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Grilled Pizzas with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella

by Joseph Erdos
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grilledpizzaI love making pizza, not just because it's fun, but also because I think mine can rival any pizza parlor's. I have the entire set-up, including a pizza stone and peel. But this time I put all that aside to try something new. Instead of the typical way of baking pizza, have you ever tried grilling it? For years I've been told that grilled pizza is the best, but I haven't actually done it myself until now. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the outcome.

Grilling lends pizza a smoky, charry flavor and makes the crust crispier than baking. This is pizza grilled directly on the grates, not on a stone. With this method you grill the dough on one side, then flip it over and top the just-grilled side with toppings. My recipe takes on the flavors of Caprese salad with slices of fresh mozzarella and tomato. Instead of tomato sauce, the base is pesto—it's a much more fresh flavor especially if you make the pesto yourself, which I do.

Recently Fleischmann's sent me packets of their new yeast, Pizza Crust Yeast. I was intrigued to say the least. Thinking it might just be a gimmick, I gave it a go anyway. Usually when you make pizza, the process of waiting for the dough to rise takes up a lot of time—it's almost as involved as making bread! But with this new yeast, all you have to do is mix together the ingredients, knead it a little, and you are ready to make pizza. Try it!

 

Grilled Pizzas with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella

for the dough:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/3 cups very warm water (130 degrees F.)
1/3 cup olive oil

for the toppings:
1/2 cup Perfect Pesto
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, sliced

Combine half the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and oil in a mixing bowl. Mix until combined. Gradually stir in the remaining flour until combined. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough is silky smooth. Almost all of the flour should now be worked into the dough.

Heat a grill at medium-high heat.

Divide the dough into quarters and mold each piece into mini pizzas. Keep unused portions covered with a kitchen towel to prevent drying. Form a piece of dough by using a rolling pin or by stretching the edges and working dough around in a circular motion. The dough is easier to grill when it's oval or rectangular in shape.

Place the rolled-out dough onto a pizza peel or tray and carry to the grill. Moisten a paper towel with a little oil and brush the grates. Lift the dough carefully onto the hot grates and cook until the bottom is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using long-handled tongs, lift the crust from the grates and place on the peel with the grilled-side facing up. Spread with desired amount of pesto and top with slices of mozzarella and tomato.

Using the peel, carefully slide pizza back onto the grill. Cover and cook until the bottom of the crust is lightly browned and the cheese has slightly melted, about 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Serve each pizza immediately as it comes off the grill. Yield: 4 pizzas; 6 to 8 servings.

 

Joseph Erdos is a New York–based writer and editor, butabove all a gastronomer and oenophile. He shares his passion for foodon his blog, Gastronomer's Guide , which features unique recipes and restaurant reviews among many other musings on the all-encompassing topic of food.

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