Spinach and Ricotta Pizza
Do you ever find yourself craving pizza but completely talking yourself out of eating it for fear that it is too unhealthy? If you said yes, I have great news for you: pizza does not have to be unhealthy. In fact, pizza can be loaded with nutritious (and delicious!) vegetables and protein. Pizza gets a bad reputation, but it can actually be a really healthy option. Plus if you are making the pizza at home, you are in complete control of what ingredients go in and on it. I created this Spinach and Ricotta Pizza focused on fresh, simple ingredients that take minimal prep and maximize the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in the dish.
Tight on time? Not to worry: you don’t actually have to make your own dough from scratch. You can rely on healthy convenience foods to make your pizza more quickly. Buy a pre-made pizza dough. By keeping ingredients and prep simple, you can whip this up quickly and then keep the leftovers for lunch the next day – double benefit.
I found whole wheat pizza dough at Whole Foods in a bag in the cold section. I’m also a fan of Trader Joes’ pizza dough if you have one in your area. Keep it simple by using jarred tomato sauce. All you have to do is mince some garlic (I use my garlic press or a jar of minced garlic in water), then slice the tomatoes and basil. Easy! This Spinach and Ricotta Pizza turned out so well and I hope you get a chance to make and enjoy it.
Health Benefits of Spinach
Study after study finds that diets with a variety of fruits and vegetables can be protective against chronic illnesses. Spinach, a leafy green vegetable, is among one of the many vegetables that offer protective health benefits. Spinach is considered to be a functional food, packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and bioactives. All of these components allow spinach to act as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory agent, and even an anti-obesity agent. Spinach can help signal the body to release a hormone telling the brain the stomach is full. Who would have thought that this small, leafy green plant could harvest that much power.
History of Ricotta
Ricotta is a type of soft and creamy cheese that originated in Italy thousands of years ago. If you are not familiar with ricotta, think cottage cheese, but less chunky and more smooth. Interestingly enough, ricotta was once a byproduct of cheesemaking. It was the result of reheating leftover liquid whey protein. Nowadays, ricotta is made using whole milk but you can also find lower fat varieties.
Health Benefits of Ricotta
Believe it or not, ricotta cheese offers some pretty great health benefits. Ricotta is high in fat and protein with a low carbohydrate make up. The fat in ricotta offers omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential for overall health. Omegas help keep the structure of your body’s cells strong. They also help to provide energy for important systems like the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels), the pulmonary system (lungs), the immune system, and the reproductive system. Omega-6 fatty acids are crucial when it comes to brain function.
Another awesome benefit of ricotta is its calcium content. Ricotta is high in calcium, helping to support and maintain normal growth and development of your bones. Some studies even suggest that calcium can help to protect against chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Making the Spinach and Ricotta Pizza
Let’s dive into making this delicious recipe. Before you get started putting the pizza together, you want to be sure to preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. You will need to pre-bake the pizza crust on a pizza stone until it’s firm but not brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. If you don’t have a pizza stone, not to worry, you can just use a pizza pan or put the crust directly on the rack.
Once the crust is cooked, remove it from the oven and spread the marinara sauce evenly over the top. Now for the fun part, adding the toppings! Feel free to really make it your own here. Start by sprinkling on the garlic and placing the cherry tomatoes throughout. Next, you will want to add the ricotta cheese. Do this by dropping on evenly spaced dollops.
After you have topped the pizza to your liking, return it to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Remove the pizza from the oven and set aside to cool. Before serving, garnish it with basil and red pepper flakes.
A great thing about pizza is that it is completely customizable. You can make it to your own preference. If you are sharing with someone else and you don’t love the same toppings, no problem. You can make half the pizza with the toppings of your choice and fill up the other half with the toppings of your friend or family member’s choice.
Are you gluten-free? Not to worry, you can simply replace the regular pizza crust with a cauliflower pizza crust. You can find these alongside the regular pre-made pizza crusts at Whole Foods or Trader Joes.
Eating vegan? Great! You can simply swap the ricotta cheese for a vegan cheese option of your choice.
If making a pizza at home sounds daunting, even with the premade crust and sauce, you can buy precut vegetables in the freezer section or your grocery store. You can also buy a jar of minced garlic and skip the mincing step, saving you time and cleanup.
Share with me in the comments if you make this recipe. I would love to also hear about your favorite pizza combinations and pairings!
If you enjoyed this recipe and are looking for more quick, simple meals to make at home with heart healthy ingredients, check out my:
Spinach and Ricotta Pizza
- 1 store-bought 9-inch pizza crust dough
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed and thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup ricotta
- 10 leaves of fresh basil, ripped into pieces
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Pre-bake the pizza crust on a pizza stone until it's firm but not brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the crust and spread the marinara sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle on the garlic and cherry tomatoes. Add the ricotta cheese in evenly spaced dollops.
- Return the pizza to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
- Remove pizza from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Garnish with basil and red pepper flakes.
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
Thanks for visiting! If you’re like me: obsessed with eating, wine, going out and traveling, you’re in the right place. Champagne Nutrition® LLC is a Registered Dietitian-run concierge virtual practice helping clients look and feel better. On this blog, you’ll ﬁnd cocktails, mocktails, and plant-based recipes that are easy to make quickly at home and pack for leftovers on your adventures.