Pizza through the years

My first experience with pizza was when I was a kid and these new pizza kits were in the supermarket. The kits contained a packet of yeast and a packet of flour. It also contained a can of pizza sauce with some little pieces of meat in it, a little packet with some herbs and a bigger packet with some cheese. The instructions called for you to mix the yeast with the flour mixture and some warm water, cover it and let it rise about 15 minutes in a warm place. Then you spread the dough out into the pan and let it rise again. When that process was done, you spread the sauce on it, sprinkled on the herbs and cheese and then baked it. I recall that the first time we had this type of pizza I wasn’t really that fond of it and it met with mixed reviews from the rest of my family as well.

Since that first experience with pizza, I have had it prepared and served many different ways. Of course there are a myriad of different kinds of frozen pizza, there are pizzas you can order and bake at home, there are deep dish pizzas, thin crust pizzas, stuffed crust pizzas and pizza buffets. You name it and they have it, depending on your taste preferences.

Because pizza is so versatile, it can accommodate many different taste preferences. It can also be a healthy choice (or a not so healthy choice) depending on the style you like. It can provide nutrients from all the major food groups and if you are mindful with your selections it can be lower in sodium, fat and carbs. Through the years my taste for pizza has turned toward thinner crusts and more vegetables and it is still a food that I enjoy.

As I was grocery shopping last week, my favorite demonstrator was providing samples of pizza. She was telling me how they have instructions available for how to grill pizza at home and I was telling her about my experience with wood-fired pizza when I was visiting my son in Seattle this past week. It seems that pizza keeps reinventing itself to new cooking techniques and tastes.

The pizza I had in Seattle was in a little downtown restaurant that had those cute little tables and chairs outside where you can sit when the weather is amenable and enjoy the sounds of the city and a sunny day. We had an interesting wood-fired pizza in this cozy setting and I enjoyed the thin crust, fresh mozzarella cheese and basil and must say that it was tasty, but the price made me think that I could probably do something equivalent at home for a lot less money!

Following is a recipe that I found for a pizza very similar to the one I had in Seattle last week. I can guarantee that it is cheaper than the one at the downtown cafe and tastes a lot better than the first pizza I ate as a kid. I just wonder how much more pizza will change during my lifetime and what the next new way to eat pizza will be!

Grilled Tomato/Basil Flatbread Pizza

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp minced fresh garlic

2 Naan flatbreads (9 inch each)

1 8 oz fresh mozzarella ball “pearls”

¼ tsp coarse ground black pepper

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thin

¼ cup fresh basil, torn

1 Tbsp balsamic glaze (optional)

Combine olive oil and garlic in a small dish. Brush mixture over one side of the Naan bread. Preheat the grill and grill the Naan bread (oiled side down) over indirect high heat for about two minutes. Remove from grill and put on a flat baking sheet, grilled side up.

Top the grilled Naan with the basil, pearls of mozzarella cheese, tomato slices and pepper.

Put the baking dish with the flatbread pizzas onto the grill. Grill covered, over indirect heat about 8-10 minutes, or until cheese starts to melt and edges are golden. Drizzle with balsamic glaze (if desired).

Cut into wedges and serve.

Yield: 2 flatbread pizzas

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.