Over the summer, Matt and I had a few date nights at home when we cooked pizza together. Previously, I’d always used pre-cooked pizza dough, but this summer we began using fresh pizza dough instead that we bought from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. We prefer to use whole-wheat dough like this one. Below are some tips and tricks we learned these last few months about cooking pizza using fresh dough, cooking it on the grill and baking it in the oven. Recipes are at the bottom of the post.
General pizza-making tips and lessons learned when using fresh pizza dough:
- -Your pizza(s) won’t turn out to be beautiful, concentric circles like the guys at the restaurants make. Get yourself over it. Your oddly shaped concoctions will still taste yummy. And they might even look like a state or country.
- -An actual pizza cutter is a brilliant invention.
- -If you make a “sweeter” pizza, top it with something more savory to balance out the flavors. For example, a corn and caramelized onion topping is delicious served with fresh arugula on top.
- -This meal is not a quick meal. Making pizza can be a multi-step process depending on what you want to use as toppings.
Here are sample steps.
- -Step 1: Remove pizza dough from the refrigerator around 3-5 hours before preparing
- the pizza. I learned the hard way that it takes a while for the dough to be malleable
- enough to stay flattened-out.
- -Step 2: Prepare the tomato sauce (Unless you are using jarred sauce.)
- -Step 3: Prepare the topping(s)
- -Step 4: Prepare and cook the pizza
- -Unless you have a fancy pizza-sized spatula or paddle to use on the grill, it is way easier and a lot less stressful to cut the pizza dough in half and make two smaller pizzas. Use a well-oiled flat-edged cookie sheet to slide the pizza(s) onto the grill. Start the cookie sheet at the back of the grill and, moving forward slowly, let the dough slide off as you bring the cookie sheet toward yourself.
- -Cooking pizza on the grill is fast. Only about 3 minutes per side. Have your toppings ready to go and next to the grill so when you flip the crust after 3 minutes, you can quickly top your pizza(s) and get the cheese to start melting without burning the bottom of the pizza.
So, you may be wondering if Eliana the teeny tiny foodie liked these recipes too? Wellll, unfortunately, she hasn’t really had the opportunity to taste the homemade pizzas yet. Matt and I usually love the pizzas so much that we eat the whole pizza right then and there selfishly leaving none for our darling daughter. Eliana has tried these recipes in deconstructed parts or in other forms such as zucchini parmesan slices with her dinner the other night or the corn and caramelized onions mixture with arugula as pasta “sauce.” But, we promise, we will make it as a family one weekend so Eliana gets her fair taste of this yumminess!
|Hmm, what’s this?|
|That zucchini part is fine but scraping off the breading with my teeth is THE BOMB!|
And, here are the recipes.
Whole Wheat Pizza with Zucchini Parmesan
This is a 3- to 4-step recipe depending on whether or not you make your own tomato sauce. The first step is to make sure the pizza dough comes to room temperature. Steps 2 and 3 are to make the tomato sauce and prepare the zucchini parmesan and they are interchangeable. Step 4 is to prepare and cook the pizza.
- · 1 package of fresh whole-wheat pizza dough
- · Around 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, sliced
- · Around 1½-2 cups of tomato sauce (Homemade or jarred. My recipe is below.)
- · 1 zucchini, sliced into thin disks
- · 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
- · 1½ cups Italian style breadcrumbs
- · 1½ cups whole wheat flour
- · Grated parmesan, salt and pepper and olive oil to taste
Step 1: Room temperature pizza dough
|The dredging station|
|A big, tasty blob of Zucchini Parmesan Pizza!|
- · 3-4 large tomatoes, chopped
- · 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (For this batch, I had 3 shallots so I used those instead)
- · 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- · Olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
- · Chopped fresh herbs such as basil
Pour olive oil into a large pot on medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Stir. Sauté for around 3-4 minutes or until the onion starts to become translucent. Add chopped tomatoes and stir through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix through and let simmer on low heat for at least 10 minutes. Add fresh herbs, stir and let simmer for another few minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- -Let sauce cool slightly, then puree in blender or mixer.
- -Add chopped fresh vegetables with the onion to make a primavera sauce
|I use this sauce for pizza and for pasta.|
Heat the grill to medium heat. Oil the grill and place the dough (1-2 pieces) onto the grill. Close the grill and cook for 3 minutes. Flip the dough, cover with sauce and topping(s), close the lid and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the grill, slice and serve.
- · 1 fresh whole wheat pizza crust, at room temperature
- · 1 medium onion, sliced and caramelized
- · 1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed
- · Around 1 cup of part skim ricotta cheese
- · Around 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, cut into small chucks
- · Around 1-1½ cups of grated parmesan
- · 2 parts rosemary to 1 part basil, finely chopped
- · Garlic powder, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
- · Organic arugula, chopped
Step 1: Caramelize your onions
Here is a link to an easy recipe I found online that I use to caramelize onions. Add a little water or white wine to deglaze the pan if the onions begin to stick. While the onions cook, you can begin Step 2. After the onions have cooked, transfer them to a plate to cool slightly.
Step 2: Prepare and set aside your greens and parmesan
Chop the arugula and your herb mixture and set them aside separately. If using a block of parmesan, grate and set aside. If using store bought grated parmesan, pour it onto a bowl or plate so it is ready for you to use.
Step 3: Assemble your topping
To a large mixing bowl add the kernels of corn, ricotta, some of the grated parmesan (reserve some for topping the whole pizza later), ¾ of the chopped herbs, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix and taste. Adjust seasoning if needed. Add the caramelized onions and stir. Set mixture aside.
Step 4: Prepare and grill the pizza
Either, roll out dough into a circle using a rolling pin or flatten it out with the heels of your hands. Brush the grill with olive oil then set to medium heat. Place dough onto the grill and cook for 3 minutes. Hold your breath for ultimate success, flip over the dough and brush with olive oil. Spread the ricotta mixture onto the crust and add mozzarella chunks. Cook 2-3 minutes more. Remove from the grill, top with remaining herbs, shaved parmesan and arugula.
Slice and serve.
|Corn and Caramelized Onion Pizza in the shape of a non-specific country.|
|Topped with chopped arugula. YUM!|