family-friendly grilled pizza five ways
This “special feature” post is part of a unique blog collaboration celebrating a passion for breaking bread &, uh, Internet speed (affectionately dubbed, a “perfectly progressive virtual dinner party”). Ready, set, go… start your appetites for family-friendly grilled pizza—five ways. (Photo courtesy of MarthaStewart.com)
Looking for something simple to prepare the next time you’re entertaining your tots to teens-toting friends or family? Grilled pizzas are the way to go. Relatively inexpensive (well, unless you’re into artisan or organic ingredients, which if you’re a Philly foodie is very likely), healthy and easy to prepare (we won’t tell if you use store-bought dough!), it’s a safe bet everyone in the house—or backyard—will be fighting over that last slice.
Making the dough is the toughest part of the prep, but it is a worthy endeavor. Plus, the whole family can get involved. (Just don’t forget to make two days ahead.) There are a lot of good recipes available online and on bookshelves, but one of my favorites is from Martha Stewart, whose flaky, buttery, thin, crispy pie crusts have repeatedly made me a kitchen hero over the years. Whether savory or sweet, her technique has my vote.
As you’ll see via the link, this recipe yields four mid-sized pizza crusts (much easier logistically, trust me) and doesn’t rely on you being a master dough thrower. Which in my case, is a great asset: Getting a uniform, hole-free ROUND canvas is always a challenge; even my 14-year-old puts me to shame. However, when it comes to toppings—in this case five different family-friendly pies—I’ve got the upper hand. To stay within the What Would Martha Do Theme?, here’s a link to her asparagus and ricotta grilled pizza that spells out the actual techniques for stretching, shaping and grilling the dough. It also makes a fine companion to a hefty slab of grilled salmon.
The best part about this recipe is that it works well in the oven on the grill or in an oversized cast iron pan. (Too bad I can’t find mine!)
First, the basics (aka, things you should always have on hand for pizza entertaining):
- good quality part-skim shredded mozzarella
- fresh buffalo mozzarella (large ball or log, or petite boccincini that can be cut in half)
- good quality marinara sauce (I find that for kids, less “chunks,” the better)
- fresh basil leaves (whole and cut into a chiffonade with your kitchen scissors)
- fresh parsley, chopped
- grated parmesan, romano or locatelli cheese
- crushed red pepper flakes
- roasted garlic (for a milder, sweeter flavor)
- part-skim ricotta (essential for white pies)
- roasted garlic cloves (store-bought or homemade)
- good quality olive oil (to flavor the dough)
- wooden pizza peel (to transport pre- and post-cooked pie)
- pizza wheel or good pair of kitchen scissors
Now the combos:
- Spaghetti & Meatballs (made with quartered meatballs and leftover pasta of any kind)
- Margherita (fresh tomato slices, shredded mozzarella cheese and chunks of buffalo mozz, fresh basil and garlic)
- Chicken Parmesan (lightly breaded chicken, shredded mozz, tomato sauce, fresh parsley, parm, romano or locatelli)
- Bacon, Corn & Arugula (ricotta, crispy chunks of bacon, sweet corn, parsley, a handful of arugula, cherry tomato halves)
- Cheeseburger & Fries (ground beef, mozzarella, jack and cheddar cheeses, potatoes seasoned with sea salt and olive oil)
Since you’ll be entertaining a crowd of families and the yard or house will be loud and frenetic, the last thing you need to do is worry about precision. Once you’ve nailed the dough prep, everything else should be a downhill ride. Which means, for those of you who like exact measurements, give it up. For the larger ingredients, like meatballs, pasta, chicken, arugula, ground beef, grated cheeses, eyeball about 1 1/2 cups of each topping, per pie, and you’ll have plenty. Then with anything you have leftover, you can build a “kitchen sink” pie. Figure about six to eight ounces of grated cheeses (mozz, jack and cheddar) for the combos listed above, but again don’t sweat it if you have too much. Pizza making is a great segue into frittata making the next morning. Just add eggs.
For the actual grilling, I also like Alton Brown‘s (Good Eats) explanation. Easy to follow and ensures that the toppings get warmed up a bit. Ideally, you want another work surface next to the grill and a large cutting board to place pizza on during transitions, that also fits your ingredients for whichever pie you’re creating.
- Oil the grill grates and decrease the heat to medium.
- Brush the dough with 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil and flip onto the hot grill.
- Close the lid and cook until the bottom of crust is golden brown, for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Brush the raw side of the dough with 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil, then immediately flip using the peel.
- Brush with remaining 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and add toppings
- Close the lid and cook until the bottom of crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Using the peel, remove the pizza to a cooling rack and rest for 3 minutes before slicing.
And now… for the rest of our party throwers… lots o’ links!
To get the full Progressively Perfect Virtual Dinner Party blog hop experience, click the links below in order:
Coffee, Tea & Dessert
Decorations, Outfits and Music
Hope you have as much fun reading through the party as we did planning it!