Try grilling a veggie pizza with seasonal produce

McClatchy Tribune News ServiceJanuary 1, 2014 

ENTG-BBQMYWAY-FALLVEGGIEPIZZA MCT

This grilled pizza shows off the flavors of fall with seasonal vegetables like beets, butternut squash, carrots and fennel. MCT

HANDOUT — MCT

At the risk of being perceived as a middle-aged guy trying to be cool, all I can say is ... OMG! This is so good.

If you want to try something totally different, keep reading. Charcoal, gas or in the oven, it doesn't matter, you will love this. We did this over charcoal, but I will cover the other cooking methods as well.

Here are the veggies you need: Fresh beets, butternut squash, carrots and fennel. Just a few slices of each, enough to cover a medium pizza, the size you would buy in the frozen section of the supermarket.

Cut all veggies into slices roughly one-quarter inch thick (or thinner). With the carrots, cut lengthwise or else the pieces will fall through the grill. With the squash, you will need to halve it and scoop out the seeds. Then peel it and slice it. Be careful with the squash. Injury zone for sure.

Brush with olive oil and add salt and pepper on both sides of all veggies. If you are grilling, set up your grill with indirect heat (one half of the grill has no flame) and place the veggies on the side not directly over the heat. Close the lid and allow to roast for 20 to 30 minutes. If you are doing this in an oven, roast on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees for the same amount of time, although you are really missing some great flavor by not grilling them.

If you are grilling, after 20 minutes or so, move the veggies over the direct flame. Shouldn't take long at all -- no more than 5 minutes total.

We used homemade whole wheat crust for this pizza. There are some great recipes online. You also can use the precooked crusts available in the stores. If you are using homemade crust, spread the dough out on a pizza stone that has been rubbed with olive oil. If you are using a precooked crust, place it on a pizza stone.

First, spread a fairly light layer of mascarpone cheese all over the dough or crust. Mascarpone Fresca is an Italian cream cheese which isn't like our cream cheese. You might need to warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds to make it spreadable. It also has a lighter, more buttery flavor than our cream cheese. Not as harsh.

Place the roasted veggies on the crust or dough that has been covered with the cheese. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary that has been chopped, roughly 1 teaspoon. If using dried rosemary, use roughly 1/2 teaspoon. This herb is really important, so try to find it.

Now, lightly layer with shredded mozzarella and sprinkle with a bit of shredded Parmesan cheese. Place back on the grill and cook until the crust is firm (if using the raw crust) or until the cheese is completely melted.

If using the oven, same approach, at 375 degrees.

This is one of the most delicious meals we have ever experienced. Don't change anything, and give it a try. Trust me.

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