PITA PIZZA WITH GREEN OLIVES, MONTEREY JACK AND CHOPPED SALAD

Appetizers, Food From Friends

Yields 4 servings

For the chopped salad:

1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 small red onion, halved and very thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
3 hearts of romaine, coarsely chopped (about 8 cups)
4 medium Kirby (pickling) cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and cut into
bite-sized pieces
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeds and diced (about 1 cup)
1 ripe avocado, diced
5 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
8 to 10 fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces

For the pizzas:

4 (7-inch) rounds of pocketless pita bread
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated
1/2 cup pitted and roughly chopped green olives
2 jalapeno peppers, minced, or 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
freshly milled black pepper
shaved parmesan cheese for garnish

Place a pizza stone or an inverted rimmed baking sheet in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. To prepare the salad, vigorously rub the inside of a large bowl with the garlic. Add the vinegar and red onion and set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce, cucumber, tomato, avocado, basil, and mint and toss well.

Bake the pitas, in batches if necessary, on the heated pizza stone or pan for 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the cheese, olives, jalapenos and black pepper. Divide this mixture among the 4 pitas.

Return the pitas to the oven, 2 at a time, and bake until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Mound the salad on top of the pizzas, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.