While my husband David and I were on a run yesterday morning he said, “Not too long until fall.” His observation made me aware. As I looked down, sure enough there was a smattering of red and yellow leaves here and there.
I’m not deceived. I’ve lived long enough to know there are still a few scorchers in the forecast, but I also know fall’s knockin’ on summer’s back door. While the weather’s still holding, why not continue to celebrate? There are months ahead to oven-bake pizza. This time of year fire up the grill. And the good news: this recipe is simple enough to make weeknight. There’s no sauce to make, no toppings to saute–just assemble and bake.
Never tried grilling pizza? If not, check out our how-to video from a few months ago. You’ll like it. I promise. With the grill’s direct and enveloping heat, grilled pizza cooks up faster and crisps up better than oven-baked. You can make your own pizza dough. It’s just 5 minutes in the food processor and a couple of unattended hours rising time. But these days pizza dough is also widely available in one-pound balls, making fresh pizza almost as simple (and more superb) than store-bought crust.
If using fresh dough—store-bought or homemade—I offer a few tips:
- Resist the temptation to punch down and knead risen dough (and don’t aggravate the grocery store stuff either). In its relaxed, supple state it’s ripe for stretching. Knead it and you’re stuck waiting for it to relax again.
- Stretching pizza dough into long rectangles rather than rounds. It’s easier (as is cooking and cutting).
- Get the grill good and hot, but then turn down the heat once the stretched dough is added.
- Whether you need them or not, grill four pizzas at a time. Leftovers make a wonderful meatless lunch. To reheat, pop in the microwave to take off the chill and then warm them in a 300-degree (toaster) oven to re-crisp.
- For weeknight keep it simple. Don’t make sauce or prepare toppings. Rather spread them with flavored ricotta, and top with roasted or fried peppers and olives (all of which you’ll find in the grocery store’s Italian aisle).
Sit outside and enjoy the last of the warm weather. Since the days are getting shorter you might need a few candles… and while you’re at it, grab a light sweater. You might need it.
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta, thinned with 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus extra leaves for garnish
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 pound bag store-bought pizza dough
- 1 jar (12 ounces) fried peppers or roasted red peppers packed in oil, cut into thin strips
- 16 pitted kalamata olives, halved
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) grated sharp provolone cheese
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about ½ cup)
- Turn all burners of a gas grill on high or build a medium-hot charcoal fire. Mix ricotta, milk, garlic, basil, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Without punching or kneading dough (which makes stretching more difficult), turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Using a dough scraper or sharp knife, quarter dough crosswise. Working one at a time, stretch each portion into a rustic 12- by 3½- to 4-inch rectangle; transfer to a large cornmeal-coated baking sheet.
- Reduce grill heat to medium; lift stretched pieces of dough onto grill. Cover and cook until bottoms are spotty brown, moving them around to ensure even cooking and piercing puffing dough as necessary, 3 to 4 minutes. Return pizza crusts, grilled side up, to baking sheet, topping with a portion of each in the following order: ricotta mixture, peppers, olives, provolone. Return pizzas to grill; cover and continue to grill until pizza bottoms are spotty brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer to a cutting board; sprinkle with Parmesan, cut into pieces and serve