Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Pizza on the Grill


I know, it's not technically summer, but for all practical purposes, it is here in Tennessee. The temperatures are in the 80s or higher, and everyone is spending more and more time outside. It's no exception for B and me. Our latest ritual a few nights a week has been unwinding with dinner on the patio. We (usually I), grill something yummy - chicken, burgers, salmon, shrimp, steaks, veggies, you name it - for dinner, we turn Pandora on my phone, and we relax outside for awhile with dinner, cold drinks, and music.

Oh the wild and crazy lifestyle of a late 20s/early 30s couple. 

What can I say? We're people who enjoy simple pleasures. It's even more fun when we have friends over to join us.

Given our summer evening ritual, I was excited when on my recent TJ Maxx/Homegoods treasure hunt (always a good time), I found a ton of grilling tools in the clearance area. Jackpot! Among other things, one tool that especially intrigued me was a grilling pizza pan. Hmm...

While not exactly the same thing, grilled pizza makes me think of the restaurants that offer brick oven or wood fired pizza. B and I love that kind of crispy, fresh pizza, so the idea of recreating something similar at home sounded interesting.

Now, this isn't the first time I've tried making pizza at home. When I was young, I lived in a fairly remote small town. We didn't have restaurants nearby (over 45 minutes away!), so we didn't eat out much. When I was in grade school, my Mom made her own pizza dough, my sister and I (and perhaps friends staying over) would help top it, and we'd enjoy it with a movie. I'm tellin ya, homemade pizza + the Lion King was a good night back in those days. Exciting times.

After I got married, I tried recreating homemade pizza with little success. It wouldn't get crispy, it would stick to the pan, or be too doughy. I'd given up a couple of years ago, but maybe this grilled concept would work.

I bought the pan and told B about it. I was surprised that he was pretty excited about it since my last pizza attempts hadn't gone so well. In fact, he was so excited that when we were at Kroger together (usually he views grocery shopping as pleasurable as a root canal), he started talking about the toppings he wanted on it. He disappeared for a few minutes, came back with half a pound of prosciutto from the deli (a little more than necessary), and was happily nibbling on a sample they had given him. 

Oh Beebs. It doesn't take much to make him happy.

In addition to the prosciutto, I stocked up on flour, yeast, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, and veggies for the pizza.

Warning: This isn't a weeknight dinner

Now that we were all stocked up on ingredients, we were excited to try this new creation. One Wednesday night, when we didn't have running practice or other plans, B suggested I try making the pizza. I Googled grilled pizza recipes. I followed the ingredients for the pizza dough recipe from this article (although I didn't follow the grilling instructions or toppings from that article). 

I dissolved a packet of yeast into the warm water, measured out my salt and flour (I actually used King Arthur whole wheat white flour to make it a whole wheat pizza), and mixed them together. This dough was a little tough. I don't make bread much, but I kneaded the dough to the best of my ability. It took awhile - over 7 minutes of kneading for it to look even remotely soft and smooth. 

I realized this recipe wasn't going to be feasible that night when I realized it had to rise for over 2 hours. It was already almost 7 PM when I started, so this wasn't going to work. I decided to abort mission and do something else for dinner. I still allowed the dough to rise that evening. To provide a warm environment for it to rise, I turned the oven to 300 degrees, and set the bowl of dough on top of the stove. As the recipe recommended, I brushed the dough with olive oil and covered it with plastic wrap (warning - any part of the dough not covered will get crusty - not in a good way). Once it was done rising, I placed it in the fridge to save for the weekend.

Note - that recipe actually makes enough dough for 3-4 pizzas, depending on the thickness you prefer. Once the dough has risen, you can actually freeze what you don't need using these instructions. That's what I did. With dough already prepared, this could theoretically be a quicker dinner.

Ready to Grill

Finally, this Saturday was a perfect opportunity to try this new creation. It was one of those perfect lazy Saturdays. We ran in the morning, followed by breakfast and a nap. I was so lazy, that when I washed my hair that day, I didn't even dry it. I let it air dry and put it up in a messy bun. Perfect conditions for a relaxing patio evening!

It was time to pull out all of my ingredients. To make this recipe healthier and tastier, I used as many whole, fresh ingredients as possible. I should also warn you I went a little toppings-overboard. You can use whatever toppings you desire.

B is a carnivore who has to have meat on pizza. While not the healthiest thing in the world, at least B picked out a natural variety of prosciutto by Boar's Head, which states on their website that salt is the only added ingredient.

I can do meat, but I love veggies on pizza. Solution: I did both. I would have loved to add olives (my all-time favorite food) if I'd had them on hand. Next time. This could easily be a vegetarian dish by simply omitting the prosciutto.

I used:
  • 1/4-1/3 of this pizza dough recipe, using whole wheat white flour, already risen
  • 6 oz tomato or pizza sauce (I used canned sauce from Trader Joe's - sorry authentic Italian chefs! At least TJ's is a little more natural)
  • 1 3/4 oz. fresh mozzarella, packed in water (you could use shredded, but I thought fresh was delicious)
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • A sprinkle of a garlic herb blend
  • 1/8-1/4 lb prosciutto (I used a little less than half of what B bought at the store), torn into small pieces
    1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • Olive oil to drizzle
I pulled the dough out of the fridge and warmed it the same way I let it rise - on top of the oven.  I drizzled the tomatoes with olive oil and roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, and set the dough on top of the oven.

While warming, I got the rest of my ingredients ready. I pulled the basil from my herb garden and chopped it up. I sliced the mozzarella and blotted it dry with paper towels. I tore the prosciutto into pieces. Finally, I pulled the rest of the ingredients together

Once the dough was warm, I drizzled olive oil on the pizza pan, pressed the dough to spread it out over the pan, and brushed the top of the crust with olive oil.

Then I headed outside to the grill to get it ready. While I followed the ingredients of the dough recipe, I went rogue on my grilling technique. After reading several articles on grilled pizza, I decided to preheat the (gas) grill to about 500 degrees.

Once it was ready, I placed the pan on the grill, closed the grill, and left it in there for about 3-4 minutes. 

At that point, the crust started puffing up and the bottom was a little brown.

I flipped the crust over, and grilled for another 3 minutes. 

Now, I pulled the crust out of the grill and onto a trivet on the patio table. I then topped with ingredients


Cheese and herbs (on a side note, I have never understood why people would ask for no cheese on pizza, or pick it off. Not judging, just trying to understand. Why oh why?)



And finally, veggies - roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach

Now it was back on the grill for another 4-5 minutes (I was shooting for 4 but got distracted. Typical me. It may have been 4.5).

I placed it back on the table, let it rest for a few minutes, and it was ready to slice and enjoy. I served with red pepper and Parmesan.

The result? I was pleasantly surprised! It was crispy on the outside, and dense and chewy (but not tough) on the inside. My only area of improvement will be to better dry the mozzarella. Even with the blotting, it was a little watery after cooking. Only mildly so, however.

The only unhappy campers were Coco and Cali, who wanted to join us outside. They are indoor kitties, and since we don't have a fence, we can only give them occasional supervised visits.

B and I settled in with our music, pizza, and drinks and had a great evening! We even stayed out later in the evening playing a rowdy game of Uno. It got a little out of control.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed our summer pizza party and look forward to trying again, perhaps next time with friends! If you're looking for something different and fun to do on the grill, I recommend trying it!

Have you grilled pizza before? What recipe or technique worked best for you?


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  1. Mmm that looks awesome! We just got a little portable Coleman grill and have been experimenting with food on it. Pizza sounds awesome!

    My boyfriend Brandon and I are just like you and your husband. Chilling out with good food, drinks, music and friends is what we love to do!

    1. Thanks! I was surprised by how good it turned out! Definitely worth a try.

      How funny we both have a Brandon in our lives! I agree - chilling outside with yummy food, good company and music is the best way to spend a warm evening!