Something Different
Week of: October 19, 2009
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Rice Meets Pizza

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

Mostly I write about food to celebrate its pleasures and to share recipes. This week is no exception. What inspired this week’s recipe, pizza with a rice crust, however, is more than just pleasure. Specifically, this is a dish everyone can enjoy when some at the table are restricted in what they can eat.

Today, everyone knows someone with dietary limitations, whether medically dictated or self-imposed. Restricting fat and sodium have become second nature in smart households, even when not required by an immediate medical condition. With increasing frequency there are also clinical conditions, ranging from type-2 diabetes to life-threatening allergies, to be honored.

Lately, gluten comes up often in conversations about diet. Approximately one percent of the U.S. population has celiac disease, where eating wheat or any food that contains gluten, a protein found in a number of grains, can cause excruciating pain, prevent absorption of nutrients and lead to serious medical complications. But some believe that more Americans are sensitive enough that they should avoid eating gluten. With friends ranging from medically diagnosed celiacs to self-diagnosed gluten avoiders, I am always looking for good recipes to share with them.

“Good” is an issue. Preparing most gluten-free doughs and baked goods from scratch is, politely put, a pain, plus the results rarely satisfy anyone not required to accept them. Pizza is particularly a challenge to make appealing.

Rice is a gluten-free grain nearly everyone can eat and enjoy. It contains two types of starch. One makes rice sticky when cooked; the other helps it fluff up.

Arborio is rich in the starch that makes rice sticky. This lets you press the cooked rice, mixed with Parmesan cheese and an egg, into a large, thin disk. Baked as a crust, it becomes the base for a vegetable-topped pizza even pizza lovers appreciate. If you have the round pan pierced with holes used for heating frozen pizza, it is ideal to use when making this recipe.

Rice-Crust Pizza

Rice-Crust Pizza

  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) plus 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim milk mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat 12-inch round pizza pan, or baking sheet, with cooking spray.

In medium saucepan, combine rice, water and salt. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat, cover, and cook until rice is soft, 18 minutes.

In large mixing bowl, combine hot rice with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and egg and use fork to mix until well combined. Mound rice mixture in center of prepared pan. With back of fork, spread rice out to cover pan, then make edge neat.

Bake crust until surface feels dry and firm, 18 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and pepper and cook until all moisture has evaporated from mushrooms and they are browned, about 12 minutes, stirring more frequently toward the end. Add salt to taste.

Spread mushroom mixture over rice crust. Spoon tomato sauce over vegetables. Sprinkle on basil and oregano, then mozzarella and remaining tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Bake pizza in oven until cheese is melted and starts to brown, about 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Cut pizza into four wedges. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 290 calories, 12 g total fat (6 g saturated fat), 29 g carbohydrate,
14 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 430 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at

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