I have a complete, unadulterated obsession with pizza. Not just any pizza. It has to be Italian-quality, homemade, thin-crust with fresh-from-the-garden toppings. In my mind, a hot from the oven, crusty pizza oozing with fresh mozzarella and vine-ripened tomatoes might just be the perfect food, which is partly why I claim to be part-Italian. 🙂 One look at me and you’ll know there’s NO Italian blood there, but a girl can dream, right? This recipe for grilled margherita pizza was born from that obsession, which actually started a long time ago…….
My very best friend in junior high was named Melissa. We were always together. In fact, people started calling us Melizabeth because we were together so much. I still consider her a very dear friend, even though we don’t see each other very often. She was the kind of friend I could tell my deepest, darkest secrets to, and I knew she wouldn’t tell anyone. I could be completely silly and ridiculous in front of her, and she wouldn’t make fun of me or laugh at me. When I fell apart, she would put her arms around me and cry with me. When you’re thirteen, having even one loyal friend is a big, big deal. (Really, at any age, that’s a big deal, right?!)
One day, we decided to walk to our favorite pizzeria, The Pizza Oven. This was no small task. The Pizza Oven was located down a huge hill from our neighborhood, about three miles away. It seemed like a very long way to walk on a hot summer’s day! But we were determined to be independent and get there without any help, and boy, was it worth it. The Pizza Oven had a large window in the middle of the restaurant, where you could stand and watch as your pizza was rolled out, tossed in the air, topped and slid into the fiery ovens. And I can still smell that heady aroma of yeast, garlic and tomatoes. Mmmmm. We felt very grown-up as we sat at our own table and munched our hot, gooey slices of pizza and sipped our root beers.
The Pizza Oven is now gone, replaced years ago by a fire station. But every time I drive past, I smell that garlicky crust, taste that fresh mozzarella, and think of Melissa and our 13-year-old selves. That was a pretty great day!
- 2 Tbsp. dry yeast
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- Cornmeal for sprinkling
- 6 roma tomatoes
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 handful of fresh basil, chopped
- 2 cups fresh mozzarella
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove
- Combine the yeast, honey and warm water in a standing mixing bowl. Let sit for about five minutes until the yeast begins to bubble.
- Add the oil, 4 cups of flour and salt. Blend on low using a dough hook.
- Increase the speed and knead for 8-10 minutes. Add more flour as needed if the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl. (It should stick to bottom of bowl but pull away from sides.)
- Cover the bowl and let rise for 30-40 minutes.
- Heat grill to a temperature of about 400 degrees (or hotter.)
- Punch dough down and divide into about 6 pieces. Sprinkle surface with a little cornmeal, and roll dough out into circles about 1/3-1/2 inch thick.
- Brush one side with olive oil and garlic.
- Prepare toppings: Slice tomatoes, basil and cheese.
- Place pizzas carefully on hot grill, with oiled side down.
- Grill about five minutes over high heat. Watch closely and turn heat down if bottoms are browning too quickly.
- Flip pizzas over, brush again with oil and garlic, and add toppings. Cook another five minutes.
- Serve immediately!
*Most of the prep time is just giving the dough a chance to rise. This is really easy to make and comes together fast!