I'm trying to avoid a caloric overload, so I called a vegetarian friend, East Memphian Justin Fox Burks, for advice.
Along with his wife Amy Lawrence, Burks, a photographer, chronicles his food experiments on a blog, The Chubby Vegetarian, and teaches freelance cooking classes at the Memphis Botanic Garden and at Whole Foods Market.
A few years ago, Burks perfected a grilled flatbread pizza that's delicious topped with just-picked seasonal vegetables, roasted eggplant and feta cheese, or a Puttanesca sauce. Shunning an aerated pan, he cooks the dough directly on the grates of his gas grill then finishes off the pizza under the broiler.
"There's something about that crust coming into direct contact with the heat source," Burks said. "It's where the magic happens. Don't be afraid: You have to throw it on there with the peel, and trust that it will be fine."
In our circle of friends, Burks is known for his so-good-you-forget-you're-not-eating-meat concoctions.
"When it comes to vegetarian food, pizza is the great equalizer," he said. "People don't look at a slice of pizza the way they would if I tried to serve tofu. Plus, it's so much fun to cook with other people.
"It's one of those great meals where if you have the dough and the sauce ready to go, you're just 8 minutes away from eating."
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