Caramelized Onion, Shaved Butternut and “Goat Cheese” Pizza (Grain Free, Vegan)

When I was in grade school, there was exactly one boy (let’s call him Jerome) in our school who had a food allergy (to peanuts).  Jerome was already a bit too large (he towered over the rest of us; even in grade three, he was already level with our teacher, Mrs. B’s shoulders); a bit too goofy (he had one of those snorty-hiccuping laughs, sounding slightly porcine and aquatic at the same time); and a bit too fleshy, with excess skin seeming to hang from his waistband and cheeks, his complexion as white and matte as newly painted classrooms after summer break.

I always felt sorry for him. Even though he sometimes played the class clown out in the school yard, I never saw him smiling around food. He carried his dietary restrictions around like a backpack full of rocks–at once too heavy, yet requiring great attention to avoid causing injury–while the rest of us flaunted our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

When I first began the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD) in earnest in March, 2009,  I felt a long-lost connection to poor Jerome.  After all, not only did I have to eschew peanuts, but also gluten, most sweeteners, yeasts, alcohol and all moldy foods as well.  No, I won’t be eating any PB&J sandwiches in the foreseeable future.  And yet, after three years on the diet, I no longer feel like I’m missing out on very much (the one exception is social occasions–when we’re invited to someone’s house for dinner, or to a major event like a wedding or bar mitzvah; the industrial kitchens seem to have a tough time producing something I can eat that also tastes good).  I’ve more or less accepted that this will be my diet for the rest of my life, and I don’t mind cooking my own foods. I’ve discovered that, if you keep an open mind, there’s an infinite number of new food combinations and flavors to try, even on a restricted diet.

(“It’s true, Mum–we don’t think of our diet as restricted, either, even without chocolate!  We happen to love the combination of apple, cauliflower and salmon blended together in the food processor.”)

In fact, for me it’s become a kind of game, a little personal challenge whenever I spy something that looks delicious but which I’m not supposed to eat: how can I recreate that dish in a way that’s ACD-friendly? When I saw Cara’s Caramelized Onion, Shaved Butternut and Goat Cheese Pizza over on the Clean Eating webiste, I knew immediately that I’d have to reproduce it–or, at least, an allergy-friendly, low glycemic, ACD-approved version of it.  I saved the recipe on Pinterest (so much more fun than bookmarking!) and thought about what I’d change.

I ended up tweaking my own Grain-Free Pizza Crust to make it not only grain-free but also starch-free; used this goat “cheese” instead of the dairy-based one; and concocted an ACD-friendly version of the condensed balsamic that worked beautifully.  The HH (who, by the way, has no food allergies and can eat whatever he wants in whatever quantities he wants–don’t you just hate him?) went bonkers over this pizza. I think he wants Cara to come live with us now.

The pizza features thinly sliced, deeply browned onions, slow-cooked until sweet and languorous. They’re topped with shaved squash that’s wilted and beginning to curl at the edges, accented with crisp, toasty pumpkinseeds and bitter greens, all accented with dollops of tart, creamy goat “cheese.”

Savoring a big slice of this pizza, I felt completely happy, sated and even somewhat spoiled by the perfect symphony of flavors, colors and textures on my plate.  In other words, it was the very antithesis of a “restricted” meal. Now, if only I could invite Jerome to join us. I’m sure this pizza would make him smile aound his food, after all.

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  1. Oh, savory yumminess,,,my cashews are a soaking! Can’t wait to make this…you have awesome recipes, thank you!

  2. I want this! I need you to cook it for me, I may come by for a slice no matter the cold up there. You outdid yourself!

    I had a student like that too, lots of allergies, sort of an outcast. Lucky for him I had some allergies too and I got it. He still sat by himself at the peanut-free table a lot…sad.

    • Well, at least you could commiserate. Jerome didn’t sit by himself (no allergy tables back then), but he did stare longingly at our food. Oh, and please do come by for a slice!!

  3. I agree, awesome recipes and pizza, miss that the most being GFSFV…thank heaven Ricki you’ve got this blog!

  4. I really feel like food allergies or a least serious food allergies had really increased since I was a kid. So hopefully more kids feel more accepted among their peers. My husband used to lie and say that he was allergic to peanuts which was better than my declarations that I just don’t like peanuts I suppose.

    This pizza is so unique and flavourful looking. Definitely worth the pin.

  5. brilliant – I love your attitude to food – I am sad that sylvia can’t have peanut butter sandwiches because I love them (but no jelly or jam) but she probably eats so much more than I had as a child despite her allergy – and of course loves pizza – your pizzas always inspire me – must try this goats cheese again as I loved it on pizza – and I want to try this pizza base some time too

  6. Love it – this pizza looks absolutly fabulous and yes, the “very antithesis of a ‘restricted’ meal”. Great job!

  7. This looks amazing. I’m going to have to have to have company over for dinner so I have an excuse to make this. (I never make such fancy stuff just for me.) 🙂

  8. Stunning. LOVE pizza. I don’t know how you remember all those details from years ago, Ricki. I hope Jerome’s life got better. Maybe he found a good partner later in life who showed him how wonderful special diets can be. 🙂


    • Here’s the funny thing: At this stage of my life, I remember details from all those years ago better than what happened last week!! 😉 Thanks, Shirley. I have the same hope for him! 😀

  9. I have been ogling a chickpea-based pizza dough with similar toppings since the fall. I should really get my butt in gear to make such a scrumptious pizza. 🙂

  10. Hi Ricki! I made your original white bean pizza crust in the past and enjoyed it. I noticed you tweaked the recipe above… did these changes affect the texture or taste of the crust?

    • Hi Heather,
      I’d say the changes are mostly textural–the taste is almost the same, but if anything, it’s more bread-like. I wanted to tweak the crust to be less moist, and this version accomplished that goal! The edges are crisper and the center is more bready. I found with the previous version that “wet” toppings (ie sauces) often got absorbed by the crust and made it too moist. This one doesn’t have that problem. 🙂

  11. This looks so good…wondering if you deliver to really tired pregnant ladies?? I know I’m a long way from Canada but I think it might be worth it. 🙂


    • For you, girlfriend, no problem! Actually, a trip to Texas right now sounds like just the ticket for me–no snow, sunshine, and a new cute little one to see? I’ll be right over! 😀

  12. This looks absolutely lovely. I can already imagine how well those flavors play with one another – and I’m definitely going to have to check out that goat cheese recipe. Since you’ll be coming down to see Amy in Texas, come see me too! I’ll take a slice.

  13. I’m interested in trying this pizza which my husband will be able to eat (since he doesn’t eat eggs)! I created a pizza base with haricot beans and almond flour in the summer for my SCD son and OK it’s not like your regular wheat pizza BUT it does have a lovely light base and is definitely the best SCD pizza we have eaten! I put the success down to the beans! Love them! We can’t get garfava flour in the UK nor can we get psyllium husks easily so I’d have to replace them with something else BUT I love the recipe, thank you!

  14. I can’t wait to try this. It’s time for a new pizza crust in these parts! I’ll be making that cheese too. Poor Jerome 🙁 I’m working so hard to make sure Callum feels good about his allergies. It’s really hard when so many of his classmates have store-bought foods in their lunch. When I made him vegan jello he said, “But Mommy their Moms don’t make the jello. They buy it.” If he only knew 🙂

  15. Well isn’t this just totally divine 🙂 I hope you pack some in your suitcase for Nourished because I’m dying to try it! (and I’m so very flattered that you liked one of my recipes enough to veganize and de-grain it!)

  16. This pizza looks like a total show stopper! I’m very intrigued by your bean-based pizza crust, too.

  17. Holy creative recipe Ricki – this looks amazing!!

    • Thanks, but I really feel the need to keep reminding people–this is not my original recipe!! I totally swiped the toppings from Cara’s original, which is the creative one. 😀

  18. This sounds fabulous, and I agree with Bitt that I need you to cook it for me. 🙂 What I’d love to see on your posts is how long it took you to make the dish featured. This will either encourage or intimidate me, as the case may be, but it would be so helpful as a gauge of how much time I’d need to create one of your masterpieces. I don’t mean for you to go back through the posts, but maybe start now — or with the pizza.

    • Andrea, the total time for this exact pizza (making the crust from scratch) was the time it took to make the crust itself, since everything else is done while the crust bakes (and the glaze is done while the crust-with-toppings bakes). So: two minutes to blend, one minute to pat into the pan, then baking time of 35 minutes, a minute to spread the toppings, more baking of 15-20 minutes, 30 seconds to pour the glaze. Total of 58 minutes from start to table. If you use a prepared crust, the whole thing will take under 45 minutes. And this is, definitely, one of the more complicated recipes I make! (The HH and I are both pretty lazy–the only time I am okay with extended prep time is for baking, but when it comes to savory stuff, I tend to resent anything that takes more than 30 minutes!). 😉

  19. Mmmm, glad you made it! i’ve done something similar and love the flavor combo 🙂 good work with that crust 😉 i’d love to live in YOUR kitchen (or Cara’s, too!)

  20. That does look like a work of art! And I may play around with the cheese (I can eat toasted cashews, but not raw. I regularly argue and try to fool myself, but no). I bet it would still be tasty!

  21. Ricki, Thank you so much for sharing your great recipe on Allergy-Free Wednesdays! I love that the crust is made with beans and apple cider vinegar. Your recipes are always so tasty and heart healthy.

    Be sure to check back next week for recipe highlights (including the top 3 reader choice submissions and hostess favorites).

    Be Well!

  22. Hi There Ricki,

    Thank you for sharing your amazing recipe on our new blog hop (Allergy-Free Wednesdays). I looked up the recipe for that “goat cheese” and just fell in love. Just really love your whole pizza recipe, Ricki. The crust is so creative and it’s this sort of creativity that really inspires. Thank you for being a part of our blog hop this week!

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Be Well,

  23. Love the sound of this healthier version of pizza. The crust with beans is especially intriguing!

  24. The next time we make pizza this is going to be mine! YUM to all of it!

    • I have to say, that was my reaction, too! (But it is actually quite filling because of the bean-based crust, so I only had to have one piece–yay!). 😀

  25. We must all be craving the same things! I just made a butternut squash, spinach, gruyere grain-free pizza with pesto!

    I just saw your timeline at the end of this post, can’t believe you’ve been at it for 4 years! Congrats on such an accomplishment! I hope to get there someday! 🙂

  26. Cynthia Haynes says

    Ricki — I just stumbled across this recipe and am dying to try it! But when I hit the link for the goat cheese recipe, it takes me to a sad 404 page. I cry. Do you have the recipe? Would you be willing to share it? I’ve been searching for a good goat cheese substitute and something tells me this might be it! Thanks, Ricki 🙂


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