Give pizza and healthy Latin twist by making it at home with fresh, familiar ingredients like calabacitas, corn and Mexican cheeses. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

A healthy idea: corn, tomato and calabacita pizza

Here’s a quick, delicious way to bring more of summer’s bounty onto your plate: whip up a homemade pizza using classic Latin veggie combinations, like corn, tomato and calabacitas. Start with store-bought pizza dough to keep things simple and fast; you can even improvise with wheat or flour tortillas. Then, skip the tomato pizza sauce, and instead go for traditional Mexican melting cheeses, like queso Oaxaqueño or requesón, which you can find in many Latin super markets.

Queso Oaxaqueño is considered Mexico’s version of mozzarella, thought it’s slightly tangier and melts even more beautifully. Reqeusón is similar to ricotta, mild, milky and lightly textured. From there, use whatever veggies you have on hand, but make sure to start with onions and garlic to amp up the flavors, then add a oregano and cumin to round things out. While Italian pizzas are often finished with basil and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, for this Latin-inspired one you can instead reach for cilantro leaves and cotija cheese, also available at Latin supermarkets.

The result? You won’t miss the pepperoni at all!

Corn, tomato and calabacita pizza

Corn & calabacita pizza4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, 1 of them minced, 3 thinly sliced
2 jalapeños, seeded, deveined and thinly sliced
1 large Mexican calabacita (or green zucchini), halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup fresh corn kernels
Salt and black pepper, to taste
8 ounces refrigerated fresh pizza dough
Cooking spray
5 ounces thinly sliced queso Oaxaca (or substitute with mozzarella)
1/4 cup cotija cheese (or substitute with grated Romano cheese)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1. Preheat oven to 475. Place an oven rack in the next to lowest setting. Place a large rimmed sheet pan on the rack.

2. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the minced garlic; set aside and let stand.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add onion and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until the onion is tender and translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the jalapeño, garlic, calabacitas, oregano and cumin to pan. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn, salt and black pepper and continue cooking for 2 more minutes, until fully heated. Set aside.

4. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in two equal pieces. With a rolling pin, roll out each piece to form an 8-inch round or rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the sheet pan from the oven, and coat it with cooking spray. Carefully transfer the rolled out rounds to the heated sheet pan, making sure the pies don’t touch. Using a fork, poke holes over the portion of each round that will hold the toppings. Then, leaving a 1/2-inch border of dough, brush each with the garlic-infused oil.

5. Arrange Oaxaca cheese slices evenly over each round. Spread the corn mixture evenly over the cheese, and top with cotija cheese. Bake the pies for 12 minutes, until they start to turn golden.  Remove from the oven, and arrange the sliced tomatoes evenly over the pizza; bake an additional 7 to 8 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

6. Remove from oven; sprinkle with cilantro leaves. Serve immediately. Makes two pies.

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