Recipe: Grilled Jersey Fresh Pizza

pizza grilling on grill. tomato basil pizza recipe

My husband and I have a Friday night tradition of making our own pizza. Usually that involves using premade pizza dough, topping it with sauce and mozzarella and throwing it in the oven. But once summer hits, any pizza we make gets grilled. The difference between grilled pizza and oven-baked pizza is something that’s hard to put into words. The freshness of Jersey tomatoes and basil, not to mention the saltiness of the dough and cheese just provides an unbeatable combination.

I’ve included the dough recipe from The Barbecue Bible, but you can use any refrigerated premade pizza dough. I really do feel that the homemade dough adds a lot to the enjoyment of the pizza, but it involves planning ahead. This recipe is really just a jumping off point; it’s so versatile you can adjust the toppings to whatever produce you get in your CSA box or pick up at the local farmers market. So if you’re looking for something other than burgers and chicken to throw on your grill, try this out. It may make you a convert to firing up the grill instead of the oven when you have a pizza craving.

Grilled Tomato and Mozzarella Pizza (adapted from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen)

For the dough:
1 cup warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast (2-1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons coarse (kosher or sea) salt
3 tablespoons fine cornmeal
3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus oil for the bowl
3 to 3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, or as needed

For the pizza:
1 large tomato, cored
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2/3 cup shredded Mozzarella (We found the easiest way to grate the cheese was to put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm it up before grating)
1/3 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
Fresh basil leaves

Place the water in a large bowl and add the yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit 5 minutes, then stir in the salt, cornmeal, whole-wheat flour, and oil. Gradually stir in enough all-purpose flour to form a dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl. (You can also mix the dough in a stand mixer.) Knead the dough on a floured work surface, or in a food processor or mixer fitted with the dough hook, until smooth and elastic. The dough should be soft and pliable, but not sticky. Kneading should take 6 to 8 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, brush the top with oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours. Punch down the dough.

Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk again, 40 to 50 minutes. Punch it down.
Wrap the dough in saran wrap and set aside until ready to use. You can put it in the fridge, just make sure it’s at room temperature when you go to stretch it out.

Preheat your grill to high. Cut the tomatoes crosswise into thick slices. Brush each slice with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Quickly sear the tomato slices, turning with a spatula, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Cut the dough into two equal pieces. Generously oil a large baking sheet and place one disk of dough on it. Use the fingers and palms of your hands to stretch out the dough. Then do the same for the second disk of dough.

Using both hands, gently lift the doughs from the baking sheets and drape them onto the grill. Within a few minutes, the underside of the doughs will crisp, darken, and harden, and the top will puff slightly. Turn the doughs over with tongs or two spatulas and move them back to the baking sheet.

Quickly brush the top of the pizzas with oil. Top the pizzas with garlic, tomato slices, cheese, and basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the pizzas onto the grill. Cook until the undersides are slightly charred and the cheese is melted on top, 2 to 4 minutes.

Remove the pizzas from the grill, cut into serving pieces and enjoy!

Michelle StavrouMichelle Stavrou, the Union County regional editor, grew up in Bergen County, then moved to Hoboken (after a stop over in Queens) before finally settling in Cranford where she lives with her husband and daughter. Michelle was amazed to discover all of the delicious food in the Cranford area, which she documents on her blog, What’s Cooking In (& Around) Cranford.