Beautiful Day

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summertime Grilled Pizza

We have a weekly tradition in our home of making homemade pizzas.  It is our Saturday family night.  Early in our marriage, Tender Warrior would tell me how his mother had certain nights of the week that were always the same dinner.  In his household he had "hamburger nights" among others.  At first my youthful and creative self thought that sounded kind of boring.  "You mean you eat hamburgers every week on that day?"

Now....well, perhaps I am a wiser mother.  Or at the very least, I became more practical.  Pizza night is our only regular mealtime rite, except for Pancake Saturday on Saturday mornings (but even then we are might be waffles, or puffed pancakes, or crepes among a few other choices).  My children enjoy anticipating it each week.  I like that I don't have to think about what's for dinner on Saturday.  And we usually try to make enough to have leftovers on Sundays, which keeps Sunday meals very simple, providing me a bit of sabbath respite from meal planning and preparations. 

In the wintertime, heating the oven to such a hot temperature also keeps our house extra warm on Saturday evenings.  But what about summer?  I sure don't want my house extra hot!  This is where the gas grill comes in quite handy.

Now that I make my No-Knead Pizza Dough, I love the extra simplicity!  Just throw the dough ingredients in a bowl, stir it up and let it sit for at least two hours.  It's wonderful!  When 5:00 rolls around, the dough is ready for the kitchen artists to go to work.

How to make grilled pizza?  Read on.  Here's what's handy to have:

A pizza screen (I got mine at Bob's Red Mill) for easy baking and moving of pizza doughs
A pizza peel to slide pizzas on and off of screens or grill racks
Enough dough for your family size
Some olive oil and a basting brush
Your favorite ingredients to top pizzas with

This week we had the always-expected Hawaiian style pizza for the children (sans Canadian Bacon....I really wish it were easier and cheaper to find some that doesn't have nitrates in it), and a spinach and feta on ranch dressing pizza.  Most weeks I have sausage, which I make myself, but we ran out at present and I need to make some more!

Preheat your grill to high to medium high heat.  You want it about 450 degrees.

Roll out your dough and move it to a pizza screen.  Prick the top with a fork all around, or else you might end up with a puffed pita bread!

Grill the crust for about 4-5 minutes.  Until you gain some experience, you may want to watch your crust more closely so it doesn't burn.  When it's lightly browned, remove from grill.  Flip your crust over so the browned side is now up and brush lightly with olive oil.  The bottom sides of cookie sheets are helpful places to put crusts for assembling pizzas.  Put the next crust on the grill and repeat.  When the first round of crust baking is done, you might want to turn off your grill to save gas while you assemble pizzas.  If you have a charcoal grill, obviously leave it alone (disclaimer:  I have never tried this with a charcoal grill).

Now "decorate" your pizzas to your heart's content.  I had a Little Princess helper and she enjoyed it very much! 

When we got to the last pizza, I decided to make it a half-and-half pizza because I ran out of enough ranch dressing for a full spinach-feta pizza for this one.  Upon noticing that this pizza had red sauce on half and green spinach on the other half, my little imaginative princess quickly declared that this was The Christmas Pizza!!  Oh, she was full of smiles and glee.  Here, she says it is "snowing" on the pizza..... (that would be the cheese).

When your pizzas are finished, turn your grill back on and bring it to temperature (450 degrees).  Cook for 4-5 minutes or until toppings are satisfactorily melted and crust is golden brown.

There are plenty of good pizza crust recipes out there.  Here's my favorite method:

No-Knead Pizza Dough (by inspiration of Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5 Minutes a Day)

4 cups unbleached white flour
3-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1-1/2 TBSP RealSalt
1 TBSP yeast (I like SAF brand)
3-1/2 cups lukewarm water

In a large bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed and it starts to form a ball.  It will be sticky, but you don't want it extremely "gooey," nor do you want it too dry, so add extra flour or water as needed.  Cover lightly, but not airtight, and let rest for 2 hours.

Divide dough into 4 portions.  Roll out each to a large pizza size.  You will likely need flour on your hands and workspace.  This dough is very soft, but very fun to work with.  It should roll or pat out easily.  I usually need to flour my hands several times as I work, as well as flour the rolling pin.  Also watch the underside of your dough so that it doesn't stick.  You want to be able to lift it off the surface easily.

I hope you might make some fun memories with your loved ones by trying this out.  If you make enough pizzas, you can even count some exercise for all the walking back and forth between the grill and your workstation!  And though it might be predictable, if you have a  creative streak like me, you can find plenty to do with pizzas each and every week.  Buon appetito!   


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