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Posted on Jun 18, 2015 |

Rita’s Recipe: Grilled Pizza and Grilled Fruit Dessert

Rita’s Recipe: Grilled Pizza and Grilled Fruit Dessert

Photo by Remington Phillips, courtesy

Photo by Remington Phillips, courtesy

Father’s Day is a time to honor all fathers, both biological and otherwise.  There are some Bible herbs and foods that have  significance especially for Dads.

Hyssop (Oregano) Exodus 12:22 –– Moses told the Israelites to dip a branch of hyssop in lamb’s blood to mark their doorposts. Scholars believe hyssop to be a kind of oregano/marjoram.  Oregano is a very strong tasting herb, one that holds up during long and hot cooking times. I equate that with good fathers who, as head of the family, are secure and strong enough to hold a family together during stressful times.

Rosemary – not mentioned specifically in the Bible but a common herb used during those times. How does that have significance for Dads?

Nearly everyone had a “garden of herbs” and a wild type of rosemary is one of the herbs associated with those times. Rosemary’s flavor is pine like and never varies regardless of the variety you choose. Rosemary reminds me of dads who are consistent in their faith no matter how challenging the situation. Rosemary is an herb that offers protection as an antioxidant, just like our Dads protect us. If you’ve noticed yourself sneezing or your joints beginning to stiffen, you may want to consider adding rosemary to your meals. It contains rosmarinic acid, an antioxidant that works with your immune system to block allergy triggers; it also helps to prevent arthritis.

Thyme – again not mentioned specifically in the Bible but a well loved and much used herb that grew wild in the hills of Jerusalem.

It adapted itself well regardless of the conditions under which it was growing.  A good Dad will nurture his family to adapt and actually grow strong in difficult situations.

Garlic – Numbers 11:5:  When the people wept “Oh that we had some of the delicious fish we enjoyed in Egypt  – cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic…”

Garlic is not a timid herb, just as an effective Dad is not timid when it comes to living his faith on a daily basis as a good example for his family.

Onions – as mentioned above in the book of Numbers.

Onions are often the ingredient that brings the components of a dish together with a unique flavor. Dads do that in families – with humor and help from the Holy Spirit they are instrumental in bringing together the strengths of different personalities and melding them into a faith-filled family unit.


This is for Matt Swaim and all of our Sacred Heart Radio and Catholic Beat dads. Matt gave me the idea for grilled pizza since he has been making it at home.

The topping can be as simple as a  jarred pasta or pizza sauce with a good amount of Mozzarella and a sprinkling of Italian seasoning, or layers of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves. If necessary, grill/cook your toppings ahead. The dough isn’t on the grill long enough to cook toppings, but to simply reheat them.   By the time the cheese melts, the prepared toppings should be hot.


For added texture, add a tablespoon of cornmeal to the flour mixture.

1 pouch dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup warm water
2 cups all purpose flour in all
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder (opt but good)
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for brushing on crust

Combine yeast, sugar and water. Let sit 5 minutes or until foamy.  Add 1-3/4 cups flour, salt, garlic powder and 2 tablespoons oil.  Mix either by hand, with mixer or food processor.  Knead a minute or two, using more flour if necessary to make a soft dough.  Place in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to an hour or so.  Punch down and let rest a couple of minutes. Divide into 4 balls and roll out.

Secrets to great grilled dough:  Stretch!! Pizza for the grill should be rolled or stretched very thin so that it grills evenly.  Don’t look for a perfect shape.  Craggy, uneven edges are what give it character.   Brush!!  Brush a bit of olive oil on crust during grilling to keep it tender with better flavor.

To grill dough: Quickly grill one side only on hot grill, enough to make “markings” on the bottom side, before putting on toppings.  Put toppings on grilled side, then cover grill and cook pizzas until toppings are hot and bottom has nice grill marks. If grilling for a crowd, grill one side ahead.


Cut as desired and brush with olive oil and grill over high heat just until tender, but not mushy.  Eggplant (small Japanese), zucchini, peppers, asparagus, red onions, plum tomatoes (cut in half with juice & seeds squeezed out), cherry tomatoes (left whole), mushrooms are all good choices.

Note: After I grill vegetables, I usually toss them with a bit of minced garlic, salt and pepper and perhaps a sprinkling of Balsamic vinegar.  I’ll sometimes add some minced herbs to them, such as fresh rosemary, basil, parsley, thyme, etc.


1) Prosciutto, Mozzarella, Romano. Grill with the toppings.
After grilling, top with mixed greens tossed with the following vinaigrette:
Whisk together:
¼ cup red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon dry basil or 1 tablespoon fresh
Salt and pepper to taste

2) Italian sausage, cooked
Grilled bell red, green or yellow peppers, julienned or chopped coarsely
Grilled sweet or red onions, chopped coarsely
Grilled Portabella or other mushrooms, sliced thinly on diagonal and coarsely chopped, if desired
Grilled Zucchini, sliced
Feta or goat cheese

3) Italian sausage, cooked
Grilled bell peppers
Grilled red onions
Chopped tomatoes and green onions mixed with a bit of garlic and salt
Mozzarella & Parmesan

4) Gorgonzola cheese
Grilled red onions
Drizzle of olive oil


Dip fruit like pineapple and banana slices in a small amount of melted butter or margarine.  Dip fruit into brown sugar, patting to coat. Grill over hot coals, until fruit is nicely “marked” but not mushy.  Serve hot or room temperature.

Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Heikenfeld.

Rita Nader Heikenfeld writes a weekly syndicated column and blog for the Community Press, appears every Thursday on the Son Rise Morning Show, and is the author of several cookbooks. An adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, she is Certified Culinary Professional and Certified Modern Herbalist,  the Culinary Professional for Jungle Jim’s Eastgate, and a media personality with a cable show and YouTube videos. In 2014 she was inducted into the Escoffier Hall of Fame. She lives “in the sticks” outside Batavia, Ohio with her family, where they heat with wood, raise chickens for eggs, and grow their own produce and herbs. You’ll find all her previous recipes featured on The Catholic Beat here.

Rita’s Bible Foods segment airs on the Son Rise Morning Show every Thursday morning at 7:22 am (rebroadcast Friday at 6:02 am). Tune in to hear her discuss the history behind each recipe and the scripture verses that inspired it. And of course, for cooking tips!

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