Imagine the fresh, delicious aroma of basil, tomatoes and garlic cooking in a warm oven on a cool summer evening. It’s pizza that tastes like summer.
“Many people don’t know how much they would enjoy fresh basil if they had it. And it’s the perfect time to buy a basil plant at a local greenhouse or a packet of seeds and plant some on your own,” said Shelly Wildenberg, a Marshfield Clinic registered dietitian.
Grow patio produce
Fresh basil has antioxidants, vitamins K and A, manganese and magnesium.
“It’s a great add-on to a dish and relatively simple to grow in central Wisconsin. Basil also can easily be grown in a pot on a sunny window in the house,” Wildenberg said.
You can grow your own tomatoes, too.
A large pot or a five-gallon pail with drainage holes can accommodate patio grape or cherry tomatoes. They can get large and top-heavy, so it may be helpful to put a larger rock in the bottom of the pail with the soil to prevent the pail from tipping over. Tomato cages can be helpful, too. Applying fertilizer monthly or according to the directions also is a good idea.
Or, you could try a square foot garden, which is perfect for patio produce needs.
Garlic may thrive better when planted in the fall.
Try this recipe
Fresh, delicious and light describes this healthier version of pizza for a taste of summer.
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 flatbread = 1 serving; Recipe makes 3 servings
- 1 pint grape tomatoes – sliced
- 3 pieces of light, whole grain flatbread (Example: Joseph’s Multigrain Flatbread)
- 1-3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/2 cups or 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, stems removed
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella (Example: BelGioioso)
- Parmesan (if desired)
- Italian seasoning and fennel
Note: Buy canned pizza sauce or tomato sauce for shorter prep time. This produces more of a traditional-style pizza than using sliced tomatoes.
Preheat oven to 400F. If you like a crispier crust, bake your flatbread for a few minutes before placing toppings.
Press or mince garlic and mix it with olive oil.
Lay out the flatbread on baking sheets and brush on garlic and olive oil. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and fennel.
Spread basil on flatbreads. Be generous; it shrinks a lot. Save some fresh basil to sprinkle on top when cooked.
If using a ball of fresh mozzarella, cut in quarters, then cut into relatively thin slices. Spread on top of the basil. Leave spaces between cheese slices. This allows the crust to get crispier.
Add tomato slices on the very top.
Bake until cheese melts and bubbles and the crust is golden brown and crisp, between 10 – 20 minutes.
Note: The reason for using thinly-sliced grape tomatoes is that some of the water evaporates off while baking. Thinner slices prevent your crust from becoming soggy. If you are using other tomatoes, or thicker slices, we recommend roasting them first. Drizzle them with olive oil and bake cut-side up at 300F for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally until they are no longer so juicy.
Each flatbread pizza contains: 400 calories; 24 g protein; 26 g fat; 7 g fiber; 23 g carbohydrate; 4g sugar; 580 mg sodium.