End of the Harvest Grilled Pizza

End of harvest Pizza

End of the Harvest Grilled Pizza

By Michele Pryse

Michele is a Family Food Educator at Oregon State University Extension Office here in Southern Oregon.

We have been blessed to have such  extended sunny summer weather - great for ripening tomatoes!  Usually I have many, many green tomatoes on the vine at this time of the season that I know will never, ever ripen.  To some extent that's okay, because we do have some wonderful recipes for *green tomatoes, like the Green Gringo Sauce recipe I shared at our 'Saucy Tomato' class recently.  And it's fun to make fermented Green Tomato 'Olives' with the remaining cherry or grape tomatoes.  (We have a whole cookbook devoted to green tomatoes as well.)  This year it appears most of my tomatoes will ripen before our first killing frost - yay!  This weather is also excellent for ripening seed crops:  melons, beans, eggplant, squash, flowers.  These are heirlooms that I grow from seed each year.  And my pumpkins and gourds are looking fat and sassy.  The Winter Luxury Pie pumpkins, small 4-5 lb. fruit that are a pretty netted peachy color are ripe, and the Musquee de Provence pumpkins are beginning to color up as well. But there's one this weather is not good for.  Pizza.  Heating the oven to 450 degrees F just creates too much heat in the house yet.  There is a way to make great pizza; pizza with a crackling crust and a tang of smoke, cheese that bubbles in pools around bits of garden veggies, laced with fresh basil.  The BBQ grill!  I developed this method several years ago during a hot, hot week in August when Cameo and Miriam each had a friend over for the week-end.  They'd spent the day playing at the River at nearby Touvelle Park, and wanted our traditional Friday night pizza for dinner.  "Oh no, girls, it's way too hot to turn the oven on," I remember protesting.  And Sam said, "Why don't we try cooking them on the grill? You make the pizza; I'll take care of grilling them."  And so we each did our part - and it worked!  I've attached the recipe for you to play with.  One of the easiest and more authentic versions is Pizza Margherita.  Simply top the dough with sliced garden tomatoes and small chunks of mozzarella cheese.  After grilling, add a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves.  Mmmm... There is also a wonderful book, 'Artisan Pizza & Flatbreads in 5 Minutes a Day' by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois, that offers up a wealth of recipes and details many of the finer points of grilling breads.  The book can be requested through the library system, or purchased on Amazon. 

Whole Wheat Pizza - on the grill!

Take-and-bake pizza is a welcome convenience, but when the weather is scorching hot, who wants to heat up the kitchen?  I’ve worked out a method for baking delicious pizza on the grill.  If the instructions appear lengthy it’s because I tried to explain in detail for your success.  Grills differ in their baking qualities.  You may need to tinker with the controls until you achieve an ideal temperature that works for you every time.  Then it becomes easy, truly.  And practice makes perfect.  This is a great family activity in the summer - you can let each person top their own pizza.  {Summer weather aside, this recipe also works well in a preheated 450◦F oven.  A baking stone is nice, but not essential.  I like to use a 16” perforated pizza pan, lightly oiled.  One batch of dough makes a generous 16” pizza, done in 12-15 minutes.}

For the crust:                                                    

  • 2 cups bread flour                                              
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour                                 
  • 2 heaping Tbs. flax seed meal                               
  • ½ tsp sea salt                                                    
  • 2 Tbs sugar                                                                         
  • 2 ½ tsp instant yeast                                                                       
  • 1 ½ cups warm water                                                     
  • 1 Tbs olive oil                                                                                     

Topping suggestions:

  • 1/3 cup *pizza sauce or 3 Tbs pesto
  • pre-shredded mozzarella or “pizza blend” cheese
  • browned Italian sausage, ground beef, chicken
  • sliced pepperoni , salami, deli meat cut in strips
  • your favorite veggies- thinly sliced zucchini, yellow
  • squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, kale ribbons  
  • baby spinach leaves, sliced olives, artichoke hearts
  • fresh basil, snipped chives, rosemary leaves...

For rolling:  all purpose flour, parchment paper, rolling pin

  1. Place flours, flax seed meal, salt, sugar, and yeast in a mixing bowl.  Add water and olive oil and beat until smooth, either by hand with a wooden spoon or with a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with a flat paddle.  When dough forms a ball (it will still be sticky) switch to the dough hook and knead by machine 5-6 minutes, or turn it onto lightly greased and floured counter and knead by hand 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  2. Wash your mixing bowl, dry it well, and grease it.  Place dough in bowl, turning it over to coat with oil.  Cover with a bread cloth or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1 hour.
  3. Turn dough out onto lightly greased work surface and gently deflate with the palms of your hands.  Divide dough cleanly into 2 or 3 even portions.  A chef’s knife work well for this - carefully grease the blade first.  Shape each portion into a smooth ball, tucking the ends under, and place on a square of parchment paper.  Gently roll into an 8-10” circle on the parchment with a lightly greased rolling pin.  If dough sticks, sprinkle very lightly with all purpose flour.  If the paper slides around you can mist your work surface with water to provide traction.  Repeat for remaining pizzas.
  4. Preheat your BBQ grill on medium-high for 10-15 minutes.  Here comes the fun!  Top each circle of dough with a small amount of sauce (Too much sauce makes soggy pizza), a sprinkle of cheese, and your favorite toppings.  For well-baked pizza be spare with your toppings, keeping them thin in the center and thicker around the edges.  Slide a pizza with its parchment backing onto a rimless baking sheet and head outside.
  5. Reduce grill heat to low, slide pizza with parchment paper onto the grill and immediately close the lid.  Depending on the size of your grill you may have room for 2 at a time.  Check your pizza(s) in 12 minutes, rotating them on the grill if necessary for even baking.  Don’t open the lid unnecessarily.  Pizza is done when bottom crust is browned and cheese is melted, perhaps a little bubbly.  Remove pizza and slide it onto a wooden board or cooling rack (discarding parchment) for serving.  Continue baking remaining pizzas. 
  6. Congratulations - you did it!  Now dive in and enjoy your homemade pizza!

*Note: 

If you don’t can your own pizza sauce you’ll find it pricey in the supermarket.  An easy alternative is to open an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, stir in 1 tsp olive oil, ¼ tsp garlic salt (We like Lawry’s), ¼ tsp dried basil, ¼ tsp dried oregano, a sprinkle of onion powder, 1 tsp sugar, and several grinding of black pepper.

 

 

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