We are headed out this evening on a road trip to California’s Central Coast for the Memorial Day weekend. For us travel, exploration and adventure have become a way of life. Every trip however brief is an opportunity to meet new friends, discover new towns and gaze in awe at nature’s beauty all around us.
When we take off on these weekend getaways we usually leave after work on a Friday evening. It has become a tradition of ours to pack a picnic dinner to enjoy on the way. Over time I have become quite creative with ideas that will work well on car trips.
|A splendid setting for a road trip picnic|
We always pack an assortment of nuts, dried fruit, homemade cookies and the ever popular carrot sticks but we try to keep our snack choices ever changing and tasty. I’ve baked kale chips, sweet potato chips, prepared fresh almond butter on celery sticks and popped popcorn. One of the handiest most enjoyed road trip dinners has been the focaccia pizza. Baking the focaccia is quite easy and provides a blank canvas to any topping that suits your fancy. This trip I’ll bake the pizza topped with caramelized onion, sun dried tomato, artichoke hearts and sauteed spinach with garlic.
Note: I like to caramelize the onion in advance and set it aside. It requires cooking at low slow pace to really make it turn out perfectly.
1.5 cups warm water +1.5 TBS (extra water needed when I use part wheat flour)
1 tablespoon yeast
1.25 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups AP flour
1.5 cups white wheat flour
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
½ teaspoon of your favorite herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary or any Italian combo)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan (add it right into the dough)
Mix all above ingredients together (I use the kitchen aid mixer) till combined
When mixed I place dough on an oiled (olive) ¼ sheet pan (9X13)
This dough is wetter and softer than other types of dough
I use a spatula to get it on the baking sheet.
I also put olive oil on my hands to keep the dough from sticking to me as I spread it out evenly covering the baking sheet.
I cover with plastic wrap and let it rise (about one hour)
After it rises I make indentations with my fingers and drizzle a bit more olive oil on top.
I artfully place my toppings on the dough and place in a 375 degree oven till done
|before adding cheese|
|After adding the cheese|
½ cup artichoke hearts
1,5 cups fresh spinach (I sautéed with garlic)
1 red onion (caramelized)
½ cup sun dried tomatoes (I chop and sprinkle)
1 cup shredded Mozzarella
I bake the pizza for 35-40 minutes till perfectly done.
Total Coast: around $10.00
This pizza is a great alternative to the classic sandwich and very adaptable to any occasion. When we travel I don’t use meat on the pizza but when I serve it at home I experiment with all kinds of toppings. If I have house guests I adapt the topping to include scrambled eggs and bacon crumbles topped with cheddar cheese for an easy fresh and unique breakfast offering. The roasted veggie version would even pair splendidly with a classic Italian dinner.
As you decide how to spend this Memorial Day weekend consider a picnic and consider this pizza. Whether you travel to a National Park, local fields of wildflowers or you simply venture into your own backyard, get friends and family together and delight in each others company.
|Happy Memorial Day & Happy picnicking|