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I love where I live. With Sonoma’s breathtaking beauty among her rolling hills, picturesque vineyards, and the close-knit community I am blessed to call home, it's easy to say I love what I do. As a real estate professional and food writer, Sonoma Dish endeavors to share with you my enthusiasm for living the wine country lifestyle.

 

Enjoy!

  • Therese Nugent

Pizza On The Grill

Cooking pizza on the grill. It’s unconventional but it works. Pizza is arguably the most beloved “American” food and grilling our most enjoyable method of cooking. With America’s love affair with pizza and grilling, pizza on the grill seems like a natural.


There’s nothing comparable to the flavor of pizza baked in an authentic wood-fired brick oven. Yet you can simply recreate that atmosphere by baking pizzas on a barbecue grill. In fact, all forms of flatbread have been cooked over an open flame for centuries. The technique originated in Greece where dough was formed with a rim around to hold other foods—a sort of edible plate. Now that’s a tasty way to avoid doing the dishes!


Most of us have come to the art of grilling by way of the family backyard cookout. Yet anyone can learn the skill of grilling the perfect pizza. It’s all about the dough. The dough needs to be strong enough to withstand stretching, but not so strong that you can’t work with it. I prepare my dough in the food processor fitted with a dough blade. I then place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and set it in a warm place to rise and double in its size. To shape the pizza, punch down the risen dough and begin shaping it into a round on a dry work surface. (Tip: Don’t dust the surface with too much flour, or better yet, none at all. The dough sticking to the surface actually makes shaping easier.) Pull the dough from the center, stretching into a flattened round. Then hold the round vertically, turning it like a wheel, and allow gravity to stretch the dough thin. Make sure your grill is heated to medium and your topping ingredients are prepped and at hand.


A pizza “peel” is a must. A peel is a shovel-like tool used by bakers to slide baked goods into and out of the oven whereby transferring manually would mangle their structure. It is usually made of wood with a flat carrying surface like a shovel’s blade with a handle attached. This tool is a must to move the pizza around. Generously sprinkle cornmeal or semolina flour on the wooden peel and place the shaped dough onto it. The texture of the cornmeal acts like ball bearings effortlessly sliding the pizza from the counter to the grill, to the counter again—all the while keeping its structure intact.


Slide the dough from the peel to the prepared grill and brush with a little olive oil. Close the lid and bake the dough until grill marks appear. Flip the dough over and continue to bake until browned and additional grill marks emerge. With toppings at hand, layer the round with the ingredients. Close the lid once again and cook until the toppings are heated through and any cheese is melted. Using the peel, remove the pizza from the grill and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Slice into hand-held pieces and enjoy.


Okay. Full disclosure. My family prefers a thin crust. And they’re really not keen on the time it takes to assemble homemade dough. A call to The Red Grape for an order of freshly prepared dough rolled out to perfection does the trick. Just add toppings and you’re good!

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The classic summer ingredients come together in pizza perfection. I like to slice the tomatoes fairly thick, about a quarter-inch, so they become tender but still keep their shape. Shredding the basil keeps the fragile leaves from bruising. Simply stack several leaves, roll the bunch tightly and thinly slice through.


Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Pizza

Serves 4 to 6


1 recipe prepared pizza dough for grilling

1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella

3 Roma tomatoes, sliced

½ bunch basil leaves, shredded

2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil


1. Prepare the dough for grilling and bake according to instructions. Sprinkle the grilled pizza crusts with mozzarella. Top the cheese with the tomatoes and sprinkle with the basil and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle the topping with olive oil.


2. Continue to bake the topped pizza on the grill as directed. Using the pizza peel, remove the pizza from the grill and slice into servings.


Enjoy!


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Arugula can turn bitter with too much heat. I prefer to top the baked pizza with fresh arugula leaves tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Divine!


Grilled Pizza Provencal

Serves 4 to 6


1 recipe prepared pizza dough for grilling

3 large tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1 bunch arugula leaves


1. Prepare the dough for grilling and bake according to instructions.


2. In a medium bowl, stir together the tomatoes, olives, garlic, oregano, and oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread the tomato mixture on the grilled pizza crusts. Sprinkle the topping with the cheese.


3. Continue to bake the topped pizza on the grill as directed. Using the pizza peel, remove the pizza from the grill. Top the pizza with the arugula leaves; slice and serve.


Enjoy!

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