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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

A Round Of Applause For Vegetarian Pizza

Volunteers are the unsung heroes of just about every aspect of life, as they give so generously of their time and love.

The cast and crew of the fantastic productions at Manoa Valley Theatre are doing it for the love of theatre, so all of your favorite players are volunteers, giving of their time generously so that their audiences can enjoy six world-class shows every season.

One of these busy actors is Alison Aldcroft, a physical therapist at Ohana Pacific Rehab Services in Honolulu, who plays Diana Goodman in the upcoming Next to Normal, opening March 7. Her character is a demanding one to play: a woman suffering from bipolar disorder struggling to live a normal life with her family.

We all can relate to the challenges of managing difficult lives and schedules, which is why Alison has shared this healthy and quick dish inspired by her vegetarian daughter, now off at college. Alison and husband Martin are experimenting with vegetarian fare as a New Year’s resolution, and are happy to share one of their most recent finds with you.

Thanks to Alison and all of the wonderful people who do so much for us by volunteering!

A variety of squash, zucchini is thought to have originated in Italy. Most varieties of squash are classified as summer or winter, depending on their storage life. Summer squash cannot be stored for very long, whereas winter squash has a longer shelf life.

Zucchini has a cream-colored flesh that is actually quite bland; the most flavorful zucchini are 6-8 inches long.

When purchasing, look for firm, unblemished zucchini with glossy skin. If the zucchini has spots avoid purchasing, as it has been exposed to cold.

To store, place in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator, where they should keep for about a week. Do not wash until just before use.

Zucchini also may be frozen: Cut into slices and blanch for two minutes. Once frozen, it will keep for about three months. Zucchini is an excellent source of potassium and vitamin A, and contains vitamin C, folic acid and copper.

RED ONION AND ZUCCHINI PIZZA

* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 package fast-acting/easy blend yeast
* 2 teaspoons salt
* lukewarm water, to mix for the topping
* 2 red onions, thinly sliced
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 2 zucchini, thinly sliced
* salt and freshly ground black pepper
* fresh nutmeg, grated
* 4 ounces semisoft goat cheese
* 6 sundried tomatoes in oil, snipped
* dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, yeast and salt, then mix with warm water to a firm dough. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic, then roll it out to a large circle and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Set aside somewhere warm to rise slightly while you make the topping.

Gently fry the onions in half the oil for five minutes, then add the zucchini and fry for another two minutes. Season and add nutmeg, to taste.

Spread the pizza base with the fried vegetable mixture and dot with cheese, tomatoes and oregano. Sprinkle with the rest of the olive oil and bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden and crisp.

Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program. heartychef@hotmail.com

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