Grilled Pizza Adventure

Have you guys ever tried making grilled pizza? I had not until last weekend.

I don’t think the idea had ever occurred to me until I watched season three of Girls on HBO last January and Marnie was whining that, “We bought the ingredients to make grilled pizzas, and we were going to make grilled pizzas, and the day we were supposed to make grilled pizzas he f!@#ing left me.”

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It was almost as if Girls had pulled some crazy inception on me, and planted this grilled pizza idea in my brain months ago. Over the two weeks leading up to actually making the grilled pizza, I became obsessed with the idea, and couldn’t stop Googling it and watching YouTube videos about it.

“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.” –Inception

After (embarrasingly) extensive research, I forged ahead with plans to utilize Bobby Flay’s grilled pizza recipe. The huz and I worked together to make these pizzas for a date night activity last Friday night, which was lots of fun.

First, we prepared both the herbed ricotta and a basil vinaigrette for the pizza. Once complete, we placed both in the fridge to hang out while we worked on the pizza.

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For my first grilled pizza experiment, I was not too keen on making homemade pizza dough. I just didn’t want to put all that work into making the crust in case the whole situation failed. So, instead I picked up a few bags of refrigerated pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. Three varieties were available at my local store, including traditional, garlic-herb, and whole wheat.

I really had no idea how much dough I would need, and wanted extra in case of “mess-ups,” so I picked up three bags: two garlic-herb and one bag of whole wheat. (They were also only like $1.19/bag which is a steal.) I do not recommend the garlic-herb for grilled pizzas and you will soon see why!

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As for the toppings, we had red and yellow bell peppers, red onion, cheese, and sweet Italian pork sausage.

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I prepped the veggies for grilling (lightly brushed with oil, salt and peppered), and the huz threw them on the grill, along with the sausage.

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Once grilled, we brought the sausage and veggies inside and prepped our pizza topping assembly station, which included slicing the veggies and sausage, and pulling our herbed ricotta and basil vinaigrette from the fridge.

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As for the dough, I removed it from the fridge 20 minutes before we planned to use it. Twenty minutes later, I divided each bag of pizza dough in half, flattened with my hands into a roughly oblong shape on a floured surface, then lightly brushed the top with oil. (I later realized that I used more oil than needed, as you can see below!)

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Now, I don’t have any pictures of the actual process of grilling the pizza dough, since it all happened kind of quickly and my hands were very messy! But I will tell you what happened:

Yes, we grilled DIRECTLY on the grill grates – no pizza stone was utilized. (Scary, right?)

    • Place flattened, oblong pizza crusts oil-side-down over direct heat, directly onto grill grates (charcoal grill, in our case)
    • Let dough cook for 1-2 minutes (maybe less if your dough is really thin or your grill is crazy hot) on first side, rotating once or twice to create grill marks
    • Brush the top with oil
    • The dough will start to bubble. Carefully lift up a corner to check for doneness.
    • When the first side looks done, gently flip over the dough to grill the other side for another 1-2 minutes.
    • Remove from grill, and set aside.

So this worked all fine and well for the whole wheat crust. SO much better than I expected, actually! (I had really low expectations going in!)

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Next, we brought the successfully grilled whole wheat pizza crusts inside and topped with cheese, sausage, and veggies, before finishing in a preheated 450 F oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

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This method – grilling the dough, then assembling the pizzas inside and finishing in the oven – seemed easier than assembling the pizzas on the grill. And you won’t be missing out on any grilled flavor either. I definitely recommend this method, which is actually Bobby Flay’s method.

The final step is to top the baked pizzas with dollops of herbed ricotta and a light drizzle of basil vinaigrette before serving. I especially loved the basil vinaigrette, which added really fresh zing to the pizza.

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Now, remember that garlic-herb crust (also from Trader Joe’s)? Yeah, that did NOT grill up so well. I am not sure if the dough was not as fresh, or a different temperature, if I did not handle it correctly, or what, but the dough was very loose and flimsy, and when I placed it on the grill, it just Fell Straight Through the Grates. Yep.

Luckily, I discovered that the garlic-herb crust from Trader Joe’s did not grill well after trying out one of my four garlic-herb crusts on the grill, and so only a small fraction of the dough was sacrificed. Once it was concluded that grilling the garlic-herb dough was not going to be an option, I simply followed the instructions for baking the crust on a cookie sheet in the oven. This worked fine, but  obviously our baked pizzas lacked that awesome smoky grilled flavor (though we loved the grilled toppings on these ones too).

The baked version (before adding ricotta and vinagrette):

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And a final look at (my favorite) the grilled version, with whole wheat crust:

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So, in conclusion, I learned a lot of things about making grilled pizzas:

    • Making grilled pizza by placing the dough directly on the grill grates can, in fact, be done!
    • Don’t forget to oil both sides of the dough
    • DO NOT GRILL Trader Joe’s garlic-herb crust! It’ll fall right through the grates.
    • Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza crust grills well
    • Grilled veggies make a fantastic pizza topping
    • Bobby Flay has a great grilled pizza recipe
    • One bag of whole wheat Trader Joe’s pizza dough is enough for two people

And there you have it! Hope you enjoyed my tale of grilled pizzas.

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6 thoughts on “Grilled Pizza Adventure

  1. Meg now you need to step up and get yourself a big green egg or ceramic cooker. For all your love of BBQ meat and now this you would not need your oven. I made Russian piroshky (think of small\mini calzones) on my big green egg on Friday, If you ever interested in a big green egg or have questions I am just down in Saline area. I have 5 smokers\grills from the drum smoker, big green egg, vault smoker, pellet one and one small gas grill. This week doing a BBQ of 5 briskets and 5 pork butts along with some smoked catfish and pig candy for the people at work.

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