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While we patiently await a summer of fresh tomatoes, we've partnered with Muir Glen Organic to share springy recipes that use one of our favorite weeknight mainstays: canned tomatoes.
Grilled flatbread pizzas sound fancy, look smart, and taste even better. They're easy to prep for in advance (and it's a perfect way to use up any vegetables on the brink of going bad), fun to top off as a group, and made to be eaten with hands. They can even get dressed up for the weekend, too, hanging out with the appetizers instead of making an appearance with other mains.
So what differentiates these from regular pizzas, you ask? Our Test Kitchen Manager Josh Cohen schooled me in his grilled pizza ways—and there are a couple of things that make them stand apart.
1. First things first: They're made with a different kind of dough.
Maybe that was obvious, but nonetheless, Josh suggests that making grilled flatbread is a good first stepping stone to real pizza dough. He says if you're the type of person who's intimidated by dough, this one will help you conquer your fears. It takes less time to prep, it's easy to stretch out (I find the resulting goofy shapes endearing), and the finished product has great texture. Josh likens it a flat cousin to focaccia, soft on the inside with a nice crisp bite on the outside when done right.
Our favorite flatbread dough, from resident baking queen Erin McDowell, can even be made ahead of time, frozen, and then defrosted for about 30 minutes on the day you'd like to cook it. One batch is enough for two larger pizzas or four smaller ones, although I'd suggest the smaller size if you are planning on making them indoors.
2. They're grilled—on a grill pan, or an actual grill.
Making grilled flatbread pizza, much like regular pizza dough, really toes the line on Not Recipe territory—it's a blank canvas, says Josh. To make your flatbread, follow these instructions on how to prepare the dough, taking time into consideration when planning (it takes 30 minutes to an hour for the dough to rise). If you're doing it on your stovetop, you'll need a really hot pan and a pair of tongs for turning. On the grill? Same story, and keep a close eye on the dough (it'll likely cook faster).
Once the dough has risen, shape and oil it, and grill it on both sides (about 3 to 4 minutes a piece) until it is fully cooked and nicely charred. That's when the toppings go on—more on that later—and, if cooking indoors, finish the pizza under the broiler. You'll want to watch the pizza carefully, broil for approximately two minutes or until the cheese has melted and the toppings look crispy. If you are using an outdoor grill for the whole process, just know you may get less crisp-up on the top without the use of a broiler.
3. Toppings, both raw and cooked, go on after the dough is cooked.
You wouldn't toss the ingredients right on the raw dough—it's quite wet—as you want to keep the integrity of flatbread texture. The good stuff goes on top after the dough has cooked. It's a great way to use up some of the leftovers lingering in your fridge (that means you, tiny Tupperware of cooked mushrooms, onions, or artichokes).
Since toppings go on after the dough is cooked, keep in mind that toppings needing more than a few minutes to cook, either vegetable or meat, should be prepared in advance. If your toppings are going to taste good barely cooked, and perhaps charred from a broiler, then you can add assemble them raw atop your flatbread (think tomatoes canned or fresh, leafy greens, bell peppers, cheese).
Ready to make your own? Try one of Josh's spring combinations, shown above from left to right:
- Diced tomatoes, dollops of ricotta, and sautéed green garlic
- Fire-roasted, crushed tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, asparagus, and ramps (bottoms sautéed, tops broiled)
- Crushed tomatoes, broccoli rabe (sautéed with garlic, chili, lemon), lamb sausage, and provolone
What are you topping your pies with these days, and would you use flatbread dough instead of pizza dough? Tell us in the comments below!
Muir Glen Organic's got variety going for it: Their flavorful, organic canned tomatoes come in almost any form you'd need, from crushed or diced to fire-roasted and dotted with basil. See all their products here.