Keeping Cool With Pizza

I used to look forward to colder weather for soups and pizzas. Now, it's more about the soups and stews since I turn to my grill to keep pizzas a summer happening. If you think grilling pizzas is too intimidating, it's time to start thinking about your grill as your outdoor oven and get those pizzas ready:

Because pizza is such a versatile food, I never have the same one twice. The crust can be super thick and puffy or thin and crunchy. Sometimes it finds a happy medium in a bit of a hand-tossed way. Sauces range from traditional tomato sauce to pesto, hummus, BBQ sauce, and even ranch dressing! And toppings tend to vary so widely that I can't list them all. Instead, I'll talk about a couple of my favorite approaches and a couple of tweaks I've made along the way.

I'll refer to this first variety as my CSA helper. By August, I'm getting over-flowing CSA boxes and the vegetables are fantastic. When that happens, I add a little dried Italian seasoning to my basic crust and make some hand-tossed variety pies. Instead of sauces, I usually thinly slice ripe, juicy heirloom tomatoes and sprinkle a little fresh minced garlic and basil over the top of it. Then I grab some of my favorite veggies — peppers, sweet onions, and zucchini — and toss thin slices of them all evenly over the "sauce" layer. I'll keep the cheese light with a sprinkling of Parmesan or maybe some chèvre.

My second suggestion takes things in a different direction. Instead of veggie-heavy, I make a couple of pies sporting a crust like the one outlined below with a Parmesan-dusted edge. Then I take my favorite BBQ sauce and add a little hot sauce to it and I've got a sweet and spicy sauce for my pizzas. Over that, I layer cooked, crumbled pork sausage, crispy fried bacon bits, tender chunks of chicken, and lots of thinly sliced red onion. Then I top it all with generous amounts of grated sharp cheddar cheese. Suddenly, meat lover's pizza has a decidedly smoky, spicy touch to it.

Now it's your turn. Fire up your grill and turn your imagination loose!

Grilled Pizza

For the crust:
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. granulated sugar
  • 4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 c. water
  • 3 T. olive oil
For the sauce & toppings:
    Rather than offer a list here, I'll simply say that topping pizzas is fun. Choose your favorites. Go traditional, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil. Try something different, with BBQ sauce, onions, chicken, and cheddar. Add extra meat. Skip the meat. Try a dessert pizza! The options are only limited by your imagination.

If you have a bread machine, making the crust is super simple. Combine all of the crust ingredients in the bread pan. Select the dough setting and start the machine.

If you do not have a bread machine, combine the crust ingredients in a stand mixer bowl or other large bowl. Using either the stand mixer dough hook attachment or your hands, knead the dough until it is slightly firm and sticky. Cover and allow to rise for 35-45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Divide the dough in half and press each half into a greased 10-inch round pizza pan. (You can use two very inexpensive pans stacked together or a pizza stone to hold each crust, as it helps keep the crust from burning during grilling if you don't have a thicker pan.) Add sauce and toppings as desired.

Prepare a grill with medium coals/heat (about 400° F). Carefully place the pizzas on the grill, as space will allow. Grill the pizzas about 10 minutes and then check for doneness and turn them as needed to keep cooking even. Grill another 5 to 10 minutes, as needed, and remove the pans from the grill. Allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

  • Yields: 2 pizzas
  • Preparation Time: About 2 hours