Grilled Pizza


When you need a meal on a hot summer day, then your grill is your best friend. I really believe that nothing is more of a culinary blank slate than a grilled pizza crust. You can easily please your whole family by splitting the pizza dough into separate pieces for each family member and letting them built a custom made creation. Generally when I do pizza I just pull everything I have out of the fridge, add a little cheese and pizza dough and that’s my topping bar. However, today the fridge was empty so I had to get creative. Little Guy helped me prep the toppings and then we built them with each family member’s preferences in mind. My son got Vegeriffic Veggie Sauce and a mix of cheeses. Hubby got a pizza of caramelized onion, fresh mushroom and sage with a Mascarpone-Chevre cream, and I went for a Caprese pizza with pesto, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes.

Below are recipes for the components used in these pizzas as well as recipes for the pizzas. You can use the grilling method for any toppings you want. The secret is to go easy on the toppings. Less is more with grilled pizza. Too many toppings make a heavy soggy mess out of the most carefully prepared ingredients. The recipes for the components all make either two individual pizzas or one large pizza.

Pizza Dough
Makes 2 large pizzas, or 4-6 individual pizzas

Like all my dough recipes this is written for a bread machine. For instructions on making this without a bread machine see this recipe on the King Arthur Bread website that I used as a basis for my recipe

1 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
3 cups bread flour
2 tsp instant yeast

Add ingredients to your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Set the machine to the dough cycle and press start. Watch the dough as it mixes as add more water as needed, one tablespoon at a time until the dough is soft, but not too sticky. Let the dough cycle finish. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover and let double in size – about 60 minutes. Cut dough into either two large dough balls for large pizzas or four to six smaller pieces for individual pizzas. You can store this in the refrigerator for 24 hours. You can also freeze this dough for up to two months. Move dough from freezer to fridge at least 24 hours before use.

Caramelized Onions
If your onions are not very sweet you can add 1 tsp of sugar with the salt and onion.

1 tbs olive oil
1 large sweet onion such as Vidalia or Maui (about two cups sliced)
1/4 tsp salt

Cut across the grain of the onion; this helps you get even sized strips of onion which cook more evenly. I had other pictures to show you of the caramelized onions, but they although they looked super scrumptious and smelled heavenly in person, the pictures looked less appetizing.

Slice the onion into very thin half moons. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat until the oil starts to shimmer. Add the onion and salt and stir occasionally until onions start to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and continue cook, stirring frequently, until all onions are equally dark brown but not burned about another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mild Basil Pesto
makes about 2/3 cup

Using more cheese and oil makes for a lighter than normal basil which is the perfect base for a grilled pizza.

I love pesto, but I frequently find the basil flavor too overpowering for certain uses. To balance flavors, I’ve started reducing the ratio of basil to other ingredients. The result is clearly pesto flavored, but not quite as intense. I think it’s the perfect base for my Caprese Pizza.

1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves
2 tbsp pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup high quality grated parmesan or romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Pulse the garlic clove in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add the basil and pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped, but not smooth. Add the oil and blend until a smooth paste.

Little Guy is becoming a pretty good kitchen helper!

Add cheese and pulse once or twice until just combined. Remove to a bowl and season to taste. Serve immediately or cover the top with plastic wrap, pressing it to the top of the pesto to keep it from turning brown.

Mascarpone-Chevre Cream
makes 1/2 cup

3 tbsp mascarpone cheese
3 tbsp soft creamy style goat cheese
2 tbsp half & half
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper

In a small bowl whisk together all the ingredients until smooth.

Grilled Pizzas
These recipes are scaled for large individual pizzas. They realistically feed slightly more than one adult unless she’s really hungry. I like making the pizzas this way so there is plenty for sharing.

1 recipe pizza dough (recipe above)
3 tbs olive oil
toppings (see below for instructions on how to build the different pizzas)

Heat grill on highest setting until very hot. While grill is heating cut pizza into four pieces. Roll out each dough ball until about 12″ around and 1/4″ thick. I use a rolling pin, but if you’re feeling particularly talented, you can stretch it out with your hands. Brush one side of the dough lightly with olive oil.

Pizza crusts rolled out and ready for the grill.

Once the grill is hot, place dough on grill oiled side down and cook for about four minutes, or until bottom side starts to brown and has distinct grill marks.

The first side to be grilled becomes the top side of your pizza crust.

Remove the crusts from grill and place on your work surface. Using remaining oil brush the un-grilled side of the crusts and then turn so that the grilled side is facing up on your work surface. Top with your desired toppings (see below).

Turn grill down to medium-low and place pizzas back on the grill. Cook for about 8 minutes or until bottoms are very crispy and very slightly charred in spots and the tops are cooked. Any sauce on the pizzas should be bubbling. Using tongs, carefully remove pizzas. Slice pizzas and enjoy!

Caprese Pizza
Makes 1 individual pizza

The hotter you can eat this bad boy up the better. There isn’t much better than stringy melted mozz on a great pizza!

Partially grilled pizza crust (recipe above)
1/3 cup Mild Basil Pesto (recipe above)
4 oz sliced fresh mozzarella
1 tomato, sliced into rounds

Grill pizza crust on one side. Brush un-grilled side with olive oil and flip over so grilled side is up.(see instructions on grilling pizzas above).  Spread pesto on crust so that the pesto reaches all the way to edges. Arrange the cheese over pesto so that it is 1/2 inch from edge of crust with one single piece in the middle. Place sliced tomatoes between the slices of cheese. Grill according to instructions above and serve immediately.

Mushroom Sage Pizza with Mascarpone-Chevre Cream
Makes 1 individual pizza

As pretty as this pizza is, it tasted even better!

Partially grilled pizza crust
1/4 cup Mascarpone-Chevre Cream (recipe above)
4 Cremini mushrooms, sliced
4-6 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced or torn into small pieces
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on finished pizza

Grill pizza crust on one side. Brush ungrilled side with olive oil and flip over so grilled side is up.(see instructions on grilling pizzas above). Thinly spread Mascarpone-Chevre Cream evenly over the entire pizza crust spreading it all the way to the edges. Top with sliced mushrooms, and sage . Grill according to instructions above, sprinkle with parmesan cheese to taste and serve immediately.

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