I’m a grill man. No, I’m not one of those fellas you see wearing a “Grill Masters Like It Hot” apron or wielding chrome tongs like a backyard gunslinger. Nor is my grill a sleek, stainless steel work of art. But my happy little Char-Griller gets a lot of use pretty much all year long and is an indispensable, albeit remote, extension of my kitchen. Never is this more true than in these dog days of summer, when I will barely consider raising the temperature inside the house even one degree by using the oven.
Of course, we enjoy the usual grill fare. Hamburgers, chicken, corn on the cob. Maybe the occasional steak. Hard to argue with the classics.
When company is coming for dinner out on the deck and the garden yield is abundant, though, we often step away from the traditional with a surprisingly easy garden-fresh grilled pizza. Who says you need to build a brick oven to get that fire-grilled flavor at home?
The wow factor is high and you’ll barely break a sweat making dynamite use of those copious backyard crops.
Grilled Pizza Dough
1 1/4 c warm water
2 tsp yeast
3 1/2 c flour
2 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Combine yeast and warm water, allowing yeast to dissolve. Stir in all other ingredients and knead by hand or using a mixer with a dough hook until dough forms into a firm, pliant ball.
Let rise until it nearly doubles in size (an hour or so), then punch it down. Roll dough into a flat, at least vaguely pizza-like shape, dusting with additional flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.
To grill pizza, heat grill to a medium temperature and oil grate to prevent sticking (or use a dry baking stone placed directly on grate). Place dough on grill and allow to cook with the lid closed until the bottom begins to brown (depending on your grill, this should take just a few minutes, so watch carefully). Flip pizza, add toppings of choice, close the lid and continue grilling until bottom browns to completion.
You don’t have to stick to the garden for your toppings, of course. Once the dough is underway it is a culinary canvas that makes every grill attendant an artist. But those homegrown veggies look so beautiful topping a pie, how can you possibly resist?
Personally, I forgo the tomato sauce for a little olive oil or pesto and pile on whatever was most recently picked. Today that was tomatoes, peppers, Chinese eggplant and purple basil. Oh, and cheese. But I don’t make that at home.