Have you discovered some new favorites to cook on the grill? We hope you have found inspiration to grill...
(have you tried the Grilled Banana Split yet?!)
In the final coaching tip from our summer grilling series, we want to help you enjoy pizzas on the grill!
Let's face it, pizza is one of America's favorite foods. It's quick, convenient and a staple at most get-togethers. It's estimated that 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. every year, and the average American consumes 23 pounds of pizza during the course of one year. Unfortunately, most of these pizzas are loaded with sodium, fat and health-deteriorating ingredients. With carryout, delivery and even frozen pizzas, you are likely consuming ingredients that are doing more harm than good.
That's the bad news.
Now for the great news!
You can enjoy pizza that is delicious (way better than takeout, delivery or frozen!), easy-to-prepare, affordable...and good for you! And, during the summer, you can enjoy these flavor-loaded pizzas without heating up your house and kitchen.
Have you tried grilling pizza?
It is super easy -- we love pizzas on the grill. The crust has a fantastic crispy-chewy consistency, it cooks fast and the flavor combinations are endless! Here is all you need to know:
The right crust. We could do a whole separate coaching tip (stay tuned!) on making your own whole grain pizza crust. When we want to grill a pizza, we often haven't planned far enough in advance to prepare our own dough (and the time required for the rising and kneading). Our best success has been with a pre-made whole grain pizza crust from our local farmers' market or a refrigerated (raw) whole wheat pizza dough from our local grocery store. As with anything, the key is to read the ingredients and try to get as much whole grain as possible.
Scorching hot. For raw pizza dough, we typically heat up our grill to about 500 degrees. Because the pizzas cook at such a high heat, the process goes really fast so it is best to have all your ingredients ready to go. (If you are using a pre-made pizza crust, heat the grill to about 400 degrees.)
Oil side down...flip and add toppings...finish! 3 simple steps and that's all there is to it.
- For raw pizza dough, it is best to get your crust to about 1/4" to 1/2" thick. We typically use a rolling pin to get the dough to the right thickness. Using a little flour or cornmeal makes the dough easier to work with and helps keep it from sticking.
- Once your dough or pre-made crust is ready, brush or spray one side of the crust with avocado oil or olive oil. Then, gently transfer (oil side down) onto the hot grill and close the lid. It should only take 2-3 minutes for the bottom to brown and crisp up. You may even notice air bubbles start to form, which is fine.
- After 2-3 minutes, remove the crust from the grill and flip it upside down on a large baking sheet or pizza pan. Now, the grilled side of the crust will be facing up and you can add your ingredients (sauce, toppings, cheese...get creative!). After adding your toppings, carefully transfer the pizza back to the grill, close the lid and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the crust and toppings are browned to your liking. Now, you're ready to slice and savor!
More grilling techniques:
Some people think it is better to have a "hot" side and a "cooler" side of the grill. If you do this, you can cook the crust for 2-3 minutes on the hot side, and then add your toppings and cook on the "cooler" side of the grill for 5-6 minutes. Then, you can move it back to the hot side for a minute or so to finish it off. The thought is this gives the toppings more time to cook without the risk of burning the crust. Our personal preference is just to heat the entire grill, but feel free to do what works best for you and, keep in mind, there are probably other methods that work well too.
What pizzas are best on the grill?
The possibilities are limited only by your creativity! Here is some inspiration to get you started:
Grill the toppings! Picture this...grill some in-season sliced tomatoes, peaches and red onion, and then use these as your pizza toppings, along with some mozzarella cheese and fresh basil! Check out the Grilled Summer Pizza!
Hatch chile season! With Hatch chilies right around the corner, try the Hatch Chile & Prosciutto Pizza! You can make your own quick and easy pizza sauce using freshly-picked tomatoes and basil, and then top with roasted Hatch chilies and prosciutto. Pizza from the fields to your fork!
Use those caramelized onions! Last week, we provided a coaching tip on the flavor-loaded caramelized onions, including how to prepare them in the slow cooker. They are perfect as toppings on the Caramelized Onion & Sausage Pizza, the Caramelized Onion, Fig & Gorgonzola Pizza (if you have never had figs on a pizza, you gotta try this!) and the Moroccan Spice Lamb Pizza. The lamb pizza was inspired by a talented local chef (Chef Travis is pictured left), who prepared this for our first-ever Eat REAL America farm-to-table lunch celebration several years ago!
Savor the season! Freshly-harvested ingredients from your garden or a local farm will take the flavor of your pizza to a whole new level! The Cherry Tomato Margherita Pizza will taste like it came from an authentic Italian restaurant (you can even grill the tomatoes for a few minutes before adding them to the pizza). And, check out the Farmers' Market Pizza, where roasted carrots are the base for the pizza sauce! You can even grill all the veggies instead of roasting them.
Amp up the nutrition even further! Use vegetables as your crust...zucchini, summer squash, eggplant and portobello mushrooms are excellent options. The Zucchini Pizza Boats are always a hit as well as the Stuffed Squash Taco Boats.
Cook your next pizza on the grill and see what you think!
We would love to hear about your favorite pizzas from the grill and any other tips you think our Eat REAL America community would enjoy!