Two Pizzas

#SummerwithHeinens: Grilled Pizza Two Ways

I’ve been making pizza for about 25 years. I never trusted those corporate pizza guys to make a quality pie, so when my kids were young, I’d make our own pizza on Friday nights. They thought this was bogus of course. Why couldn’t they have Domino’s or Papa Johns? But before they knew it, the doorbell would be ringing and instead of pizza delivery my kids’ friends would be there on the doorstep looking for a slice of homemade pizza, so then it became cool.

It really isn’t hard to make pizza now that you can buy pizza dough at the grocery store and it’s a luxury to top it to your very own special tastes. Want more cheese? Load it on. No anchovies for you? Just skip them. Pineapple and ham? You are the boss of your pizza.

In summer you can turn your grill into a pizza oven. Fun and fast to cook on the grill, pizza is easy to make for a crowd, especially in summer when avoiding a messy, hot kitchen. As my kids would now tell you, it’s the cool thing to do in the hot summer heat.

Pizza Margherita

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Hands on time: 30 minutes

With so few ingredients, a Margherita pizza is a lesson in restraint and should showcase the best ingredients. Though not traditional, I can’t resist slathering the dough with pesto, amping up the herbal quotient in a much bigger way than a few leaves of basil ever could. Top with vine ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for what many consider to be the perfect slice.

It’s that easy: I talk about using a peel in both these recipes, so a little clarification may be in order. A peel is a wide flat metal or wooden board with a handle that bakers use to place breads and pizzas in and out of the oven. Artisan breads and pizzas are usually baked on a concrete or clay slab (it makes them crispier), so they need a platform to help place them in and out of the oven. For many years I used a flat cookie sheet with no sides to scoop my pizzas in and out of the heat. It worked fine but a peel makes the job a bit easier since it has that long handle. If you plan to make lots of pizza, buy a peel. You won’t be sorry.

Ingredients
*Makes two 12-inch pizzas

  • One recipe Pizza Dough (below) or two bags thawed frozen pizza dough from the refrigerated case left at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup pesto, store-bought or homemade
  • 4 medium vine ripe tomatoes (enough to cover the top of the pizza), thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 kalamata olives, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Turn a gas grill to high or start a charcoal grill with the briquettes mounded to one side. Make sure it’s really hot before you start grilling. Oil the grates to help keep the pizza from sticking.

Divide the dough in half if homemade or start with one bag of purchased dough and roll out it out on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Brush it with some of the olive oil and flip it over, oiled side down onto a sheet of parchment paper then brush the top with a little more oil so that both sides are oiled. Salt and pepper the dough lightly. Slide the dough on the parchment to a pizza peel or rimless cookie sheet to make transporting it to the grill easier. Using the parchment paper as a guide, pick it up by two corners and lay the dough top side down onto the hot grates and carefully peel the paper from the dough. Close the lid and grill the pizza for about 2 minutes or just until the dough is set with grill marks and no longer floppy. The top will be bubbly. Loosen the dough from the grill with a long, thin edged spatula so that it doesn’t tear. Transfer the dough back onto the parchment lined peel or cookie sheet and flip it over so that it’s cooked side up (with the grill marks on top). Repeat with the other piece of dough. Turn off one side of the grill.

Brush the top of the pizzas with a little more oil and rub the garlic over the tops. Spread a thin layer of pesto over the pizzas and top each with tomato, salt, pepper, olives, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Slide the pizza back onto the grill, discarding the parchment, close the lid and cook until the bottom is browned and crispy and toppings are hot, about 5 minutes. If the bottom starts to burn, move the pizza over to the cooler side that is turned off or away from the coals if cooking with charcoal and finish cooking there. Check frequently by lifting up the pizza with a spatula to make sure that the pizza doesn’t burn or overbrown. The idea is to use the grill as an oven at this point so try to keep the heat under the lid good and hot.

Loosen the dough from the grates with a thin-edged spatula and scoop the pizza off the grill with the help of the peel or cookie sheet and let sit for about 3 minutes before slicing. Grill the remaining pizza the same way. Serve hot.

In the Glass: Pizza and beer are always a good match. I’m usually happiest drinking a longneck but go ahead and drink whatever works for you. It’s pizza night!

Pizza with Fig, Brie and Arugula

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Hands on time: 20 minutes

My husband didn’t quite know what to think about this pizza and salad combo at first, but after a few bites he totally got it. Crispy pizza with sweet figs, brie, red onion, topped with an herbal salad and a sprinkle of Parmesan is a marvelous play of textures and tastes. We especially like the peppery arugula paired with all the cheesy sweetness that lies underneath.

It’s that easy: Rolling the pizza dough thinly and then transferring it to the grate or oven quickly will result in a thinner crust. If you allow the pizza to sit for even 5 minutes after rolling it out, it will rise higher, resulting in a more “bready” pizza. So if you prefer a more cracker-like crust, work fast. If not, go ahead and revel in the dough.

Ingredients
*Makes two 12-inch pizzas

  • 10 dried figs, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • One recipe Pizza Dough (below) or two bags pizza dough from the refrigerated case at the grocery store left at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fig jam or spread
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz Brie, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups packed baby arugula
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Turn a gas grill to high or start a charcoal grill with the briquettes mounded to one side. Make sure it’s really hot before you start grilling. Oil the grates to help keep the pizza from sticking.

Soak the figs in 1 cup very hot water for about 10 minutes to soften them. Drain.

Divide the dough in half if homemade or start with one bag of purchased dough and roll out it out on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Brush it with some of the olive oil and flip it over, oiled side down onto a sheet of parchment paper then brush the top with a little more oil so that both sides are oiled. Salt and pepper the dough lightly. Slide the dough on the parchment to a pizza peel or rimless cookie sheet to make transporting it to the grill easier. Using the parchment paper as a guide, pick it up by two corners and lay the dough top side down onto the hot grates and carefully peel the paper from the dough. Close the lid and grill the pizza for about 2 minutes or just until the dough is set with grill marks and no longer floppy. The top will be bubbly. Loosen the dough from the grill with a long, thin edged spatula so that it doesn’t tear. Transfer the dough back onto the parchment lined peel or cookie sheet and flip it over so that it’s cooked side up (with the grill marks on top). Repeat with the other piece of dough. Turn off one side of the grill.

Brush the top of the pizzas with a little more oil and rub the garlic over the tops. Lay down a thin layer of jam on both pizzas and top each with figs, onion, salt, pepper and brie.

Slide the pizza back onto the grill, discarding the parchment, close the lid and cook until the bottom is browned and crispy and toppings are hot, about 5 minutes. If the bottom starts to burn, move the pizza over to the cooler side that is turned off or away from the coals and finish cooking there. Check frequently by lifting up the pizza with a spatula to make sure that the pizza doesn’t burn or overbrown.

While the pizza bakes, toss the arugula in a medium bowl with the lemon and drizzle of 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper.

Loosen the dough from the grates with the spatula and scoop the pizza off the grill with the help of the peel or cookie sheet. Top with the arugula salad, and sprinkle with the Parmesan. It’s nice when the heat from the pizza wilts the arugula a bit so you can wait a minute or two before cutting it into slices. Grill the remaining pizza the same way. Serve hot.

In the glass: There’s a whole lot of sweet going on here with all the figs so a sparkler like Gruet Brut will make this dinner seem like a party. Let the cares of your day float away on the bubbles.

Basic Pizza Dough

Start to finish: 1 hour 25 minutes
Hands on time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
*Makes two 12-inch pizza shells

  • 3 1/3 cups unbleached flour (such as King Arthur)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1-1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 packet dried yeast or a scant teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to blend the salt evenly into the flour.

Add the sugar and yeast to the warm water and stir. Allow the water-yeast mixture to sit for about 3 or 4 minutes and when foamy on top stir in the olive oil.

Turn on the processor and quickly pour the yeast-water through the feed tube. Process just until mixed, about 15 seconds Remove the dough from the processor and knead until the dough tightens and you can form it into a loose ball. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Or you can mix the dough in a stand mixer, adding the yeast mixture to the flour and salt and mixing with the paddle. Once the dough is mixed switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on the machine for 2 or 3 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and divide it into two pieces. Cover if not shaping and cooking right away as the dough will form a crust and won’t be as nice to work with. Use as directed.

Make-ahead: The dough can be made a day ahead and kept in a bowl, tightly covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Allow to come to room temperature before using. The dough can also be frozen for up to 4 weeks. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before using.

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