A world outside of mozzarella & pepperoni

A simple google search for kid-friendly recipes is scary. What shows up, in fact, is a harrowing slew of butter-saturated, sugar-filled recipes written with a complete disregard for health. I discovered this last week because I was looking for just that – simple recipes that I can make with kids.

My friend Beth invited me to cook in front of a class of kindergarten students. Her son is in the class and they were looking for someone to do a cooking demo for the kids’ end of the year party – I was flattered that they thought of me and happily accepted.

I took this as my tiny opportunity to make a difference in the way these kids looked at food. While this was not the time to introduce them to the delicate flavors of perfectly-seared scallops or steak tartare, I wanted to cook with them something they’re familiar with, but probably never had before. I decided to let them make their own pizzas. Instead of just mozzarella and pepperoni though, I brought with me a ton of different vegetables and all sorts of sauces for them to experiment with. Well-aware of the fact that the kids will have a short attention span that rivals mine, I also brought with me my pizza paddle and pizza stone so they could take turns sliding their pizzas into the oven.

flying food is always fun for kids

One of my favorite pizza combinations we made with the kids was a lemon-infused, goat ricotta, white pizza topped with thinly sliced zucchini. The flavors are light, refreshing, and clean — perfect for the hot summer days ahead.

mise en place

Count them – four ingredients; five if you include the extra virgin olive oil. This means no skimping on ingredients! I tried this same pizza with regular ricotta and it doesn’t work. The wow factor just wasn’t there. If you absolutely cannot find goat-milk ricotta, however, not to worry. Mix a semi-firm chevre (like Spanish Capricho de Cabra) with some good quality, fresh ricotta and you’ll get a similar result. Like I said, it won’t be spot-on, but it will get you pretty close.

lemon zest makes me happy

The lemon zest in the ricotta serves two purposes. Not only does it heighten the flavors of the goat cheese, but it also gives the pizza a clean, crisp flavor. I recommend using organic citrus whenever a dish calls for using the zest or rind.

almost paper thin, almost

Zucchini has lots of moisture and moisture is the kryptonite, so to speak, of pizza. To remove some of this excess moisture you’ll want to thinly slice the zucchini (preferably with a mandoline) and fan the slices out on a plate so they’re not on top of each other. Then season the slices with salt and pepper and the salt will start to break down the cell walls of the zucchini, and thus allowing it to give up some of that moisture. Soak it up with a paper towel and your ready to roll.

extra virgin olive oil

The kids were shocked when I hinted at the idea of a pizza without tomato sauce. Their facial expressions were absolutely priceless. And although not many chose to forgo the traditional red sauce, I feel like those that did may have a bright culinary future ahead of them!

Lemon-Infused Goat Ricotta White Pizza With Sliced Zucchini

Lemon, Goat Ricotta & Zucchini Pizza

makes 1 large pizza


  • 24 oz. pizza dough
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb goat milk ricotta
  • zest of 1-2 lemons
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Zest the lemon(s) and stir the zest into the goat ricotta
  2. Thinly slice the zucchini (preferably with a mandoline), fan out on a plate, season with salt and pepper, and cover with a paper towel to soak up some of the moisture.
  3. Stretch pizza dough to approx 1/8″ thickness – this pizza is better thin than thick – and brush a thin coat of olive oil over the top.
  4. Spread the goat cheese mixture over the top and top with the thin slices of zucchini.
  5. Preferably bake on a hot (550 degrees F) pizza stone for 5-7 minutes or until the crust gets golden brown.


This is why everyone should invest in a pizza stone:

perfectly crispy crust

18 thoughts on “A world outside of mozzarella & pepperoni

  1. Dear Tony, two things in your blogg differ from the other cooking bloggs, first you have an HALABI taste, second,your recipes are for males,
    I like your posts
    thank you

  2. Really, simplicity is overrated nowadays. I’d take this over a meat-slathered, oil-dripping version any day! (Not that I have anything against meat.)

  3. I’m always pumped about pizzas that aren’t the same old boring tomato sauce ones. Ever find that people get a bit carried away with the toppings too?

    That’s why this one rocks. Simple, with a handful of ingredients. I’m a kid again for this dude.

  4. Ahlen tony!

    I loved your thoughts for the kids!You DO seem like the perfect person to do such things with kids,you have this amazing talent of making everything look like fun already..Im sure they (and you)had lots of fun..!

    This is a lovely version on the Pizza!

  5. You did such a great thing with those kids! Yes, we definitely need to start early in introducing kids to the right food — right meaning healthy AND delicious 🙂 And that pizza sure does look delicious!

    Agree 100% about the pizza stone! Even for baking bread…always makes a wonderful crust 🙂

  6. Oh my gosh, what fun! That’s one lesson I would love to sit in on, too, and I know how to make pizza already!

  7. This is awesome, the best part being the lemon zest in it. I love it! Having 2 small kids myself, i know what u r talking about, but it is about time they learn that food can taste good & be healthy too:) these days my 3 yr old is going thu’ the phase where before the first bite she asks, if it is healthy…

    the schools should call more people like u!

  8. Hey Tony–

    Can’t wait to try this with my son. Lemon and ricotta always a delightful combination.

    One of the things I remember standing in awe of, was my grandmother’s Wacky Cake. The vinegar in the batter sent me over the edge, and my six-year old mind thought she was crazy. However, it has remained ensconced in my recipe collection for all time. I featured it on Mother’s Day, and feel as though I am passing the wonder of cooking alchemy down to my son with each cake.

    Thanks for inspiring the love of the kitchen with the next generation.
    Happy 4th!

  9. The pizza looks incredible. Have you tried making a wheat crust? I’m curious how it would turn out.

  10. That looks absolutely delicious. I love pizza with different toppings … The zucchini and goat ricotta make for a great, light summer pizza.

  11. dear tony-tahhan.
    here my love for all yore amze recipe also for a magnificent aloving site blog the blog!
    here i say i can learn from you more and more and i mmasayfor me for many yot give the a inspiration for your amaze recipe food… for all now for me as ann can say here we have one big a d,c chef….

  12. for you a big chef! cer ami ..
    here i’m very sorry for my writ cos, i ffl bad. but just to see your site a blog yes a givee live a god live.
    and good to be here to lrean from a loving work again we i say a find a md, for amaze recipe your recipe.

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