What's one of the greatest things about pizza? It's NOT a salad! I mean, really, a bunch of leaves and vegetables in a bowl—who thought that was a good idea?! But, if you watched our salad pizza episode or you clicked on this post, you're open to the idea of a Salad Pizza, or at least a little bit curious.
You must be a true pizza freak. You're someone who knows that pizza makes any and all things better. Whether it's a bad day, a break up, or a bunch of vegetables, pizza is the cure. So free your mind from salad hate and open your belly to the most deliciously carb-o-licious salad you've never dreamed of: Salad Pizza.
Believe it or not, Salad Pizza is a thing. We first tried it in LA at Grey Block Pizza, and our taste buds were in glorious disbelief. Maybe it was the sour-cream-coated crust, the greens loaded with feta cheese, or the fresh avocado on top—whatever it was, we liked it, and it's inspired our own version of Salad Pizza. We've got the recipe here for you, along with some nosh-worthy knowledge about who first thought leaves in a bowl was a good idea, and how salad and pizza are more alike than you might think...
The Raw History of Salad
Salad is pretty weird. Lettuce as we know it actually used to be a weed that grew in the Mediterranean...and somehow people decided to eat it. In fact, that weed actually became a delicacy early on. Lettuce was first eaten by ancient Persian kings, and was sacred to the ancient Egyptian god of fertility, Min, because it was considered a natural aphrodisiac. Naturally, the lettuce trend caught on and spread to other ancient kingdoms.
The ancient Greeks and Romans are credited with first chowing down on what we call salad: raw veggies dressed in oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt. There were many salad variations, and also some differing opinions about how to eat the dish. Hippocrates and some other medical practitioners thought the salad should be eaten first, because they believed raw veggies could be easily digested easily so there would be room for the rest of the meal. But, there were gourmands at the time who felt that the vinegar in a salad ruined the taste of wine so it should be eaten last. Still today, some parts of the world eat their salad as a starter, and others eat it at the end of a meal!
Of course, at that time, these veggie dishes weren't yet called "salad." The word salad came from the Latin word for salt, "sal." The vulgar Roman term for salad became "herba salata," meaning salted herbs, which was eventually shortened to "salata," as a general term for salted things. That then transformed into the Old French word "salade," and finally 14th-century English came up with "sallet" or "salad." The name stuck, but the dish itself has undergone countless evolutions - including a pretty pizza-esque salad…
Pizza & Salad: They Go Waaay Back
It's easy to see how pizza and salad are different. There's carby, saucy, cheesy scrumptiousness, and then there's raw plants in a bowl. But, pizza and salad have plenty in common, if you think about it. Pizza is limitless—no rules, just right. Anything is welcome on a pizza and anything can be transformed into a pizza, if your taste buds will allow it. In the same vein, the perfect salad versatile, welcoming all additions, mix-ins, and toppings. Plus, pizza and salad are old friends that go waaay back in history. Both were culinary creations that got their start in ancient Greek and Roman times!
As herba salta evolved through the Roman empire, gourmands like Marcus Apicius in the 1st century AD started to experiment with the traditional form. Rather than the classic lettuce-cucumber-endive mix tossed in olive oil and vinegar, Apicius took salad to new, pizza-tastic heights. He came up with a recipe for “Bread Salad,” which involved a whole lot of bread and some cheese. The recipe involved covering the bottom of a large salad bowl with bread, layering on sliced chicken, then more bread, followed by layers of sweetbreads, shredded cheese, pine nuts or almonds, cucumber slices, finely chopped onions, and finally another layer of bread. He then doused the extravagant cheesy-bread salad in an equally extravagant dressing made of things like white wine, honey, ginger, mint, and raisins.
If that's not pizza-rific enough, Apicius also was known for using a cheese sauce dressing on lettuce! Now THAT is how you transform a lowly weed into yummy goodness. Clearly, Marcus Apicius saw was full of pizza-inspired ideas. He knew our basic truth: pizza can make everything better. Even salad. If you're skeptical, try our Salad Pizza recipe for yourself and see.
Tasty Tidbits About Salad & Veggies
Before we share our Salad Pizza recipe and board the train to Tasty Town, check out some strange facts about salads and the veggies you can use in them. Anything goes, there are no limits:
- In ancient times, love potions were made using arugula and other herbs like lavender.
- For a LONG time, medical professionals thought that salad wasn't healthy! The raw vegetables were considered a "cold" food, which could throw off the balance of the body's 4 humors.
- At the end of the 19th century in the U.S., salads became an art form, and the goal was to present a salad in an organized, well-presented way that didn’t at all resemble raw greens. The most popular form of this was gelatin-encased salads. That’s right, veggies nestled inside a big, jiggling tower of Jell-O, and there were thousands of different variations! They were often served with grilled meats and mayonnaise. (Yum?)
- In France, there are salads, and then there’s crudité: raw veggies served with dip.
- The much-loved Caesar salad is actually not an Italian creation—it was made in Tijuana, Mexico! In 1924, an Italian chef named Caesar Cardini was cooking in Tijuana on the Fourth of July when he ran out of food. Quickly and geniusly, he threw together the ingredients he had on hand to make the first Caesar salad.
- In the 1890s, Oscar Tschirky was working at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York when he invented the Waldorf salad, using apples, celery, and mayo. Oscar also invented eggs benedict! (Thank you, Oscar!!)
- In 2012, the world’s largest salad was made in Romania, and it weighed 41,998 pounds!
- The phrase “salad days” refers to the time in a person’s life when they’re young and inexperienced. It was first used in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra in 1606.
- Lettuce is the second most popular fresh vegetable in the U.S., second only to potatoes.
- Potatoes were the first food to be grown in space! In 1996, potato plants were taken into space on the space shuttle Columbia, taking one small step for veggies, one giant leap for salad-kind.
- Iceberg lettuce was developed in America, and it got its name from its method of transportation. It used to travel long distances on old train carriages, and the cartons of lettuce had to be covered in ice to keep them cold—hence, iceberg
- The name “avocado” comes from the word ahuacatl, which means “testicle” in Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs). This is likely because of the fruit’s shape (yes, avocado is a fruit) and the way that they grow in pairs.
- There are at least 10,000 different types of tomatoes—ranging from the tiny cherry tomato up to the Ponderosa tomato, which can weight over 3 pounds!
You Put the Salad on the Pizza & You Eat It All Up
If you're a salad-hater, it's your lucky day. See how salad can be DELICIOUS—and by that, we mean enjoy salad only on top of a fluffy, warm pizza crust. You might just like what you taste. We sure did. Check out our garlic parmesan pizza crust, topped with a finger-lickin' good salad! That's right, salad can be eaten with your hands. When it's a Salad Pizza.
Garlic Parmesan Pizza Crust
- 1 cup warm water
- ½ cup bread flour, or all-purpose flour
- 1 packet (0.25 oz.) active dry yeast
- 1 ½ tsp white sugar
- 2 cups bread flour, or all-purpose (more if needed)
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp garlic paste
- 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- 2-3 Tbsp sesame seeds
Thanks to allrecipes.com for this awesome dough recipe!
*NOTE: This dough will need to sit in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight before it can be baked. Plan your dough-making endeavors about a day before your desired pizza-eating endeavors! The unbaked dough will last around 3 days in the fridge, or you can freeze it for longer storage.
Chopped Fresh Salad
(This is how we made our salad, but you can make yours in any way that you like!)
- ¾ cup romaine, chopped
- ¾ cup spinach, chopped
- ¾ cup arugula
- (or whichever greens you prefer!)
- ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ¼ cup kalamata olives, halved
- ½ cup goat cheese crumbles
Lemon Olive Oil Dressing
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon, juice & zest
- 1 tsp Dijon
- ¼ tsp salt
- pepper, to taste
- 1 Tbsp sour cream
Salad Pizza Assembly
- garlic parmesan pizza crust
- thin layer of sour cream “sauce”
- chopped fresh salad, tossed in dressing
- 2 avocados, sliced
To make your garlic parmesan pizza crust:
- Combine water, ½ cup flour, yeast and sugar in a bowl and stir. Allow to sit until mixture is foaming and bubbly, around 20 minutes.
- Stir salt, 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder, garlic paste, and oregano into the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until dough holds together. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface.
- Coat the inside of a bowl with 2 ½ teaspoons of olive oil. (This bowl will hold your dough after you’ve kneaded it!)
- Knead dough, adding flour as needed, until soft and sticky, about 5-10 minutes.
- Form dough into a ball and place in bowl. Place bowl in a warm area and cover with a cotton towel for about 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size.
- Punch down dough and place in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. When ready to use, remove dough from fridge and bring to room temp before using.
- Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough into a pizza shape.
- Place on a pizza pan or pizza stone, sprinkle surface with grated parmesan, and sprinkle edge of crust with sesame seeds. Prebake for 8 minutes. (Use a pizza stone lightly brushed in olive oil to get the bottom brown and crisp.)
To make your chopped fresh salad:
- While crust bakes, start prepping your chopped salad.
- Add all salad dressing ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine salad greens and toss together.
- Add in the rest of your veggies and cheese, then toss to integrate. Pour in your dressing and continue to toss.
To assemble your salad pizza:
- When crust is finished baking, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. (Ideally, you want your salad to go on top of the pizza crust when it’s still a little bit warm!)
- Top crust with a thin layer of sour cream as your “sauce.”
- Load on your chopped fresh salad that’s been tossed in lemon olive oil dressing.
- Layer sliced avocados on top. Feel free to sprinkle on any additional seasonings here. (We used Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning because it’s amazing.)
- Cut into pieces, serve, and EAT THE SALAD PIZZA.
Yields the tastiest salad you’ll ever eat. And it’s on a pizza.