Pizza, Low Salicylate and SCD legal!

Pizza is one of those easy classics beloved of nearly everyone. Back in the days when I was (damaging my gut by...) eating wheat it was a real treat to buy a ready-made pizza on my way home from work, to toss carelessly into the oven while I mixed myself a well earned rose martini. Something about that combination of crisp bread, melted cheese and sweet, concentrated tomatoes, oozing with umami goes right to the very soul of anyone with a functioning set of taste buds.

When I gave up wheat there was a period of frenzied experimentation with pizzas made from dark, malty teff and light, chewy sorghum - adding a little millet or maize flour for crunch and a spoonful of arrowroot for a light as air, thin and crispy base. All deliciously good, but as you will no doubt realise from my current diet - not good for me.

Post flourgate (that scandal involving me, grains and digestive disorder) pizza seemed like one of those foods that I would always think of wistfully, but do without for the greater good. Not so! I found that I could make the base of my pizza with almond flour and even ring the changes between thin and crispy and fluffy deep crust just by beating my egg whites. No mozzarella allowed because of the lactose content, but I always preferred cheddar or Parmesan anyway.

Yet there was still the tricky question of what to do for Fin? Fin's low salicylate diet excludes most traditional pizza toppings - no tomato, peppers, olives, aubergine or spicy salami - all the piquant counterpoints to cheese and bread that form the perfect golden section that is pizza.

Much head scratching ensued and I was put in mind of a time when I laughed (politely behind my hand) at Craig Sams nightshade free ketchup, 'Nomato' when he told me about it on Hastings beach. Back home as we licked the sea salt from our lips, we chuckled about Nomato, declaring it to be the very apotheosis of bourgeois food faddism. Oh how I'm eating my words now Craig, humble pie is in the post.

What I came up with is a paste made from roasted butternut squash and red onions, spiked with fresh lemon juice to give it the required bite. It's delicious - I could eat it by the spoonful. It's definitely not tomato, but it is sweet, sharp, richly thick and fruity enough to do the job. I may even prefer it, always having been a sucker for caramelised onions.

The base is a cinch - you can even prepare them in advance and freeze for those times when you'd rather call up a take away than peel another damn carrot (only you can't eat take-out because they don't come grain free, sugar free, potato and milk free). Then all you have to do is smear on a tasty topping and grate some cheese, stick it in the oven for ten minutes and lie on the kitchen floor until it's ready.

I also use home made pesto with a little Parmesan grated over (another low salicylate option) or Turkish red pepper paste which I buy in my local green grocers (not remotely low in salicylates). Anything garlicky, fragrant or piquant will work here, this is just a springboard for your imagination.

If you have a small person who longs for pizza but can't eat tomatoes, grains or mozzarella then make a batch of these pizzas. You can let them assemble their own or just present a surprise tray full of slices ready to be delivered just a bit too hot to the mouth. I guarantee you will be fighting over who eats the last slice!

Low Salicylate, Grain Free Pizzas (makes two cookie sheets of pizza, feeds 3-4)
Pizza Bases
3 large free range eggs
3 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp melted butter or duck fat / goose fat
1/2 tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp sea salt
6oz ground cashews or hazels (medium sals = coconut flour and ground almonds if salicylates are not an issue)
1 tsp vinegar

Preheat the oven to 180C and line two cookie sheets with non stick baking parchment - or make this up with other flat trays. You could also use silpats, well oiled trays or non stick ones.

Whisk the first five ingredients together in a bowl until frothy and starting to thicken slightly (if you want a fluffier base then you can separate the eggs and beat the whites, folding them in at the end).

Beat in the ground nuts and vinegar and spread onto the baking parchment in an even, thin layer about 1/2 cm thick. It will be like thick batter, not dough.

Bake for 5 minutes until just firm but not coloured. leave the trays to cool a little before spreading your chosen toppings on and re-baking until the edge of the pizza base is golden brown and the cheese melted. Voila!

'Nomato' Red Onion and Squash Pizza Topping (makes enough to cover both bases and some extra).

Ideally make this before the bases.

1 medium butternut squash
2 red onions
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
olive oil/pepper/sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 200C

Peel, de-seed and chop squash into small dice. Place in a mixing bowl.

Peel and chop onion into rings and put in the bowl with a slosh of olive oil, a few grinds of black pepper and large pinch of sea salt. Smoosh about to coat everything and tip onto a large flat baking tray.

Roast for about 25-30 minutes stirring occasionally, until squash is soft and onions are starting to crisp around the edges.

Tip into a food processor and whizz to a paste with the juice of half a lemon. Taste and decide if you need to add the rest of the lemon - it needs to balance the sweetness of squash and onion. Spread on your pizza, top with cheese and bake again.

A note about olives for those on a low salicylate diet - they are high in salicylates so avoid if you are very sensitive, but I figure that a few are ok every now and then providing the rest of your diet is low in salicylates.