Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a homemade heart-shaped pizza

Zoe Malin, Reporter

While Valentine’s Day is notorious for fancy dates and expensive gifts, sometimes the best way to show someone you love them is with a home-cooked meal. Even the least-experienced chef can make pizza, and this particular rendition — which is also gluten-free — only takes an hour from start to finish.

Holidays like Valentine’s Day can be anxiety-provoking for those with food allergies or dietary restrictions. Eating in a restaurant poses the risk of cross-contamination and receiving gifts of food often can’t be enjoyed due to unclear ingredient lists. Making a homemade, gluten-free pizza creates a more inclusive eating experience for everyone involved.

To collect the ingredients for your heart-shaped pizza, visit the following three stores in Evanston. Each has specific items that will make the pizza unique, like spices and pesto from local Evanston shops.

Whole Foods (1640 Chicago Ave.)
Buy: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix, eggs, olive oil, cornstarch and shredded mozzarella
To make the crust for your pizza, you’ll use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix. The bag includes yeast, and the dough only takes 20 minutes to rise. This mix produces a soft-on-the-inside, crunchy-on-the-outside crust, and those who don’t eat gluten-free often can’t taste the difference. While you’re at Whole Foods, also pick up eggs, olive oil, cornstarch and shredded mozzarella.

Spice and Tea Exchange (1615 Sherman Ave.)
Buy: Italian Herb Spice Blend and Garlic Powder
Whether you’re cooking something savory or baking something sweet, the Spice and Tea Exchange has an ingredient to enhance your dish’s flavor. The store’s Italian Herb Spice Blend and Garlic Powder to add extra flavor to the pizza’s crust. Both complement the marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, too.

Foodstuffs (2106 Central St.)
Buy: Foodstuffs pesto, fresh mozzarella and marinara sauce
Foodstuffs, a local chain, sells items found in a commercial grocery store, but it also has a small-business feel. The grocery store makes many of its own products in-house, like its pesto. Foodstuffs also has fresh mozzarella available daily, which is a great choice for topping the pizza. Purchase marinara sauce at Foodstuffs as well.

Gluten-free heart-shaped pizza
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Note: This recipe makes two 12-inch heart-shaped gluten free pizzas. The pizzas feed about four people.

– 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for preparing the pans
– 2 tsp. cornstarch
– 1 bag Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix, yeast included
– 1 ½ warm water
– 2 eggs
– 1 tbsp. Spice and Tea Exchange’s Italian Herb Spice Blend
– 1 tsp. Spice and Tea Exchange’s Garlic Powder
– 1 jar of marinara sauce
– 1 bag of shredded mozzarella
– 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
– Foodstuffs pesto

1. Prepare two 18×13-inch baking sheets. Cover each with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle about 1 tsp. of corn starch on top.
2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
3. Empty one bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix into a large bowl. Remove the packet of yeast.
4. Pour the packet of yeast into a small bowl. Add 1½ cups of warm water and mix. Let sit for 5 minutes.
5. Add 2 eggs and 2 tbsp. olive oil to the yeast mixture. Stir together and then pour into the large bowl with the dough mix. Add the Italian Herb Spice Blend and garlic powder.
6. Using your hands, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until the dough is fully incorporated.
7. Cover the bowl of dough with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise for 20 minutes.
8. Place the dough on one of the prepared baking sheets. Cut the dough in half, forming two balls. Place one ball on the second prepared baking sheet.
9. Repeating with both balls of dough, flatten the dough until it’s a disk about 2-inches thick. At this point, shape the dough into a heart. Pinch the perimeter of the heart to create a crust edge.
10. Place both baking sheets in the oven. Bake the crust without toppings for 7 minutes.
11. Remove the crusts from the oven. Cover with marinara sauce and a layer of shredded mozzarella.
12. Cut fresh mozzarella into thin slices. Place a few slices on top of each pizza. Add a few dollops of pesto, too.
13. Place the pizzas back into the oven for 15-20 minutes until the crusts are golden brown.
14. After you remove the pizzas from the oven, let them sit for 5 minutes to cool before slicing and eating.

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