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August 1, 2017

Top 5 Quick Naan Pizzas (An ode to the Naan Pizza)

Post by Mala Machado

Can I be totally corny for a minute? Can I just tell you how much I love the idea of Naan Pizzas? Of course I can. This is my blog. So, let’s take a minute and write an Ode to the Naan Pizza.

Your perfect crust. So golden. So crispy.

When I think of you, my eyes get misty.

Dressed up or dressed down, one thing is for sure.

Your versatility is the greatest allure.

Your smooth, toasted cheese. A wood-fired dream.

Cutting across cuisines, you’re more than you seem.

Oh, Naan Pizza! You make my heart glad.

When you’re what’s for dinner, even pizza-haters don’t feel sad,

~Mala Machado, the Masterful Food Poet

Ok, so now that’s out of the way, please let me explain.

Naan is an Indian flat-bread made in a clay oven (or Tandoor). Typically this kind of flat-bread is used to scoop up gravy or vegetables when enjoying and Indian meal. Food just tastes better when you eat with your hands – Indian food especially. Even if you don’t eat Indian food at your house and don’t love eating with your hands, I firmly believe you should still have a stash of naan in your fridge.

I like to get mine in an 18-pack of mini-naans from Costco. Yes, I can use them with Indian food but mostly I keep them around so I can make little personal pizzas anytime I’m in a time-crunch. Which, with a 17 month old in the house and a part-time career, happens often. If you don’t want to invest in the full-on 18 pack, go to your local grocer and 9/10 times you can find the 2 or 4 packs of larger Naan. One large naan is about the equivalent of 2 mini-naans.

Here’s why I like naan-pizzas (and you should, too).

  1. By the time your oven is preheated, you can have the pizzas ready to bake. Then within 10 minutes, you’re ready. Literally, a 15 minute meal solution.
  2. Don’t want to turn on an oven? Fire up the grill. Takes 5 minutes in a grill and turns out wonderfully.
  3. When baked in the oven or toaster oven or grill, the crust takes on a delectable wood-fired pizza quality. Crunchy and light. Easy to eat.
  4. Top these suckers any which way. They are the ultimate blank canvas. Don’t like red sauce? Use pesto. Don’t love cheese? Omit it completely. Not feeling Italian-style? Make it a Mexican Pizza. Or better yet, make it Indian-style! The possibilities are endless.
  5. Turn a regular dinner into a fun activity and make everyone happy at the same time. Cut veggies, set out cheese, pour a variety of sauces, and each person can top their own pizza however they’d like.

Today, I want to share with you my Top 5 Favorite ways of preparing a naan pizza. For each, the cook time and method remain the same —

Preheat your oven/toaster oven to 420 F. Once topped, bake the pizzas for about 8 minutes on an aluminum lined cookie sheet. A little longer if you want crispier crust and toastier cheese. If you’re using  a toaster oven, keep a close eye, as they seem to cook faster and burnt pizza isn’t so amazing. If you’re using your grill, keep cook time to about 5 minutes.

MY TOP 5 SUPER QUICK NAAN PIZZA COMBINATIONS (in order of preference)

  1. Pesto Pizza::: Smear 1-2 tablespoons of basil pesto (My current favorite is actually Costco’s Kirkland-brand pesto) on a mini-naan. Top with 2-3 tablespoons shredded mozzarella. If you have a little more time, add some caramelized onions or roasted garlic to really amp it up.
  2. Tandoori Pizza::: Pick out any curry flavor from the Indian-section at your local grocery store (I prefer the more tomato-y versions like Tandoori or Tikka Masala) and spread a thin layer on the naan. A thin layer because thicker layers might run and the flavor can become overwhelming.  Top with 2-3 tablespoons shredded mozzarella, sliced red bell peppers and sliced onion.  If you have some time to prepare, I love to add some faux chicken (like the Morningstar Farms Chik’n Strips or Gardein Chick’n Strips). While you saute these per package instructions,  sprinkle a little bit of nearly any Indian spice blend you might have in the house (I’ve successfully used Chole Masala, Pav Bhaji Masala, and Tandoori Masala). If you don’t have any kind of masala in the house, don’t worry. No big deal. Put these on the pizza when you add the other vegetables.
  3. Mexican Pizza::: Smear 1-2 tablespoons of canned refried black-beans on the mini-naan. Top with 2-3 tablespoons shredded Mexican-blended cheese (My favorite is Sargento for this reason), a light drizzle of enchilada sauce or taco sauce, a sprinkle of sliced olives, and freshly chopped green onions. If you have some time, you can also saute a few sliced mushrooms or defrost some frozen corn for additional flair. Add these prior to baking.
  4. Pizza Margherita::: Spread a thin layer of your favorite pasta or pizza sauce on the naan. If you put too much sauce, it can get a bit overwhelming. Top with slices of buffalo mozzarella, or if you don’t have this, regular shredded mozzarella works great too. Sprinkle torn basil leaves on top and bake.
  5. Veggie All-Star::: Spread your sauce of choice…or don’t. A drizzle of olive oil works too. Top with ANY veggie. My son loves broccoli, so lately I’m topping this one with red sauce, broccoli, olives, and whatever shredded cheese I have in the fridge.

What’s your favorite combination? I’d love to hear about it!

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