I always felt bad for friends who had gluten allergies. No pasta, no bread, and most tragically: no pizza! Then I stumbled upon the gluten free pizza crusts that Evette Lecce of Pensi Pasta sells at the Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets. And I didn't feel bad anymore.
Sold alongside her fresh pasta, raviolis and delectable homemade sauces, Lecce's gluten free crusts are 12 inches of thin crust heaven and an affordable crispy base to your farmers market-sourced meal.
"People were asking for pasta, mainly, and so I started doing gluten free pasta," said Lecce. "Then I thought, well nobody has gluten free bread or pizza crusts."
Lecce makes the crusts with brown rice flower, tapioca starch flower, whole egg, xanthum gum and a tiny bit of yeast to aerate the dough. They are delicate little crusts and should be treated as such.
"Bake them at 375 degrees, for about twenty minutes. 400 is too high for these crusts, they're not like regular pizza crusts," said Lecce.
Nor do they taste like regular pizza crusts. They are not doughy and they do not rise, but they bake to a delicious golden brown and they are crispy and light. Anybody who likes thin crust pizzas will surely salivated over them—not just the factions of non gluten eaters among us.
Lecce recommends trying some of her sauces as a base on her crusts, like her basil pesto, red bell pepper pesto, spicy mushroom eggplant, or Southwest chipotle pesto which she says makes a delicously unique southwest chicken pizza with her corn salsa sprinkled over top.
Since I already had a cheap Trader Joe's brand pizza sauce at home, I skipped the sauce, regretfully, but made a delicious mostly-farmers market sourced pizza with thinly sliced zucchini, halved yellow cherry tomatoes, and red spring onion from Happy Boy Farms. I also sprung for some spicy Italian sausage from el Salchichero, and topped the whole shibang wih some julienned basil from my own garden.
The crusts are $3.50 a piece and can easily feed two, so the toppings (six dollars for two sausages) are what really make the farmers market pizza a bit pricy. But even if you keep it simple to save money, your taste buds will be satisfied.
If you're looking for more gluten free options, try Pensi Pasta's gluten free pasta, made with the same ingredients as the pizza dough plus quinoa flour.
"I do a plain linguini or fettuccini every week, and a flavored one every week, like spinich or garlic basil, I like to switch it up," said Lecce.
plain linguini or fettuchini or one flavor every week. Spinich, mushroom, garlic basil. I just do a plain, and a flavored every week and I like to switch it up.
About this column: Each Friday, writer Maria Grusauskas will give a sneak peak of the best fruits and vegetables expected at the weekend farmers markets.