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Grilled Margherita Pizza

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So, pizza. Grilled Pizza.

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As much as I enjoy eating healthy foods there seems to be a soft spot in my heart for pizza. Homemade pizza was a Sunday tradition when I was growing up. There’s still something about eating pizza on a Sunday that just feels so comforting!

To keep things homemade, I spent months and months of Sundays testing out gluten free pizza dough recipes until I found one I was happy with (you can find that recipe here). A bit more testing later, I was able to easily adapt this recipe for grilled pizza.

Gluten-Free-Grilled-Margherita-Pizza-Slice

Many people have heard of grilled pizza before, but if you haven’t tried it you are in for a treat! It is actually much quicker to grill pizza than to bake it in the oven, but your grilled pizza still has all the same elements of a good pizza:  crispy crust, melty cheese, and loads of your favorite toppings. Grilled pizzas tend to be more free form in shape, too. The cooking technique is obviously a bit different for making pizza on the grill versus in the oven. Since the whole cooking process happens so fast on the grill I’ve noticed that less complex pizzas with fewer toppings are easier to manage. With only a couple toppings, a margherita pizza is perfect for grilling, especially if you are new to the process.

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Even though we have been grilling pizzas for a while now, the simple toppings on a margherita pizza always hit the spot. Tomato sauce and cheese are nearly a requirement for any pizza (except white pizzas, but that will have to be another post for another day). The fresh basil steals the show here. I tend to add about 2 tablespoons per pizza, but if your garden is overflowing with basil like ours is than you may want to add even more. For an extra bit of flavor I season the pizza dough with garlic. Tomato, basil, garlic, mozzarella? So many delicious flavors in that short list!

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As far as actually grilling the pizza, the process is simple. The one and only important key to grilling pizza with this particular dough is to start with chilled dough. I like to shape my dough onto a silpat mat and then stick it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. The dough is naturally sticky, but it becomes much, much easier to work with when it is cold. Spray the chilled dough with olive oil spray (or other cooking spray) and lay it on the hot grill.

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Cover the grill and let the pizza sit undisturbed for a few minutes. Just a few. Then, check the underside of the dough to see if it is done. You want the dough to be crisp on the bottom, with grill lines, but not burnt (Unless you are one of those people, like my mom, who enjoys somewhat burnt food)! When the bottom is done, just flip the dough over.

Checking-Pizza-Doneness

Now is that part where you will need to work fast. Add the toppings. I like to do tomato sauce, followed by a sprinkling of cheese and then topped with fresh basil. As you can see from these photos, my husband choose to add his toppings in a very unique order.

Adding-Pizza-Toppings

Topping order, your choice. Like I said, the most important thing is to do this quickly. You don’t want to take so long adding your toppings that the bottom of the pizza burns before you’ve finished! Once the toppings are on cover the grill again, just for a moment. When the cheese has melted the pizza is ready to cut and serve!

Gluten-Free-Grilled-Pizza-Square

Gluten Free Grilled Margherita Pizza

This recipes will make one medium sized pizza that will serve two people. You can also split the pizza dough in half to make two personal sized pizzas.
 
Pizza Dough Ingredients
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 c hot tap water
  • 1 Tbs dry active yeast
  • 1/2 c white rice flour
  • 1/4 c brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c tapioca starch
  • 1/4 c potato starch
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp gelatin powder
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Other Ingredients
  • cooking spray (I use olive oil spray)
  • garlic powder
  • 1/4 c pizza sauce (the generic kind at my grocery store is GF, read the label to be sure yours is, too!)
  • 2/3 c to 3/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh basil
Directions
  1. Stir the sugar and yeast into the tap water. Let the mixture sit for 5 – 10 to proof. It will get bubbly and expand.
  2. While the yeast is proofing, combine all of the remaining dough ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Add in the yeast and mix until the dough forms a ball. If using a stand mixer, use medium speed.
  4. Put the pizza dough on a silpat, mat, piece of parchment paper, or wax paper, and use your hands to shape into a circle, about half an inch thick. If the dough is sticky run your hands under cold water and then go back to shaping it without drying your hands completely. Lay the shaped dough in the refrigerator to chill.
  5. While the dough is chilling, light the grill and let it get to a high heat level. Take some time to bring all of your toppings, and any plates or utensils you will be using out to the grill.
  6. Gently loosen the pizza dough off of the silpat/parchment paper/wax paper. It may be a bit sticky and not come off in exactly the shape you pressed it into, but will be close enough. Spray one side of the pizza dough with the cooking spray, and sprinkle on some garlic salt (I shake it on directly from the bottle). Spray the grilling surface with cooking spray, and lay the oiled side of the pizza onto the just oiled grilled. The un-oiled side should now be facing up on the grill. Give this a quick spray with the cooking spray, and another shake of garlic powder.
  7. Shut the grill lid. Check on the pizza every minute or so by gently lifting up a side to see if the bottom is cooked.
  8. When the bottom of the pizza is crisp and has brown grill lines flip the pizza using a spatula.
  9. Now add the toppings, somewhat quickly. Spread the pizza sauce evenly across the pizza. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella on top of that, followed the by the fresh basil. Shut the grill lid once you are done.
  10. Again, check the pizza every minute or so. The pizza is done once the cheese has melted and the bottom has dark grill lines.
  11. Cut into slices and serve hot.

 

 

 

 

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Pizza Burgers

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This isn’t the first fancy burger recipe I’ve posted, and it certainly won’t be the last. I just love making hamburgers more interesting! Made with lean ground turkey and just a tablespoon of cheese per serving, this is a healthier (and more unique) way to enjoy the traditional flavors of pizza!

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The idea for these Pizza Burgers came from a dish at my college cafeteria, also called (no surprise here) Pizza Burgers. There was always a hamburger/hot dog station in the cafeteria, but once a week or so they’d have Pizza Burgers on the menu. There wasn’t much special about these burgers. The cafeteria worker would take a regular cheese burger, put in on a bun, and dump some tomato sauce on before adding the top half of the bun. It must have been a student favorite, because the Pizza Burgers were on the menu at least one a week!

My Pizza Burgers are a bit different. I had the idea to recreate this college cafeteria recipe because I really wanted a healthier way to enjoy pizza. There are tons of healthier pizza alternatives out there! Cauliflower crusts, zucchini crusts, and plenty of pizzas full of veggies, but making any pizza crust takes work. Even cooking lovers and food bloggers sometimes get tired of being in the kitchen! A turkey burger comes together much more quickly than a pizza crust!

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To make the burgers, I seasoned ground turkey with some traditional Italian/pizza flavors – garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, and some Penzey’s Frozen Pizza Seasoning. Just a little bit of seasoning goes a long way! The burgers had a gentle herb-y flavor, enough to notice, but not overpowering. To keep turkey burgers moist I always use caramelized onions in my hamburger mixes. The onion adds flavor and keeps the burger from getting dried out. Towards the end of the grilling time, I add a bit of mozzarella cheese to the top of each of the burgers, and to really finish out the pizza flavor I top each finished burger with tomato sauce. I can’t claim something with melted cheese is 100% healthy, but with just a tablespoon of cheese for each serving, this absolutely counts as enjoying something in moderation.

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Feel free to add any of your favorite pizza toppings to these Pizza Burgers. I add some chopped turkey pepperoni to mine. I served these burgers with sauteed kale. I’m sure with all the flavors and toppings you won’t miss the hamburger bun, but serving Pizza Burgers with hamburger buns is also an option. This meal is easily made portionally gluten free by having both GF and wheat hamburger buns available. Just be sure to serve ALL of your GF burgers before even getting out the wheat buns (click here for additional PGF precautions)!

Pizza-Burgers-Sauce

Pizza Burgers

Makes 4 -6 burgers.
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp Penzey’s Frozen Pizza Seasoning (or any Italian herb seasoning you have on hand)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c tomato sauce (any flavor/variety you like, just check the ingredient label to make sure it is gluten free)
  • optional: any other traditional pizza toppings
Directions
  1. Add the olive oil to a small skillet and turn heat to medium. When the oil is warm, add the onion to the skillet and stir to coat with oil. Continue cooking the onion, stirring frequently, until it softens and turns light brown in color. This takes any where from 10 – 20 minutes, depending on how much onion is in the pan, different stovetops, etc. When the onion is cooked, move it to a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the ground turkey, pizza seasoning, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper flakes to the mixing bowl and combine all the ingredients together.
  3. Divide the mixture into 4 to 6 even sections, and form each section into a patty (I prefer 6 smaller patties, but make whatever size you’d like).
  4. Put each of the hamburger patties onto a grill, over medium/high, direct heat. Grill for about 12 – 15 minutes, or as long as it takes for the internal temperature of each hamburger to reaches 165° F.
  5. When the burgers have cooked through, sprinkle a bit of the mozzarella onto the top of each patty and leave them on the grill for another minute or two, to let the cheese melt.
  6. To serve, to each hamburger with 1 to 2 tablespoons on tomato sauce, and any additional toppings. Place on a hamburger bun if desired. If serving GF and regular hamburgers, be sure to make ALL GF burgers before making any burgers using wheat buns, to avoid cross contamination.

P.S. This post is linked to the Gluten Free Carnival at Gluten Free Homemaker. Check it out here!

Restaurant Report: WV, TN, NC

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We recently took a somewhat spur-of-the-moment road trip, trying to check off some more states from our list of the ones we haven’t visited yet. Traveling with a restricted diet can be a bit nerve-wracking, with eating out at so many unknown places. On the flip side, visiting a new place gives you the opportunity to eat at GF restaurants you wouldn’t have the opportunity to try in your hometown! This trip had some great finds, and some not so great finds. Here’s my thoughts on the restaurants we ate at:

Pies ‘n Pints

Fayetteville, WV

Fayetteville, WV doesn’t sound that awesome. I mean, have you ever heard of it?! The last time we were in WV we stayed in a cabin in a state park and didn’t have cell phone reception within a half hour of the park. I didn’t have high hopes for good GF awareness where cell phones can’t be used! In fact, we hadn’t even intended to stay in Fayetteville, but on Priceline the hotels there were much cheaper than our original destination. We’re adventurers, so we decided to change our plans and stop in Fayetteville.

After exploring Raven Rock State Park, in NC, we drove to Fayetteville and were checking into our hotel around 9:15pm. I’m famished, at this point. My husband probably is too. He strikes up a conversation with the woman who is checking us in and asks if she’s heard of gluten free and if she knows of any GF friendly restaurants in the area. It turns out she had a celiac nephew, and recommended a place called Pies ‘n Pints as the best GF dining in the area. I’m thinking “Pie. I want dinner, not dessert”, but I quickly realized this is a pizza pie restaurant. Now, in general, I feel that most GF pizza is “blah” at best, but I was tired and hungry, and it was literally 3 minutes away.

So we arrive at Pies ‘n Pints, which is actually a really neat looking place. It has brightly colored walls, and lots of architectural elements. There’s a TV playing sports and another playing a black and white movie. We get seated right away and the waitress quickly comes to the table. When I ask her about the GF options I was pleasantly surprised to find out that nearly all of the pizzas could be made GF, they had GF bread for the sandwiches, even the chicken wings were gluten free! I believe they also have GF beer, but I hate carbonated beverages, so I didn’t take much notice of that.

I ordered a Margherita Pie and Husband settled on the Cuban Pork Pie. After waiting about half an hour after our order was placed I started complaining about the wait time. I was hungry (still), and the restaurant was not that full. Husband mentioned that the menu had a statement saying something along the lines of “It takes a little longer to make our pizzas than traditional pizzas, but we think that the wait is worth it”. We decide to give them the benefit of the doubt. A few minutes later our pizza comes out. Have I mentioned that I was hungry? My pizza is a little rectangle and the toppings are all the way to the edge of the crust.

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I took my first bite and it was DELICIOUS. Unlike, every other gluten free pizza I have ever had, the crust was soft, spongy, moist, but not overly doughy. If it didn’t clearly look different than Husband’s round pizza, I would have thought I was eating a wheat crust. Beyond the crust, just the simple toppings on my pizza were delicious. The tomato sauce was smooth and the perfect blend of sweet and tangy. The fresh basil on top, was done perfectly, too; not crunchy and dried out. Needless to say, I at the whole thing. Husband ate his entire pizza, too. When I talked to the waitress at the end of the meal she mentioned the crusts come frozen, and they treat all of their doughs with some kind of oil. Whatever they do, they are doing it right. According to their website, Pies n’ Pints has 3 locations in WV and OH. If you are nearby, check them out! Next time, I’m totally trying the wings next time!

Bombasha

Nashville TN

Since I knew we would be in Nashville during this read trip I checked out Groupon to see if there was any deal for restaurants with GF options. We found Bombasha, a Brazilian Steakhouse. We’d previously been to Tucanos in VA, another Brazilian Steakhouse and loved it (great food and great labeling of many allergens), so we wanted to try another. Bombasha was very fancy; definitely a “date night” type of restaurant.  The entire staff was wearing black and white, there were fancy table clothes and candles, etc. We got a few items from the salad bar before the meat and sides started to be delivered to our table. It turned out that of the 12 different types of meat, only about half were actually gluten free. I got to try all but one of those safe items, and honestly they were not that good. A few had good flavor (I enjoyed the parmesan crusted and top sirloin), but for the most part the meat was dry. That would have been disappointing for the $20/meal we paid with the groupon, let alone the $40/ meal it would have been without. The sides were fried yucca, fried bananas, and mashed potatoes, which we really enjoyed. The friend yucca unusual, but tasty, almost like french fries. The bananas were very sweet and dessert-like. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend Bombasha for GF dining or dining in general. Definitely try a Brazilian steakhouse sometime, if you have’t yet.

Pfunky Griddle

Nashville, TN

Even though our groupon experience with Bombasha was poor, we decided to use have another try with groupon for breakfast at a place called Pfunky Griddle. We arrived shortly after 8am, which turned out to be great, since the restaurant started to fill up shortly after we arrived. The decor in this place was super fun. The restaurant building is a remolded house. Each room had a different, colorful, mural of an outdoors scene. The windows were even painted. It was bright and colorful. Ironically, we were seated in a room with wheat fields painted on the walls! The music playing throughout the restaurant was all upbeat oldies. It just seemed like a fun place right when you walked in!

Pfunky Griddle does for pancakes what the Melting Pot does for fondue. Each table has a large griddle in the center. You order pancake batter and toppings and prepare your own on the griddle right in front of you. They offer 3 types of pancake batter, one being a GF batter, and even will bring out a dedicated GF griddle. You pay $6 for unlimited batter and 99cents for small cups of toppings. Although the GF pancakes ended up dry, the experience was fun. The griddle was big enough that I had half for my GF batter and Husband used the other half for his normal pancakes and there was a large buffer zone. Experimenting with all the different toppings and not worrying about having to clean up the mess afterwards was a nice treat. The cost was affordable, and the coffee was great, too! I left feeling quite full. If/when we are in Nashville we will definitely stop here again.

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Mellow Mushroom

Hickory, NC

I usually go for trying small, local restaurants when I’m traveling, but in Hickory NC we ended up at Mellow Mushroom. This was not the goal. Our plan was actually to go to an authentic sounding German restaurant which was also listed as “GF friendly” on UrbanSpoon. When we got there, looked at the menu, and the restaurant owner told me that the sausage cooked in beer was GF, I was immediately concerned. Not surprisingly, we left. We ventured through the town (city?) of Hickory looking for a cafe a woman at the hotel had recommended to us, which was quite an adventure. We stopped and asked a cop for directions, but what he gave us the was wrong. On the way there were called another restaurant I had found on UrbanSpoon, asking about their “GF friendly” options, and the man who answered the phone said he didn’t know what that was listed and the restaurant didn’t actually have anything to offer me. At this point we’d been driving for a while and needed to eat. We remembered driving past a Mellow Mushroom, so we navigated back there. There was some live music going on and the restaurant was nearly empty (it was 9pm). We waited 45 minutes for our pizzas. I’ve had Mellow Mushroom pizza before, and, like I said earlier, it fits into the same “blah” category that the vast majority of other GF pizzas fit into. It’s also overpriced, in my opinion. But, at least we got food. We got back tot he hotel late, to find out that bathroom light didn’t work, and the bathroom door also ran into the toilet instead of shutting. And this was supposed to be a 3 star hotel? Not a positive experience in Hickory, NC.

Waffle House

Hickory, NC

Before starting the drive back home we stopped at a Waffle House across the street from the hotel for breakfast. Waffle House sounds scary for a celiac, but I’ve found it to be quite safe. When I explain what I need the servers are usually happy to oblige. The best part is, You can see them making the food so you know if they mess it up! I order eggs and hashbrowns. So greasy, but so tasty. Waffle House is not my idea of really great food, but every one in a while it’s a good splurge, and it’s relatively inexpensive. They seem to be all over the place down in this area of the country so it’s a good place to keep in mind if you are having trouble finding gluten free in a city.

For other meals on the road trip we did things simply. I carried around instant grits and made them using the hot water from hotel coffee machines. Lunch is usually tuna fish and GF crackers. Plus, there are always lots of snacks in the car on road trips!

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