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So anyone who knows me knows that pizza is the greatest thing in the world to me. I mean it even trumps bacon and to me #baconislove but there is just something purely magical about pizza. It’s the perfect food for me. It’s that one food that everyone asks “If you were trapped on a deserted island and could only have one food for the rest of your life what would it be?” It’s always been the same answer for the past 25+ years… pizza. Don’t care what’s on it, don’t care if it’s hot or room temp – heck I love it straight out of the fridge cold. I just puffy heart pizza.
When the folks from Freschetta asked me to come up with great accompaniment to go with their pizza I went with something I’ve been making gosh, 15 years or so. Now their pizza by itself but I always feel that when you have pizza as a meal, you need something with it (other than a drink). You need a side dish. Now sure I could have gone with wings but that’s pretty standard. You’re probably going to say “but Lor, you’re making a salad, what’s so different with that?” Well I’ll tell you guys – it’s not your typical salad. First it’s grilled. Yes, grilled. Next I’m taking some of the same toppings that are on the pizza and using those also as an accompaniment to the pizza plus a few other items.
To make this all happen I needed to hit up my local WalMart Super Center to get the ingredients. Obviously I needed some Freschetta pizzas but gosh so many to choose from – Freschetta Canadian Bacon & Pineapple, Freschetta Pepperoni, FreschettaBrick Oven Mushroom & Spinach, Freschetta Brick Oven Pepperoni, Freschetta4-Cheese, FreschettaBrick Oven 3 Meat, Freschetta Supreme, Freschetta 4-Meat, Freschetta Naturally Rising Sausage & Pepperoni and Freschetta Brick Oven Supreme. Lordy! How’s a girl to choose just one? Easy! You don’t! LOL I grabbed the Pepperoni for me and Canadian Bacon & Pineapple for Mr. Fantabulous. Yes – His & Her pizzas! Once the pizza were in my buggy (that’s shopping cart for all of you non-Pittsburgh folks) I ventured to the produce section to pick up some lettuce for the salad. If I didn’t already have pepperoni and a wedge of Parmesan at home I would have picked up some at the store. Through the self-checkout I went and I was homeward bound to make some pizza and that salad.
But before I go on about the salad I need to talk more about these pizzas from Freschetta. As you know, I’m a HUGE (like UBER) pizza snob and it takes a lot to impress me with pizza. Having grown up in a family that had a pizza shop I know my way all around that luscious cheesy pie. These pizzas are great frankly. Take for example their crust. Most “commercial” pizza crusts contain chemicals to help theirs rise. These don’t. Plus they have 100% real provolone and mozzarella cheese! And you all know how much I love my cheese! They are like me when it comes to the ingredients they use; they only use the highest quality ingredients. They know we care about what you and I serve our family which means we get a high quality product every single time.
Grilled salads are fairly new to the “food scene”. The trick to making grilled salads is how you cut your lettuce up. I can remember the first time I made a grilled salad for Mr. Fantabulous. Folks he looked at me like I had 3 heads. His next question was “but won’t the leaves fall through the grates on the grill?” Oh bless his beautiful heart (okay fine, I first thought that too but we won’t divulge that, k?). The trick is when you cut your lettuce albeit it romaine hearts, endive or even good old iceberg (which honestly ROCKS though it gets the short end of the stick when it comes to ‘fancy’ lettuce) is to keep the core in tact. So for romaine, you cut straight down the middle leaving the core on. By doing this you keep the lettuce in tact and it won’t fall through the grates.
A quick pan sear of the pepperoni and instant crispy pepperoni strips. FYI – you’ve not had awesome until you’ve had crispy pepperoni strips. Just like we all love the crispy edges of pepperoni when it bakes – image the WHOLE THING being crispy! It’s like a meaty ‘potato’ chip!
The next thing you want to do is brush down the grill grates (or grill pan) with some olive oil and also brush the cut side of the lettuce (the side that will touch the grates). Right before they on the grill (or grill pan) a quick pinch of salt and pepper is all it needs. Cut side down onto the grill and allow to cook for a few minutes or until the lettuce starts to char and wilt. You don’t want to cook it all the way but just enough to warm it and get a nice char. As soon as it’s done just drizzle some lemon juice and olive oil on it or your favorite dressing and that’s it. Like I said you can do this with pretty much any lettuce. You can also do it with cabbage. Now the trick is when you grill cabbage is you only want the wedges to be about 1 1/2″ thick. Any thicker and it’s too “much”. That’s the perfect size as the outside will be wilted and charred but the inside will be crunchy but tender enough to eat. This size gives it a perfect textural balance.
So anyway, as I had the Freschetta pizza baking away (which seriously how easy are these pizzas anyway?!) I mean just preheat the oven, pop the pizza on a cookie sheet and bake away. Oops… sorry I didn’t finish that thought. LOL As I was saying since I had the pizza baking away I put this salad together. Now this salad takes maybe 10 minutes tops top make from start to finish. It’s best served hot or warmed. Though full disclosure I have eaten it cold and it’s still pretty good. But this, this is such a game changer when it comes to pizza and a salad.
Once the pizza was done, a quick run through of my pizza cutter and lunch was served. Since we spent most of the weekend working outside we were both starving. And thanks to the simplicity of this salad and the work done by Freschetta, I didn’t have to slave over making a delicious lunch. This is definitely a keeper that your family will want over and over.
So whatever night in your house is ‘Pizza Night’ make it a Freschetta pizza with this awesome Grilled Italian Salad!Print
- 1 Frozen Freschetta Pizza
- 2 large heads of Romaine Hearts, cleaned
- 8–10 slices sandwich pepperoni cut into 1/2” strips
- 1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium and brush with olive oil.
- In a heat safe grill pan add the pepperoni to the pan and cook over medium heat until the pepperoni strips are crispy (but not burnt). Remove from the pan and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess grease.
- Cut your romaine hearts lengthwise leaving the core on each half.
- Brush the backside of the romaine (the non-cut side) with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, garlic and pepper.
- Turn the romaine over and brush the cut side with additional oil then sprinkle with salt, garlic and pepper.
- Bake the pizza per the package instructions.
- While the pizza is baking place the romaine cut-side down on the grill and grill for about a minute or until the lettuce has charred slightly.
- Using tongs, carefully turn it over so the romaine is laying on one half of the rounded part cooking until that slightly chars and then carefully turning it to get the other half of the rounded part. This of the halved romaine heart as a triangle – grill it on all 3 sides.
- Once all sides are charred remove to a plate, drizzle with lemon juice and top with shaved parmesan, crispy pepperoni strips, croutons and a light drizzle of some more olive oil.