Deconstructed Deep Dish Pizza Casserole (low carb, gluten free)

 

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Nothing brings out the absolute best in me like pizza. For the purposes of this post, “the absolute best” will be defined as “an uncontrollable, rabid animal who single-mindedly annihilates the largest amount of food in the shortest amount of time possible.”

Nothing else in the room exists until the pizza has been completely demolished. It borders on primal. Probably this goes back to when our Paleolithic ancestors roamed the earth, hunting day and night for the freshest wild mozzarella and pepperonis. It’s just evolution at work. It’s SCIENCE.

Dat melty, cheesy ooze. I need a moment. 

So while there’s an appropriate time and place for a quality (low carb or otherwise) pizza dough, my prehistoric tendencies demanded a more basic approach. Meat. Cheese. Toppings. More cheese. MORE MEAT. This would be pizza: DECONSTRUCTED.

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A lot of people seem to be under the impression that pizza could never be a low carb food. These people would be very wrong. What is pizza if not the sum of its toppings? I don’t need dough as a vehicle. I have my HANDS. And in the presence of others, begrudgingly, a fork.

That’s where this magnificent casserole comes into play. With a base of seasoned chicken sausage, LOADED with vegetables and crowned with beautifully bubbling and browned cheeses, you will be lacking for literally nothing when it comes to pizza night. Which you can now justify renaming “every night”.

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Deconstructed Deep Dish Pizza Casserole (low carb, gluten free)

Recipe adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

*I hate to leave our vegetarian or vegan friends out of the fun! If they’re part of your diet, feel free to substitute veggie versions of the protein or vegan cheese alternatives for this recipe! They’ll work just fine. 

Yields: Around 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (I used a ‘no salt added‘ variety)
5 links (19.5 oz.) uncooked chicken or turkey Italian sausage (I used Italian bulk chicken sausage)
1-2 tsp Italian herb seasoning (I used Penzeys – a mix of oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary)
8-12 oz. fresh mushrooms, washed and cut into thick slices
1/4 cup green peppers
1/4 cup green onions/scallions
1 cup spinach
1 1/2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim mozzarella)
1-2 tbsp grated parmesan
14 slices regular or turkey pepperoni, cut in half (I used this brand)
Fresh basil, for topping

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray an 8″ x 11″ casserole dish with non-stick spray or olive oil.

Pour the diced tomatoes into a colander placed in the sink. While tomatoes drain, spray olive oil/non-stick spray into a large frying pan, squeeze the sausage out of the casing, and brown over medium-high heat, breaking it apart as it cooks.

While sausage cooks, prepare other vegetables. Wash mushrooms, pat dry, and slice into thick slices. Dice green peppers and scallions.

When the sausage is done, make a layer of sausage in the bottom of the casserole dish and top with the drained tomatoes, spreading them out over the top of the sausage. Season with Italian herb spices.

Return to pan, and spray with olive oil or a non-stick spray. Add in green peppers and scallions and cook at medium high heat for around two minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook until all the liquid is released and the mushrooms are starting to brown. Add spinach and cook until just wilted.

Layer the mushrooms, pepper, scallion, and spinach over the sausage-tomato mixture. Cut pepperoni in half. Sprinkle the shredded Mozzarella over the top of the casserole and lay the pepperoni pieces on top of the cheese, spacing them evenly so the whole top is covered with pepperoni. Sprinkle the grated parmesan on top.

pizza8Cheese for miles.

Bake about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. If desired, run under the broiler in the last 2-4 minutes (keep an eye on it!) to brown the cheese. Top with fresh basil, and serve hot.

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Nutritional Info (As calculated with the above ingredients):

deconstructed pizza nutrition

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