning i opened my fridge and said i want to make pizza for dinner tonight..now i know what kind i'm making..that sounds soooo good! thanks for idea and by the way, chichi's used to be my idea of "world cuisine" too. - 4/9/2009   10:12:05 AM
  • 65
    Sounds super-yummy! i will most likely make this in the next couple of days, thanks! - 4/9/2009   10:11:46 AM
  • 64
    Looks delicious! - 4/9/2009   10:11:36 AM
  • 63
    Sounds just like the tostadas we make sometimes! Now I'm wanting Mexican! LOL Maybe we'll have that for dinner tonight. - 4/9/2009   9:19:21 AM
    Yummy my mouth is watering! thanks I will be making this!!! - 4/9/2009   8:47:55 AM
  • 61
    This sounds excellent. Can't wait to give it a try! - 4/9/2009   8:43:35 AM
  • 60
    Love pizza, will have to try this version for a change. - 4/9/2009   8:25:29 AM
    I am drooling at my desk! - 4/9/2009   8:23:37 AM
    It looks sooo good, and a healthy variation to traditional mexican pizzas! - 4/9/2009   7:48:57 AM
  • 57
    Big pizza eater here ...and haven't had one for a while either. :o)
    Sounds good will have to try this one out. - 4/9/2009   7:34:37 AM
  • 56
    Let me just say this to the nay-sayers, this is great stuff. My husband is a man who grew up on beans and tortillas. A true beaner, and he will be the first to admit it. He loves this. We did this years ago when we were running a pizza place here in Tucson. All the college and high school kids that worked with us thought it was great too. We would cook up different things for the crews to have for lunch and dinner, you kind of get tired of the same old stuff everyday. Try it, you'll be surprised. You are only limited by your imagination. - 4/9/2009   7:24:11 AM
  • 55
    Wow! Stepfanie, this looks great!! I can't wait to try it! Yum! - 4/9/2009   7:20:29 AM
  • SBATES63
    Looks wonderful. Saved this one to my cookbook for later. - 4/9/2009   7:18:51 AM

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