Vanquishing the Noid

Le sigh.

Hello. My name is Michelle, and I am addicted to grilled pizza.


I could have totally cheated, you know, and used this as this week’s Cheap Ass Monday, but I was just too excited. It’s pizza! On the grill! That we made! In our backyard!

We’ve already had it for dinner three of the past five nights.

The dough pictured here was homemade using The New Best Recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen folks, but you can also take the lazy woman’s way out – as I did last night – and stop by your favorite pizza joint to buy a few hunks of their dough for a coupla bucks.

I was so excited, I didn’t even take the time to photoshop.

See this dough? I threw it! In the air! And caught it again! And it totally worked! I mean, no, it’s not a circle, but that’s the charm of homemade, is it not?*

I wish I had some action shots for you; I’ll try to get some the next time we do this, which will probably be, oh, 2 hours from now. For now, you’ll just have to use a rolling pin or stretch it by hand on the counter.

With a couple kinds of cheese, a head or two or three of garlic and some fresh herbs and veggies, you can make a dozen variations that are cheap, easy and delicious.

*Not a hypothetical question. Answer: Yes.

And it’s sorta kinda good for you…sorta.

Like swiss chard, which, if you live in the northeast and have a CSA, you most likely have now. Quickly wilted down with copious amounts of garlic and then sprinkled over a pizza that’s been dolloped with creamy ricotta cheese, drizzled with a good assertive olive oil and sprinkled lightly with sea salt, it’s heavenly.

Olive oil is a GOOD fat. GOOD.

Or pesto, especially pesto made from enormous, fragrant bunches of basil you pulled from the earth not five minutes ago.

But cheese is a BETTER fat.

It takes less than two minutes to whizz garlic, parmigiana, pine nuts, basil and olive oil in the ol’ fo-pro. It also takes less than two minutes to eat the resulting pizza.

Other delicious and versatile toppings include thinly sliced fresh tomatoes, sharp provolone, fresh herbs and of course, fresh mozzarella. And while grilled pizza requires a lighter hand with the toppings, this is amply made up for by the brash, utter freshness of the toppings and the fantastic, smoky char the grill produces.

Simple, flavorful, grill-friendly combinations include:

  • Chard, garlic, ricotta and olive oil (Brian’s favorite)
  • Pesto and sharp provolone (My favorite)
  • Fresh tomato, fresh mozzarella, garlic and olive oil
  • Ricotta, sharp provolone, garlic and olive oil
  • Pesto and fresh tomato, with or without mozzarella
  • Fresh tomato, olive oil and fresh thyme or basil, with or without a sprinkling of grated parm.

Thinly-sliced grilled veggies, like summer squash or eggplant, would also not be remiss; nor would caramelized onion. You could get fancier and toss on some diced pancetta or pears and brie, but there’s something about the pure, simple classic Italian flavors that is just unbeatable.

Oh. My. God.

You can put a pizza stone on the grill, in which case the risk of having your pizza sink between the grill grates is much reduced and you can be a bit more heavy-handed with the toppings, but the flavor of pizza cooked directly over the coals is unbeatable. After some trial-and-error, we determined that a lower temperature – around 300-325 degrees – produces a tastier, better cooked pizza than a scorching hot grill; longer, slower cooking gives the dough a chance to bake all the way through and the toppings the time to melt and meld before the bottom of the dough scorches and blackens. Use a pizza peel if you have one, or just sprinkle some cornmeal on a wooden cutting board and use that to slide the pies effortlessly onto the grill.

Even if you screw up the dough, the grilling, the toppings, or all three – as we did – this will still be light years better than anything you could have delivered. And when you don’t screw it up, it may well be the best pizza you can have this side of Naples.*

*Where, by the way, I’m going in September, along with Rome and a week on the coast in Puglia. Which I am telling you purely so I can gloat. Ha ha.

A Very Pungent Pesto
4-5 good sized garlic cloves
3 c. loosely packed fresh basil
1/2 c. pine nuts
4. oz. good parm, broken into hunks
1/3 – 2/3 c. good olive oil – something cold pressed with a nice olivey flavor
pinch kosher salt

With the fo-pro running, drop in the garlic and cheese; process until finely ground. Add the basil and pine nuts and process until finely chopped. Keep the fo-pro running and drizzle in the oil, adding it until you have a smooth paste; it shouldn’t be dry or chunky, nor should it be runny or liquidy. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed; I added a pinch of salt but no pepper, since I like a garlicky pesto and thought the garlic and peppery olive oil were punchy enough.

Store in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze for up to 6 months.

31 thoughts on “Vanquishing the Noid

  1. SO glad to hear someone else goes on pizza benders. Last week, had pizza on three out of five nights, like you. I prefer the oven, cranked up all the way, for good all-over cooking. That’s just my way of saying that I’d probably cry if my pizza wound up falling through the grill.

  2. I’m laughing because we had homemade pizza three times this week. Not on the grill yet, though! Freaky thunderstorms almost every single day. But I’ve always wanted to grill some pizza–we just have to do it.

    And shuddup about your upcoming trip. My summer day trips include the zoo and the amusement park.

  3. So I made a grilled pizza tonight and well, although it was well received by my guests and tasted great, I would rather have tried yours! Looks awesome :)

  4. We’ve been very intrigued by grilled pizza for QUITE a while now. (Read: we want to do it but are too lazy to.)

    Speaking of pizza, there is no good pizza to be had here in Vancouver it seems. We really *do* need to make it ourselves! ;D

  5. My wife and I spent 10 days in the Cinque Terre last May. Methinks you’ll have a deliciously good time when you go. Italy freakin’ rules. Thanks for the pizza-grilling tips!

  6. Molto bene! We are without a proper kitchen this summer while we’re renovating, so pizza on the grill is a mainstay. Dig the sharp provolone idea… we’ll have to use that soon!

  7. A couple of ideas…parbake the crust in the oven for a couple of minutes before putting toppings on to keep it from falling thru the grill later. Also, roast a head of garlic and use the resulting paste as a base with some asiago on top.

  8. Gyad Dayum, girl! I need to move in or something. I want to eat what you eat. I want to try grillin pizza soon! I even bought the stuff to do it this week…insert Twilight Zone music here. lol

  9. rebecca, just…wow. did he do “stuck in a closet with vanna white”? that was always a favorite of mine.

    gavin, we were thinking about the cinque terre this time. my family’s all in the south, though, so that’s where we always end up.

    jeff, parbaking is great if you want to heap more stuff on your pie. you can also parbake right on the grill – put the naked dough on, let cook for a few minutes, flip, and top. AND i was totally going to do roasted garlic but didn’t feel like turning on the oven. great minds!

    canary, you’re the one who has to live on an island paradise. if you lived in new jersey like a normal person, you could come over for dinner.

  10. The night I made grilled pizza was also the night I forgot that you need a couple hours for pizza dough. Midnight grilled pizza just isn’t as tasty as your version.

  11. Heh, so it’s “fo-pro” now?

    Pizza is a glorious thing – I went through this same phase a few weeks ago… more nights/week than not, we had pizza. I can’t remember a happier time.

  12. I will be making grilled pizzas tonight…I can’t wait to try it. I know it’s cheating but I’ll be buying the pizza dough from our favorite pizza place on the corner. I will still try and throw it in the air though. That’s what makes it homemade.

  13. Hi Michelle! Just stopping to say that I dig your blog so much that I nominated you for a Brillante Weblog award. You can see my site for details, and hopefully nominate seven of your own favorites.

  14. Regardless of your language any woman that grills pizza is a REAL LADY…Great post and I like your take. I blogged on this earlier in the week, something must be in the air (like the smell of that delish pungent pesto you provided) – thanks.

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  16. claudia, you gotta try it. the garlicky chard and ricotta is KILLER, especially if you play fast and loose with some good olive oil.

    kate, that’s right. because midnight grilled pizza is BETTER! what is more fun and carefree that midnight grilled pizza?

    kirby, thanks! i don’t do the award/meme thing, but i really appreciate it and your description of TNS made my day!

    chefectomy, it happens a lot in the blogosphere, doesn’t it – there’s something in the air, then suddenly 17 bloggers grill pizza at once. not that i’m complaining!

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