Tag Archives: St. George Island State Park

Campfire Cobb Salad Pizza

Combining my new favorite cookbook with my love of Florida

I can’t recall where I read about “The Weekday Vegetarians“, but I went from reading about it to borrowing the book from the library to keeping the book past its due date to buying a copy on Kindle. I’m obsessed with these recipes. The number of times I’ve made Jenny Rosenstrach’s Artichoke Dip Pizza in the past few weeks should embarrass me, but I will not be shamed. I’m actually eating some as I type this.

We spent the week between Christmas and 2022 at St. George Island State Park, but I did as much prep in my nice, roomy, non-mobile kitchen before we left Gulfport. Since Jenny Rosenstrach’s artichoke dip pizza and zucchini pizza hit so well with us, I figured I’d try her vegetarian take on Cobb salad pizza. Campfire pizza takes some adjustment, but since I don’t want a camper big enough for an oven, that’s how I had to make it – and I regret nothing. I won’t post the original recipe from Jenny Rosenstarch’s book (as an author, I understand the importance of getting you to buy the book), but I will give you my version of her recipe, adapted for camping and cooking for someone with celiac. If you, like most of the world, don’t have celiac, check out her original recipe, as it’s easily adapted to camping, too.

Cobb salad pizza in a cast iron skillet over a campfire
I love this pizza. Photo by Cathy Salustri

Gluten-Free Campfire Cobb Salad Pizza

Adapted from Rosenstrach, Jenny. The Weekday Vegetarians (p. 40). Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed. Kindle Edition.


  • 1 Schar gluten-free pizza crust
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like it hot)
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil (we also keep a bottle in the camper)
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Agave
  • 1 head romaine, shredded
  • 1 golden beet, roasted and sliced
  • 4 oz. goat cheese (mozzarella- or cheddar-style)
  • Scallions and chives for garnish

Before your trip

  • Roast the beet and slice it
  • Mix the dressing: olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and a squirt of agave (use your judgment with the agave based on how sweet you like things, and remember the corn and beet will add sweetness)
  • Shred the romaine and slice the onions

At the campsite

  • Start the campfire, preferably with charcoal. While you wait for the coals, prep the pizza.
  • Place the pizza crust in a cast-iron skillet; brush the top lightly with extra-virgin olive oil and the garlic.
  • Mix the romaine, onions and corn with the dressing. Tomatoes are OK, here, too.
  • Slice the cheese into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • When the coals turn white – and not before – place the dressed salad on the crust, then top with beets and then the cheese slices.
  • Place the pizza (in the pan) on the fire*
  • When the cheese melts, the pizza’s ready. Sprinkle the pizza with scallions and chives. Pour yourself a glass of red wine, and enjoy.

*Florida campers: At Florida state parks, the fire pits/grills always have grates; if you don’t have a skillet, you can place it directly on the grates but you’ll need to watch it like a hawk. A black bottom pizza crust with un-melted cheese is no fun.

When we made this pizza – and it tasted amazing, so thank you, Jenny! – we had the good fortune of winter panhandle weather, which made a hot pizza a delight. I could see it working in the Florida Keys in July, too, with a crisp chardonnay and less cheese. You could also get the crust and garlic/EVOO combo nice and hot, then throw the salad on, sans cheese, for two minutes or so for a wilted summer salad pizza. Whatever you do, though, do it outside in Florida, which makes everything taste so much better!

How we found the best island in the Florida Panhandle

Part two: The best five days in July

Missed part one? Read it now.

Stopping only at the local grocery (no, not even a supermarket, simply a grocery store) for ice, we motor south as fast as an aging SUV pulling a travel trailer can go, which is to say not so very fast. We drive and drive and drive (this may have felt like a longer drive than it was because of the rain and the underlying fear we’d lose out on a fantastic campsite) and break out of the forest onto the shores of the northern Gulf of Mexico, head slightly west, and then cross the Bryant Grady Patton Bridge. As we cross the swooping bridge, I roll down my window and suck in a lungful of sweet, salty air.

The sand dunes at St. George Island State Park. Photo by Cathy Salustri.

We’d landed on St. George Island and had found a last-minute campsite at Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park (St. George Island State Park to its friends) through some combination of a merciful park manager and my ability to use a Florida Gazetteer.

While working on “Backroads of Paradise“, we’d tent camped at this park. I took some amazing photographs of the amazing sand dunes (I’m a sucker for sand dunes), then promptly forgot I’d ever visited it… until we returned.

The first time we’d spent any time along the coast of the Florida panhandle, I’d asked Barry if he wanted to move there. He reminded me that I put on sweatpants when the mercury dropped below 80º and suggested perhaps we should simply visit. Despite that, we haven’t spent any time of consequence in the area in almost eight years which, by my calculations, is eight years too long.

It’s a no-brainer that the beach is the big deal here, but the trails, too, are lovely. Pine trees – longleaf pines used to cover this part of the state, until the St. Joe Paper Company ripped them out for lumber and pencils and replanted with a faster-growing type of pine tree that, yes, looks almost as lovely but also changed the ecology of the area – pine trees abound here, close to the dunes.

Photo by Cathy Salustri.

We spend some time on the beach, and more time exploring the trails. There’s almost no cell service to speak of, so when it rains I read or work on a puzzle or pretend to write. We drive in to town and meander through the neighborhoods. We go back to the market – it’s definitely not a supermarket, more of a local grocer – to restock, and stop for ice cream. We take our bikes on a trail at the east end of the park, turning back when storm clouds darken the sky. I make friends with a tiny frog standing guard over our electrical hookup.

If loving a (blurry photo of a frog with a wonky leg is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Photo by Cathy Salustri.

The panhandle has a long, tragic history with hurricanes, and some of the trails still haven’t reopened since Hurricane Michael. Many of the homes outside the park sit perched on concrete stilts; we even had to climb a flight of stairs to get to the ice cream shop. There are a few cheeky birds who take more than a passing interest in what we’re cooking, going to far as to swoop in on our dinner as it cooks on the grill.

At one point we had four cardinals and few other birds within five feet of our food as it cooked on the grill. The presence of two (admittedly unmotivated) dogs didn’t seem to phase them. Photo by Cathy Salustri.

We had a gorgeous, serene stay, and when the Fourth of July passes without a single firework (on behalf of my anxiety-ridden coonhound, I’d like to thank the Florida Parks Service), I’m already trying to plan a trip back, ashamed that I’d basically forgotten we’d camped there before.

I will not forget again.