Pizza with lots of Mexican flavor

DINNER TONIGHT

Black beans, cilantro, cheese combo top crust

DinnerTonight

May 26, 2004|By Renee Enna | Renee Enna,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Pizza dough offers a culinary blank slate that lends itself to lots of appealing food combinations. So say ole to this Mexican-flavored version with spark to spare: chilies, black beans, cilantro and tomatoes all topped with a blend of mozzarella, Monterey Jack and cotija cheese. Cotija is a bold-flavored Mexican cheese that behaves much like parmesan and grates beautifully; it can be hard to find, but you can easily substitute a Monterey Jack-mozzarella blend.

If you like your pizza soft and cushy, check out the ready-to-roll dough sold in the refrigerated section at Trader Joe's for less than $1. A sturdier version - and what we tested this recipe with - is from Mama Mary's, sold in the refrigerator case at many supermarkets. But the pizza crusts sold in cans in the refrigerator case also can be tailored to personal preference, as can easy box mixes. Some more tips:

* Pizza freezes beautifully. But instead of freezing half a pie, cut individual slices, wrap them in plastic and store in freezer bags. Reheat as needed.

* Use packaged shredded Mexican-style cheese blends.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Menu:

`Say Ole' Pizza

Raw vegetables with guacamole

Mexican beer or lime-flavored sparkling water

Mango sorbet

`Say Ole' Pizza

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes; cooking time: 18 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 prepared pizza crust, see note

4 green onions, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded, thinly sliced

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved, or 3 tomatoes, diced

1 cup canned black beans, drained

1 cup shredded cheese, such as a combination of Monterey Jack, mozzarella and cotija, see note

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread oil over pizza crust. Sprinkle onions, jalapeno, tomatoes and beans over pizza. Top with cheese. Place on baking sheet.

Bake pizza until crust is golden, about 18 minutes. Sprinkle cilantro over top before serving.

Note: Some pizza crusts have specific baking instructions; give the package directions priority. Cotija cheese is a Mexican cheese available in specialty and Hispanic markets and some natural-foods stores; you can easily use a combination of Monterey Jack and mozzarella.

Per serving: 194 calories; 10 grams fat; 3.5 grams saturated fat; 13 milligrams cholesterol; 20 grams carbohydrate; 8 grams protein; 292 milligrams sodium; 3 grams fiber

- Analysis courtesy of Chicago Tribune

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