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Pizza Margherita
Food and Wine

Grilled Pizza 3 Ways from a Mozzarella Master

When it’s too hot to heat up the oven and, therefore, your kitchen…let the grill save the day.  Though the basic recipe calls for using pizza tiles in the oven, Paula Lambert, Founder of Mozzarella Co., gives you instructions for grilled pizza with three bonus variations.

Pizza Margherita and Grilled Pizza Origins

Pizza Margherita is named for the Margherita, the Queen of Italy. Legend has it that a famous Neapolitan pizzaiolo created and named this pizza just for her. She is said to have loved it because the red, white, and green of its ingredients resembled the Italian flag.

As mentioned in the recipe, try lining your oven with pizza tiles or cooking it on a pizza stone. If that’s not possible, just cook the pizza on a baking sheet. Try grilling your pizza on a charcoal grill by cooking it first on one side before adding the toppings and returning it to the fire, just as Johanne Killeen and George Germon do for grilled pizza at their wonderful restaurant Al Forno in Providence.

Depending on your preference, you can roll out the dough thick or thin. The only secret is to have a very hot oven/grill and cook the pizza quickly.

Pizza Dough

  • 1/2 package (1 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water (110 º)
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110º)
  • 1 teaspoon cornmeal

Pizza Margherita

  • 2 cups Tomato Sauce, cooked for an additional 30 minutes to thicken and reduce the sauce to about 1 cup
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • For the Pizza Dough:
  1. Measure the 2 tablespoons of warm water in a small bowl or measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and blend with a small whisk or fork. Set aside and allow to proof. If the yeast is active or good, it will develop and become foamy within 5 minutes.
  2. Put the flour, salt, oil, proofed yeast, and the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until a smooth ball has formed on top of the blades and cleans the side of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a smooth, floured surface and knead for 1 minute to create a smooth ball. The dough may also be made by hand by placing the flour on a flat surface.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour, and add the salt, oil, proofed yeast, and water. Combine with a fork and by hand, and knead for 10 minutes. Oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all surfaces. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free location to rise for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  4. Remove from the bowl and place on a smooth, floured surface. Punch the dough down and knead by hand for 3 to 5 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and allow to rise for 20 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 1 or 2 portions and roll out to desired thickness, size, and shape. Leave the edges slightly thicker. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the cornmeal on a smooth, slideable surface such as a baker’s peel or a breadboard. Place the dough on top and finish shaping the dough.
For the Pizza Margherita:
  1. Line your oven with quarry tiles or place a pizza stone in a cold oven, and preheat the oven to 450º. Once the temperature is attained, construct the pizzas so that the tiles or stone have an additional 10 to 15 minutes to heat.
  2. Shape the pizza and place it on the breadboard or peel. Spread about 1/2 to 1 cup of the tomato sauce over the dough, depending on the amount of sauce you like on your pizza, leaving a 1/2 inch border.
  3. Arrange the slices of mozzarella on top of the sauce.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cornmeal on the tiles or pizza stone in the oven, and slide the pizza onto the tiles or stone.
  5. Bake the pizza for 15 minutes, or until the edges of the pizza are golden brown and the cheese is completely melted, bubbly all over, and turning golden brown.
  6. Remove the pizza from the oven using the peel. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and oregano.  Alternatively, use about 8 to 10 whole fresh basil leaves instead of the oregano.
  7. To serve, cut the pizza into wedges. Serve hot.

Pizza dough makes 1 thick crust pizza or 2 thin crust pizzas

Pizza Margherita makes 1 (12 to 14 inch) pizza.

Serves 4

Variation: Italian Sausage and Pepper Jack Pizza

  1. Grill 8 ounces of Italian sausage links. When cooked, slice the sausage into rounds.
  2. Substitute pepper jack for the mozzarella. Arrange the cheese over the tomato sauce and top with the sausage slices.
  3. Bake the pizza as directed above, or use instructions for grilled pizza (since you’ve fired it up already).
  4. Remove the pizza from the oven/grill and top with thinly sliced raw onion rings and sprinkle with oregano and salt and pepper, if desired.

Two grilled pizza variations by Paula Lambert

Variation: Grilled Shrimp and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza

  1. Briefly grill 10 large shrimp on a hot charcoal or gas grill with their shells left on. Do not fully cook as they will also cook on the pizza. Remove the shells from the shrimp.
  2. Substitute smoked mozzarella for the plain mozzarella. Arrange the cheese over the tomato sauce. Top the cheese with the shrimp.
  3. Bake the pizza as directed above, or use instructions for grilled pizza (since you’ve fired it up already).
  4. Remove the pizza from the oven/grill and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon drained capers and 5 snipped fresh basil leaves, as well as salt and pepper, if desired.

Variation: Calzone

Calzone

  1. Roll the dough into a round 12 to 14 inches in diameter.
  2. Spread one half with 1/2 cup tomato sauce.
  3. Top the sauced half with 4 ounces of sliced mozzarella, 2 thin slices of prosciutto, 4 ounces of well-drained, crumbled ricotta, 2 tablespoons pitted and chopped kalamata olives, and a sprinkling of dried oregano. Drizzle 2 tablespoons more of the tomato sauce over the top.
  4. Lightly moisten the edges of the pizza dough with water.
  5. Fold the unsauced half of the pizza over the filled half to form a half-moon pie. Press and crimp the edges together.
  6. Brush the top lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. Make a few slits in the top for the steam to escape.
  7. Bake calzone as directed above.

Copyright © 2000 by Paula Lambert, The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide, all rights reserved.

Read Next:

Crostini Recipe with Roasted Vegetables and Smoked Mozzarella

Risotto With Asparagus and Goat Cheese

Grilled Shrimp and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza Recipe

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