May 25, 2010

Grilled Pizza

Grilling season is now here for most of us. Actually we grill all year round (one major benefit to living in beautiful Arizona), and grill up just about any and everything you could think of. One of the reasons I love to grill because the cleanup is super easy (who want's to be in the kitchen cleaning off a million pots and pans), and there is something about that grilled flavor that no other cooking method can duplicate. Plus I love being outside, and cooking outside is even better. I know a lot of people are hesitant to grill because they are afraid of burning the food, or think it is a hassle, but let me tell you nicely that you are wrong.

Grilling is a very easy process if you use a few simple techniques. You want to be sure that the temperature is appropriate for what you are cooking. For example, if you were going to grill a pork tenderloin, you would want a medium heat so that the meat can cook through without burning. Also, you want to start with a really clean grill, you can clean it by turning the heat to high and burning off any residue with a grill brush. And lastly, you want your meat to sit out a few minutes before grilling, because cold meat will seize up and shrink on you if it goes from cold to hot. Most nights we grill chicken, but this past weekend we grilled pizzas. I know it sounds weird, but grilling pizzas is so much fun, and surprisingly enough your finished product tastes closer to a brick oven than any other method I have tried (besides obviously using a brick oven itself).

 I think the best thing about grilling pizzas is that you can lay out a million different toppings, and everyone gets to prepare their pizza to their own liking, placing whatever toppings they want on top. We made ours with flatbread we had left over from the last time we grilled pizzas, and then some pizza dough that was fresh from our local grocers bakery. I served our pizzas with an arugula salad with pears and walnuts, dressed in a homemade goat cheese vinaigrette dressing. We had every topping imaginable from caramelized onions, spicy sausage, and pancetta, to fresh beefsteak tomatoes and basil. The deal is, make it how you want. You can be as extravagant or as simple as you want. The easiest way to make the pizzas is with fresh dough from your grocery store, or your favorite pizza shop, but if you want to make a homemade dough you are more than welcome. Also, if you want be more on the healthier side, you can use wheat pita's in place if the dough. All in all, grilled pizzas are surprisingly light and fresh, and do not hold that same greasy, heavy, reputation that pizzas usually receive. So take it easy tonight, put your oven to rest, grill up some pizzas, open your favorite bottle of wine, and enjoy the beautiful evening outside. And sorry for my lack of picture this time, somehow the evening slipped away, and by the time I finished my last bite of pizza I realized I had failed to get many pictures.

Grilled Pizzas
Below I have also included the recipes for my arugula salad with the goat cheese vinaigrette, and caramelized onions. As for other toppings for your pizza, you can use anything you like. Some of my favorites are: grilled chicken, basil, spinach, any kind of cheese, and salad (yes I top my pizza with the dressed salad as soon as it comes off the grill, you should give it a try!)

For the pizzas:
Pre made pizza dough, flatbread, or pita bread
Tomato sauce, pizza sauce, or Extra virgin olive oil (mixed with 2 cloves of minced garlic and pinch of salt), for brushing pizza
Mozzarella, goat, or any of your favorite cheeses (keep in mind that you may want to use something that melts well)
Any other of your favorite toppings
 Some good pairings: (1) Mozzarella, tomato, basil
                                   (2) Mozzarella or fontina, Caramelized onions, spicy sausage
                                   (3) Goat cheese, Caramelized onions, walnuts, and fresh spinach

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Roll pizza dough out into rounds (about 6-8 inches wide), and place on grill. Get all of your toppings out and ready because once you start cooking, it goes quickly. Place two rounds of dough on the grill, and cook on one side about 3 minutes.* Remove dough from the grill (only one side is cooked at this point), and brush the cooked side with preferred sauce, and any other toppings. Place back on grill (uncooked side down), and grill about 5 more minutes until the underside is cooked and the cheese has melted. 

*If you are using flatbread or pitas, they will cook very fast, so cook them as stated above, but decrease grilling time by half. 

Arugula salad with pears, walnuts, and goat cheese vinaigrette 

This salad is delicious served alongside your pizzas, or as I like to do, and place it right on top of my warm pizza. The warm pizza just barely wilts the arugula, and the combination of salad and pizza all at once is absolutely perfect!

4-5 cups Arugula
1 Pear, cored and de-seeded, and cut into thin slices
1 cup walnuts, you can toast them to enhance the flavor
Goat cheese vinaigrette:
1 clove of garlic
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons honey
3-4 oz Goat cheese
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

To make the dressing, pulse the garlic, salt, oregano, pepper, vinegars, lemon juice, and honey in a food processor or blender. Once mixture is smooth, add in the goat cheese and pulse until creamy. Add in olive oil and blend/pulse until olive oil has emulsified (there is no separation). 

Caramelized onions
Caramelizing onions makes them perfectly sweet, and the perfect topping to pizza

1-2 onions (I used yellow, but you can use white or red as well)
2-3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar for each onion used
Salt and Pepper

Peel onion and cut in half, placing cut side down. Cut each half into thin slices lengthwise. Coat the bottom of a large skillet in olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion slices, and stir to coat all of the onions in the oil. Let cook over medium heat for about ten minutes stirring occasionally, until softened. Add in a sugar and a pinch of both salt and pepper, and lower heat to medium low, and let cook another 25-40 minutes stirring every minute or so until onions have turned a caramel color, and are completely softened. If you feel like the onions need more liquid along the way , you can add a bit more oil to the pan to help moisten the onions. You want to make sure to caramelize the onions, not burn them. 

1 comment:

  1. Looks so yummy Missy! I just got a new grill, maybe I will give grilled pizzas a try! :D