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Summer is here: Fire up the grill and make some pizza pies

Submitted to The Union

It’s summer. It’s hot. The last thing you want to do is turn on the oven. But you’re craving homemade pizza. Argh. What to do?

Grab a whole wheat pre-made pizza dough from the BriarPatch Food Co-op Deli, or surf the interweb for a classic pizza dough recipe, then fire up the grill!

Backyard grills can reach higher temperatures than an average kitchen oven, making it a great tool for creating homemade pizza that tastes like it was baked in a wood-fired oven.

Locally grown summer produce like basil, fennel, zucchini, romaine lettuce and tomatoes are in season now and oh so tasty.

Follow these tips and you’ll be making delicious pizzas like a pro in no time.

Think ahead

Make your dough the day before. Let it rise and double in size. Place in a closed container and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

The day you are ready to make pizza, take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. This will make it easier to handle and give your crust more bubbles.

Prep Those Toppings

Cook toppings beforehand. This prevents the release of liquids onto the crust. Ingredients will heat evenly, instead of one being over or under-cooked.

Have all of your ingredients prepared and ready, next to you by the grill. That way, you can work fast and get everything on the dough before it is overcooked.

When choosing cheese, think of the other toppings you’re using. Shaved pecorino will add salt, a dollop of ricotta will bring creamy richness. Need texture? Think mozzarella.

Be patient

A good pizza can never be rushed. Avoid later frustration by taking the time (up to 20 minutes) to reach grill temperatures of 500 degrees. If the temperature is too low, the dough will stick to the grates.

Remember. A grill is your pizza’s best friend.

Build a coal bed on one side of the grill rather than the center, to create a hot and cool section. Use the hotter spot to first cook and get those nice grill marks on each side, then move to the cooler part to avoid burning.

Portion your pie size. A big pizza is going to be harder to flip and harder to evenly heat. So make a few dinner-plate-sized ones instead.

A pizza stone works, or you can go straight on the grate. If using raw dough, roll it up onto a rolling pin, and unroll it onto the hot grill to protect your fingertips.

Put the dough down fast to keep it from sticking. A dusting of flour should do the trick. A little olive oil will, too, but too much and your pizza could burst into flames!

Cook the dough for two minutes on one side, then flip and continue cooking the other side for another four to six minutes.

When it’s time to build the pizza, move the dough to the side with no coals in order to slow down the cooking time. The dough should be able to move easily off the grill.

Almost there

Be careful not to overload your pizza by piling on too many toppings.

Leave a crust – creating a lip to hold the ingredients in place.

Be careful with the sauce. Too much will make your pizza soggy.

You’ll know the pizza is ready when the crust is dark and golden with black blisters.

Use a large spatula and a baking sheet or pizza stone, to remove and transport your pie safely to the table or cooling rack.

A Few Inspired Pizza Toppings

Grill the crust with olive oil and dabs of fresh chevre. Remove from heat and add sliced strawberries, arugula and drizzle with 18-year aged balsamic vinegar from Calolea.

Top your crust with fontina, chopped artichoke hearts and sauteed mushrooms.

Try halloumi slices, pistachios and a drizzle of honey.

Grill heads of romaine sliced in quarters brushed with olive oil until nicely charred. Chop roughly, toss with Caesar dressing and layer on top of crust grilled with provolone and grilled chicken breast.

Try your pizza with grilled fennel, garlic, fresh basil and parmesan.

Don’t forget to pair with your favorite beer or wine!

Source: BriarPatch Co-op

Farm to Table

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