This month for Better Good Things (on the Third Thursday… because Evin loves alliteration!) Evin, the mama in charge at Food Good Laundry Bad, and I decided to tackle a recipe that makes its rounds pretty frequently on Pinterest and holds a place near and dear to my heart. Sometimes it’s called “veggie pizza”… sometimes “veggie bars”… but it always shares some commonalities- ranch dressing, mayo, and icky supermarket crescent rolls.
When I was little, my mom used to make this as one of her go-to potluck appetizer recipes. It was oh-so yummy and stands as a fabulous nostalgia food for me but- despite the veggie variety on top (my mama used to do stripes of diced carrot, cauliflower, on broccoli)- it’s been a no-no in our house given the traditionally super-processed base ingredients. Which means this one was destined for a makeover…
At first glance, it probably seems like the first thing to go should be the canister of crescent roll dough- I know that is the first thing Evin axed on her end- and that was my plan as well (because homemade crescent roll dough does sound like a fun baking adventure) until I happened on a serendipitous discovery… my favorite “cheat” brand of ready to bake goods -Immaculate Baking- makes crescent roll dough. The best part is that a roll of Immaculate crescent roll dough is only $4.95 at Whole Foods making it $0.05 less than the $5 cap for specialty ingredients that Evin and I set for Better Good Things. The grocery gods are smiling upon me!
For the most part, the rolls of crescent roll dough you purchase at the supermarket contain soy (tons and TONS of soy), red 40 (which has suspected links to cancer, ADHD, and allergies/irritants), and tertiary butylhydroquinone- a form of butane used as a preservative with links to tinnitus, asthma, ADHD, nausea, stomach cancers, and interruption to estrogen levels in women. No biggie, right? My lovely friends at Immaculate Baking leave out all of those nasties! And just to be clear, they’re not really my friends… they just make a great product that is a better choice for my family. Which makes them feel like family! Full disclosure… this product does contain canola oil which is not my favorite choice, but here and there I excuse it in the name of brief and infrequent convenience. And because I had a stomach virus last week which morphed into a cold this week and I just can’t imagine having to work through the rise and rest periods for yeast dough at this moment!
But if you’re standing firm on no canola oil (because you probably should), check out Evin’s Real Food Veggie Pizza that totally boycotts dough-in-can…
Regardless of your crust choice, jump on board with me for my ranch dressing better choice- In place of the usual ranch dressing topping (soybean oil, phosphoric acid- lowers bone density, calcium disodium EDTA- can cause kidney damage…) I opted for a kale pesto-esque spread made with cream cheese. Want to keep it vegan? Forgo the cheese; up the kale content; and add some olive oil, nuts, nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt!
Instead of doing my mama’s standard veggie stripes so beloved from my childhood, I tossed the veggies together so that no one has to miss out on any goodness. The purple cauliflower? A total essential in our house! Not only does it look simply gorgeous, but it is also a surefire way to get my little girly girl to down veggies on even the pickiest toddler days! (Need a go to girly snack? Pink hummus dyed with beet juice served with purple cauliflower for the win!)
If you’re like me and have a fridge stuffed with veggie leftovers that constantly need using, having a roll of family friendly crescent roll dough on hand could help you create and easy meal out of those leftovers by customizing the toppings. Even better- it’s one of those meals that feels like an art project for little hands which can be a huge lifesaver on fridge cleanup day.
Sometimes playing with your food is such a good decision!
Colorful Veggie Bars
(In the pictures above, I reduced my recipe by half to make a manageable size for just us three… the recipe I’ve included here will make an entire jelly roll pan worth which is perfect for take along snacks for your next playdate or extended family game night… or just a bigger family in general!)
- 2 rolls of Immaculate Baking crescent rolls
- 8 oz organic cream cheese
- 6 oz parmesan cheese
- about a half a bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn into small pieces
- 2 tbs plain kefir
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 cup purple cauliflower florets
- 1 1/2 cup broccoli slaw
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 yellow bell pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Roll the crescent roll dough out to cover the pan and press seams together. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the kale and garlic together they form a paste. Add cream cheese, parmesan, and kefir and pulse to an even, spreadable consistency. Spread kale mixture on the cooled crescent roll base.
Finely dice the cauliflower, tomatoes, and bell pepper. Toss with the broccoli slaw and sprinkle evenly across the kale spread, pressing lightly into the spread to keep in place.
Slice with a pizza slicer and serve immediately. Or store in refrigerator in layers separated by parchment.