Mediterranean Beef and Vegetable Flatbread Pizza

A lot of people consider pizza comfort food. Just a look in the yellow pages of your local phone book bears that out. And consider the slew of pizza delivery cars that can been seen nearly every night in most cities.

We’re lucky here in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. There are a lot of good pizza places. Personally, I love Rhombus Guys and Mama Maria’s pizza, but there are many other restaurants where we’ve sampled good pie (i.e. Italian Moon, Green Mill, Slap Shot, Pizza Hut, Giuseppe’s, Mike’s).

From the length of the aforementioned list, you can tell that I’m one of those people who consider pizza comfort food.

But you don’t have to go out or call for delivery to have good pizza. You can make your own at home.

One method that’s becoming popular is grilled, which is becoming the preferred method of preparing one of the America’s favorite foods.

Grilled pizzas have a lot of things going for them. Specifically, they are typically thin-crusted, lightly sauced and have minimal toppings. And they also cook very fast. And with a few easy tweaks, pizza can be transformed into something that not only tastes good but is healthy to boot.

The following recipe features a pizza that substitutes whole-wheat pita bread for the traditional white flour dough crust, uses a lean cut of grilled sliced beef instead of sausage or pepperoni and a generous amount of vegetables (mushrooms, red bell pepper and baby spinach leaves).

And in lieu of mozzarella cheese, a reduced-fat feta cheese is substituted. The feta gives the pizza a tangy tasty without excessive calories of the mozzarella.

Mediterranean Beef and Vegetable Flatbread Pizza
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
¾ to 1 pound beef sirloin, cut about ¾-inch thick and trimmed of fat
3 cloves garlic, minced, divided
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
4 whole-wheat flatbread pitas, warmed
2 teaspoons light sour cream
1 cup lightly packed baby spinach leaves, stems trimmed and thinly sliced
¼ cup reduced fat feta cheese
Brush 1 teaspoon olive oil evenly over both sides of sirloin. Rub half of garlic evenly over both sides of sirloin. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat grill to medium-high direct heat or allow coals to burn down to white ash. Grill steak over direct heat in a covered grill about 15 minutes or until of medium doneness and meat thermometer, inserted into the center registers 155 degrees. Remove from heat, cover and allow to stand about 5 minutes. Thinly slice meat across the grain.
Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining garlic, pepper, mushrooms and oregano and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently until tender, about 5 minutes.
To assemble, spread ½ teaspoon sour cream lightly over one side of each warm pita bread. Arrange ¼ of the spinach over the pita. Top with beef and vegetables. Sprinkle with feta. Slice each into wedges and serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 320 calories, 27 percent of calories from fat, 10 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 49 milligrams cholesterol, 33 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 368 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.