The idea seems straightforward, adding salad to pizza, but owner of The Oaks Gourmet Market Greg Morris discovered firsthand the kind of lettuce used in the recipe makes a bigger difference than one might think when he first attempted to add a salad pizza at his now shuttered Oakfire Pizza. "We tried doing it in the traditional way of putting a salad on top of a pizza -- just any salad you wanted -- and saw that it'd get kind of wilt-y. It didn't quite work over there, so we just kind of shelved the idea," he says.
Recently Morris decided to revisit the idea at his gourmet market in Hollywood, due to increasing customer interest in foods that meet. "We've had so much response as far as people who have different styles of eating -- whether gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, or lactose-intolerant."
"We've tried different combinations, but they didn't quite blend well together. I'm a big fan of our Greek salad. We took that as a base and played around with that. We found that romaine lettuce worked a little better when the pizza's hot right out of the oven."
It took a week for Morris and his team to home in on a recipe that'd meet the standards of the self-professed pizza freak. "I've eaten it since I was a child. My parents would used tell me the story all the time about how they found out my mom was pregnant with me. At the time, they were living in Italy. One day while they were at the beach, my mom ate about 20 pizzettes sold from a cart, which to say the least was a big clue for my dad. I like to say that pizza's in my veins."
They tried various gluten-free doughs from different purveyors before finding the right one that bakes what Morris describes as "almost like a cracker bread." The pizza is now the number two best-selling item on the new menu item, debuting roughly two weeks ago.
"Nothing is pre-made. We do everything at the time. When people place an order, that's when we stretch the dough," says Morris.
Whereas the goal is to appease customer demand, Morris keeps a particular standard in mind when he looks into adding new items to the menu. "My wife's a vegetarian; she's an inspiration for a lot of the vegetarian dishes that we do on the menu. I tried to take that into the context of comfort food." When we asked, Morris named Veggie Grill and Crossroads as two restaurants that have done well in introducing better vegetarian fare.
Morris gave us the recipe for the Greek salad pizza, which includes a gluten-free pizza crust recipe.
Turn the page for the recipe...
The Oaks Gourmet Market's Greek Salad Pizza
From: Greg Morris of Oaks Gourmet Market
Yields: Two pizzas
Special equipment: Pizza stone or heavy baking sheet, parchment paper
Yields: 1 ½ cups
½ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1. Whisk both vinegars, minced garlic, dried thyme and grapeseed oil in a small bowl until well incorporated. Stir in chopped fresh parsley.
Caramelized Onion Sauce
Yields: 3 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 large sweet onions, sliced
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of water
1 teaspoon of salt
1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté onions for 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle salt onto onions, stir and reduce heat to low. Cook on low for 20 minutes or so, until onions are soft and golden brown. Make sure to stir every so often.
2. Mix onions with water and salt until a thin sauce is formed.
Yields: Two 9-inch pizzas
3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
3/4 cup tapioca flour
2 tablespoons dry buttermilk powder (substiute: 2 tablespoons dry powdered milk)
1 teaspoon agar-agar powder (substitute: 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 package active dry yeast granules
1 teaspoon sugar (substitute: 1/2 teaspoon honey or agave nectar)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar
½ cup lukewarm water
Extra tapioca flour
1. Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with gluten free cornmeal. If using a pizza stone place in the oven, preheat for at least 45 minutes.
2. Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed together. Add sugar or honey or agave nectar, vinegar, olive oil and gradually add water.
3. Mix on high speed for 3-4 minutes. Scrape the thick dough on to a large clean surface liberally sprinkled with tapioca flour.
4. Work enough tapioca flour into the dough so that it can be shaped into a large ball. With a large knife cut the dough in half to make two medium pizzas. Shape each piece into a circle making sure to sprinkle enough tapioca flour on the dough and the work surface to prevent it from sticking.
6. With a rolling pin shape the dough into thin circles. Carefully place one prepared pizza crust on baking sheet or pizza stone. Bake for about five minutes or until the dough is firm. [Note: This parbakes the dough; parbaked crusts can be cooled, wrapped and frozen, then use at your convenience.]
Greek Pizza Salad
A few tablespoons caramelized onion spread, depending on preference
A pinch dried oregano
½ cup shredded mozzarella
1 ½ cups chopped romaine lettuce
½ cup spinach leaves
1-2 Tablespoons sliced black olives
1 Roma tomato, diced
¼ cucumber, julienned
½ ounce feta cheese
Herb vinaigrette (recipe above)
1. Top pizzas with the caramelized onion spread, pinch of oregano and mozzarella and bake an additional 7-10 minutes at 400º Fahrenheit, or until done.
2. While pizza is in the oven, mix lettuce, spinach leaves, olives, tomato, cucumber and feta cheese together then dress with vinaigrette. Top pizza with salad as soon it comes out of the oven.
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