Garden Fresh Grilled Pizza
There are few things that make me happier than firing up the garden grill for the first spring barbeque of the year. On Saturday the temperature skimmed 60 degrees and friends descended en masse, wine and sausage in hand, to bask in the jacketless dusk.
The tricky part about having a garden bbq in New York in March is there isn’t yet any garden. With a little improvisation and a few carefully arranged houseplants, I recreated the illusion of summer so successfully that I was asked more than once if my pizza toppings were fresh from the garden.
I attribute this in no small part to the dazzlingly fresh flavors of my grilled pizzas (ok, and a little bit to the wine). The thin, crispy dough is grilled quickly, drizzled with olive oil, and then heaped with garden goodness: arugula, cherry tomatoes, basil, shallots, onion slivers, cheese, and topped with a sprinkle of red wine vinegar.
Notice there’s no sauce. You can throw a dash on if you’re partial of course – this is a mix and match kind of operation – but there’s really no need.
The pizzas are cheap and cheerful, and astonishingly good. So good, in fact, that I set a new personal best by eating my pizzas no fewer than three times over a 24-hour period. I’m not necessarily advocating this approach, but I do recommend you try it once. You’ll never look at pizza in the same way again.
Garden Fresh Grilled Pizza
Makes 2 pizzas
One package of Trader Joe’s prepared pizza dough*
1 cup cherry tomatoes, preferably assorted colors
1 small onion, cut in half and slivered
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 cups arugula
Large bunch of basil, roughly chopped
2 cups grated parmesan
2 cups grated mozzarella
Red wine vinegar
* Pizza dough is very easy to make, and I often make my own. But since it has to be done ahead of time, I find Trader Joe’s to be a simple, convenient alternative.
Prepare all toppings, and put them in prep bowls by the grill. Soak chopped shallots in a mixture of red wine vinegar and water, to take the bite out.
Preheat the grill to medium high, and brush with Pam or olive oil.
Roll out dough into two 12-inch pies. You will want it to be fairly thin, but don’t exceed the size of your grill. I roll all my pies out at once and then layer them with saran wrap in a large, flat-bottomed fry pan.
Carry pies out to grill, and lay directly on the grill. After about a minute, rotate pie 180 degrees to make sure it’s cooking evenly. Dough will begin to puff in big bubbles, 2-3 minutes.
Slide off the grill and flip over, reducing heat to low. Drizzle with olive oil, cover with cheese, herbs and vegetables, and sprinkle with red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.
Close the grill top to let the toppings warm, 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.