Friday, December 27, 2013

Chebe Sausage & Spinach Pizza

Back in June, I wrote a blog post called Pizza Experiments about our adventures in making pizza with Chebe.  I am ridiculously fussy about gluten free pizza.  I have eaten it at restaurants all over this country and always wonder why I bother, because I almost always dislike the crust.  As far as frozen pizza goes, the only one I like is Against the Grain Pesto Pizza.  Some day, I hope to find a restaurant that makes consistently good gluten free pizza.  Thankfully, I have found a great pizza that we can make at home without worries of cross contamination.  It also happens to be amazingly good.  It is, by far, the best pizza I have had since my celiac diagnosis, 5 1/2 years ago.  

The key ingredients for all of our Chebe pizzas are Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix and Organic Valley Mild Cheddar Cheese.  We tried the Chebe Pizza Crust Mix, but weren't crazy about the seasonings in it, so we make our pizzas with the Cheese Bread Mix instead.  I purchase it from amazon or Chamberlin's in Winter Park. 

I have made spinach and sausage pizza with jalapeno pork sausage from the meat counter at Whole Foods, but they don't always make it.  A good option is Jimmy Dean Regular Premium Pork Sausage, which is marked gluten free, and sold locally at Publix.  I always have extra when I use this one pound package, but my kids usually scarf it down while the pizza is cooking.  

We love our cast iron pizza pan.  If you don't own one, it is worth the investment.  We tried making Chebe pizza on an aluminum pizza pan and the crust did not crisp up.  Lodge cast iron pizza pans are available from amazon for a very reasonable price.  You can view them here.  We clean our cast iron pizza pan with a rub of salt and water, then season it with a little bit of oil before putting it away.  I store all my cast iron pieces in the warming drawer of my oven, so I don't have to worry about getting oil in my cabinets.  

My new favorite mozzarella cheese to make pizza with is Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella Pearls, because I don't have to slice them, and it's easy to sprinkle them around the pizza.

I cook my sausage on medium heat in a frying pan, then put it on a plate with paper towels to remove some of the grease.  

When using fresh mozzarella on a pizza, it is important to remove some of the moisture before baking, by placing it between two paper towels for at least 15 minutes.  

On the back of the Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix box, it says you will need 2T oil, 1 C of shredded cheese, 2 large eggs, and 1/4 C water.  I pack my Organic Valley Mild Cheddar Cheese into my 1 C measuring cup.  When I let go, it looks like it is overflowing.  

I like to beat my eggs in a large bowl, then add the cheese and 2 T of extra virgin olive oil.  I then mix these ingredients well with a fork.  

Next, I slowly add the Original Cheese Break Mix to the bowl, and stir it with a soup spoon

Here is what my pizza dough looks like after I stir in 1/4 C of water.  

I knead it before placing it on my lightly oil pizza pan.  Even though our pan is always seasoned with olive oil before we put it away, I add a little more and gently wipe it with a paper towel before adding my pizza dough.  

With my hands, I evenly spread the dough out on my pizza pan.  

I par bake my crust on the bottom shelf of my preheated oven on 450 degrees for 12 minutes.  It usually comes out with several large bubbles, which I flatten with the back of a fork before adding my toppings.  We have tried pricking it with a fork before par baking it, but the bubbles still happen anyway.

I brush the par baked crust with a mix of 1 1/2 T of olive oil and one large clove of minced garlic (heaping 1/2 tsp) before adding a single layer of fresh baby spinach.  

I then sprinkle on a generous amount of sausage before adding the mozzarella balls, Parmesan, Romano, and Feta cheese.

I bake my pizza with toppings for 11 minutes on 450 degrees in the bottom 1/3 of my oven.  I then move it to the top shelf  to cook under the broiler for a minute or two until the cheese is perfectly browned.  We then slide it on to a large platter or our aluminum pizza pan to slice and serve.

Last week, we had two pieces left over from dinner.  My daughter Katie and I ate them for lunch the next day.  I love this pizza warm, right out of the oven, but I think I like it even better cold, right out of the fridge.  Katie loved it too!

Chebe Spinach & Sausage Pizza


1 box of Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix
2 T olive oil
1 C shredded cheese (sharp or hard works best) - firmly packed
2 large eggs
1/4 C water

3/4 to 1 pound of sausage (remove from casing if necessary)
1 1/2 T olive oil plus more for rubbing on your pizza pan
1 large clove of garlic (heaping 1/2 tsp) - minced
fresh baby spinach
8 ounce package of fresh mozzarella
Parmesan and/or Romano - grated
Feta crumbles
Optional - coarse ground black pepper


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and lightly oil your pizza pan.

Cook your sausage in a frying pan on medium heat until it is no longer pink.  While the sausage is cooking, place your mozzarella between two paper towels to remove moisture.  When your sausage is done, place it on a plate covered with paper towels to soak up some of the grease.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs before adding the shredded cheese and 2 T of olive oil.  Mix well with a fork, then slowly add the Chebe Original Cheese Break mix.  Stir well with a spoon before adding 1/4 C of water.  Mix as well as you can with a spoon, then knead the dough until smooth with your hands.

Place the pizza dough on an oiled 14 inch cast iron pizza pan and spread it out evenly with your hands.

Par bake the crust on a shelf in the bottom third of your oven for 12 minutes.  Flatten out any bubbles with the back of a fork before adding toppings.

Mix the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl, and brush it on your pizza.  Add a single layer of spinach before sprinkling on a generous amount of sausage.  Finally, add the mozzarella, and an even sprinkle of Parmesan, Romano, and Feta cheese.  Optional -- add a light sprinkle of black pepper.

Bake for another 11 minutes on the bottom shelf before moving the pizza to the top third of your oven and turning it to broil.  Broil for a minute or two until the cheese is bubbly and perfectly browned.

Loosen your pizza from the pan with a large spatula before carefully sliding it onto a serving platter to slice and serve.

Recipe Notes

You can view other Chebe pizza ideas in my Pizza Experiments blog post here.

The package states that Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix is free of gluten, soy, corn, rice, potato, yeast, peanut/tree nuts, egg, iodine, and sugar.  It is certified gluten free and non GMO.  It contains manioc (tapioca) flour, modified manioc starch, dry milk, and iodine-free sea salt, making it grain free as well.

We buy our Feta crumbles, Romano, and Parmesan in the cheese section of Whole Foods.  I purchase Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella Pearls from Publix.

For more information on Chebe and where it can be purchased, you can visit Chebe's website here

February 20, 2014 Update -- Tonight, I used a little less sausage and added some coarse ground black pepper.  My husband and I both thought it was the best spinach & sausage pizza I have ever made.  Sometimes less is more.  :-)


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