Grilled Pizza: Quick, Easy, and Healthy
Terry Conlan, the chef at the Lake Austin Spa, turned me onto a new way to make pizza that is not only quick and easy, but better for you than traditional pizza. It’s also family friendly because everyone can have their own personal pizza with their favorite toppings.
Terry’s secret is to use thin pita bread in place of pizza crust. Pita bread can be had in fat-free and whole wheat varieties, and it is far easier to pull a piece of pita out of a package than to make pizza dough from scratch (although that can be fun when you have the time). Pita bread also freezes well and thaws quickly, so you can keep it on hand for an easy week-night dinner or even a quick snack. Need to clean out your refrigerator or pantry? Make a new kind of pizza with what you have on hand.
Making a grilled pita pizza is pretty simple:
- Spray one side of a pita with cooking spray and place spray-side down on a plate or baking sheet. This helps prevent the pizza from sticking to the grill.
- Layer your favorite sauce and toppings onto the pita. Be sure to leave a ½ inch or so border of the pita un-topped so your goodies don’t drip or otherwise find their way onto your grill. Also, don’t pile the pizza too high. Your pita will crisp up long before your cheese melts and your toppings heat through if you are too top-heavy.
- Put the pita onto a warm (not flaming hot) grill.
- Grill until the pita is crispy and the toppings warm and melted, about 5-6 minutes. Pay attention, your pizza will go from crisp to burned in no time flat.
This technique also works in the oven. Instead of grilling your pizza, pile the toppings on and bake in a 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. If you have a grill pan or indoor grill on your stove, you can mark one side of the pita to get those great grill marks, then pile toppings onto the non-marked side and finish the pizza in the oven.
Weight Watchers™ Points-Friendly Pizza
My favorite version of this pizza calculates as 9 points in the official Weight Watcher’s calculator, but it’s a meal in itself. Half of the pizza is 4 points so if 9 points is more than you’d like to spend for a meal, split the pizza with another like-minded pizza eater and have a 2 point salad as a side. I top my pizza with:
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. dried italian herbs or any fresh herbs like rosemary and basil that are available
- 1 oz. soft goat cheese
- 1 c. raw spinach
- 1 oz. prosciutto
- 1/3 c. canned crushed pinapple
Other Topping Ideas
The sky is pretty much the limit for what you might put on your pizza. Some we’ve tried at our house are:
- Traditional pepperoni and Italian sausage with a tomato sauce.
- Ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino romano topped with fresh pesto.
- Pineapple and pancetta with a tomato sauce.
For this technique to work, the pita bread must be very thin. It produces a very crisp crust and cooks very quickly. Thin pitas are typically larger than thicker ones, so they make for a nicer serving size. Thick pitas will be more bready than you probably want for your crust and will most likely burn on the grill before they heat all of the way through. In the
Central Texas area the best choice is pita from the local Phoenicia Bakery.
The toppings on the pita will only be heated, not cooked through, so be sure to pre-cook any toppings that would otherwise need to be cooked - say Italian sausage for example.
Be sure to scrape your grill grate well with a grill brush before you cook your pizza. If your grill supports a two-level fire, either via piles of charcoal or multiple gas burners, your best bet is to cook your pitas on the cool side of the grill and use the hot side to generate the heat.
Pizza for a Crowd
I am convinced this is the best possible way to make pizza for a crowd. You can prep a whole collection of different pizzas to cook quickly and serve as appetizers for a party. A “Make Your Own Pizza” dinner would be fun too. Put out a whole slew of toppings and sauces. Each guest can create their own pizza masterpiece and you can grill them up in no time flat. I plan to have such a party before the summer is over and will post about it, with pictures of my guest’s creations. I may even give away prizes for the best pizza.