My infatuation with pizza is no secret.
While some view this decadent dish as an indulgence, I see it as something I should be able to enjoy once a week.
Also, if you call it a “flatbread,” this negates any sense of guilt that may have creeped in while you were busy shredding four different kinds of cheese.
If I had to pick my very favorite way to partake in pizza, well, it would be complemented by pitchers of light brews, at an open-air dive bar blaring beach tunes on the jukebox, with a side of my best friends.
But since I can’t make that happen every weeknight when I’m simply craving pizza, I have to turn to something that takes less effort:
What is naan? Naan-a-ya business! Just kidding. This recipe is way too good to spend all day punning over.
You’ll conventionally find this leavened flatbread on the menu at Indian restaurants, though its popularity has expanded far past its original cultural origins.
Its overall appearance and texture are similar to pita bread, though it doesn’t come with any pockets.
Neither do my leggings…
Traditionally, naan comes to fruition in a cylindrical or metal tandoor oven, but if you’re going for the from-scratch version in your home kitchen, a cast iron pan works just fine.
In the tandoor, the oval dough rounds are whacked against the side of the smoky cooker and they cling to its fiery surface.
When the charred bubbles appear, the magic has begun. Dairy products like milk, yogurt, or butter are occasionally mixed into the dough. This gives the bread a soft texture and rich bite.
But enough of that. I’m starving. The point is, when I’m craving pizza but looking for a lighter, easier way to get it from the plate to my mouth, I turn to naan flatbreads.
Also, let’s talk about the size of store-bought naan rounds. They’re the perfect base for mini, personal pan pizzas, so you don’t have to worry about eating a whole one by yourself.
Unless you make the entire package of naan… for yourself.
And in that case, I will refer you back to my note above regarding leggings!
Naan is pre-cooked, ready to roll, and feels far less heavy than your standard pizza crust.
As far as the cooking process goes, when I’m looking to impart a touch of extra flavor, I gas up the grill. Naan crisps up beautifully in the oven (extra olive oil and parchment paper are my secrets), but, as I’ve learned from my other grilled flatbread recipe, throwing them onto the fire brings a grate presence of smoke and char that you just can’t mimic indoors.
Welp, looks like there’s no stopping my puns.
Although the pizza becomes quite sturdy once it hits its golden-brown peak, you want to be mindful of the toppings when you’ve opted for the grill or a grill pan instead of baking in the oven, as the majority of the heat comes from the bottom.
These Caprese-style garnishes create the perfect middle ground in every way possible.
Marinara, stringy cheese, and basil give it a simple, authentic Italian character, while everybody else involved elevates the vibe straight to summertime.
The red sauce is acidic and concentrated, and the tomato slices (which just barely get kissed with heat) are juicy and bright.
Thanks to fresh mozzarella’s high water content, the gloriously gooey ingredient is ideal for quickly spreading from end to end of the naan in the short period of time it spends over the heat.
I adore the tang of sticky balsamic syrup on a Caprese salad, so a fancy drizzle to finish things off only seems right.
A few pricks of heat from sharp red pepper flakes and a dash of salty Parmesan for good measure, and you’ve got yourself a dinner that’s slap-ya-naan-a-good.
Oops, I did it again.Print
Fire up the grill. This foolproof flatbread with juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and tangy balsamic is a bright bite of summer.
- 4 naan flatbreads (preferably roasted garlic or plain flavor)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 cup simple marinara or jarred marinara sauce
- 16 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 4 medium cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 2 small Roma tomatoes (or heirloom, if possible), sliced into thin rounds
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, gently torn just before serving
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons balsamic syrup (or aged balsamic) for drizzling
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium heat (about 375°F).
- Evenly drizzle (or brush) the naan on both sides with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Spread each with even portions of the marinara and then top with the fresh mozzarella, garlic, tomatoes, salt, and pepper.
- Carefully place each naan pizza on the grill. If you’re working on an outdoor grill, close the cover. Cook until the bottom of each is golden brown and crispy and the cheese has melted, about 8-10 minutes.
- Remove the pizzas from the grill and garnish with the torn basil leaves (leaving any very small leaves whole) and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the balsamic, and the Parmesan cheese. Slice and serve with the red pepper flakes.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Pizza
- Method: Grilling
- Cuisine: Flatbread
Keywords: naan, pizza, marinara, mozzarella, tomato, basil, Caprese
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Preheat the Grill and Prep the Toppings
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium heat (about 375°F) and slice the mozzarella, garlic, and tomatoes.
Step 2 – Build the Flatbreads
Evenly drizzle or brush the naan on both sides with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. This will ensure a golden brown crust and add some fruity flavor.
Spread each piece of naan with even portions of the marinara. Top with the fresh mozzarella, garlic, tomatoes, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.
Step 3 – Grill
Carefully place each naan pizza on the grill or pan. If you’re working on an outdoor grill, close the cover.
If you prefer, you could also bake this in the oven. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the cooking time.
Cook until the bottom of each is golden brown and crispy, and the cheese has melted. This should take about 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on the bottoms to make sure they don’t char.
If you’re working with an indoor grill pan and having trouble melting the cheese, you can place the flatbreads in the oven under the broiler until they get bubbly.
Step 4 – Garnish and Serve
Remove from the grill and garnish with the basil leaves and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar or balsamic syrup, and the Parmesan cheese. Slice and serve sprinkled with red pepper flakes to taste.
Caprese Me If You Can
I’m not saying that you should replace your standard pizza dough entirely with naan, but I am recommending that you give this fresh take on flatbread a try. To amp up the health factor, pick up a package of whole wheat naan instead of regular.
If you’re feeling frisky, the roasted garlic variety (that you can find in the bakery section of most grocery stores) will be your new best friend.
When it’s not summertime, replace the tomato slices with super sweet cherry or grape tomatoes for a snappy bite.
How else do you finagle your flatbreads? Share your naan-spiration in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Looking for other creative ways to change up your pizza base? Give these alternative doughs a shot:
- Honey Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
- Einkorn Tomato Basil Pastry (Ricotta Tomato Pie)
- Kefir-Soaked Spelt Pizza Dough
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on July 11, 2011. Last updated on June 30, 2020.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”