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Pizza on the Grill: Real Fast Food

Now that the snow and ice are thawing off our outdoor grills, it’s time to change the way you cook pizza. Never mind the pizza stone in the oven - a hot grill, with its high, direct heat and ability to create a crisp crust and char marks, is the best place to cook a pizza. Start with fresh dough, a pre-baked crust or even a frozen pizza – closing the barbecue creates an oven environment, allowing toppings and cheese to melt.

Most people fear the barbecue method because they can’t believe the dough won’t fuse instantly to the grill – I was the same. Trust me, it won’t. The high heat creates a crisp crust that doesn’t stick at all, regardless of whether or not you oil the grill or the dough. Just slap a rolled-out circle or oval of dough straight on the grill, flip it with tongs after giving it a few minutes to turn golden, then spread and scatter toppings on top, close the grill for a few minutes to allow the cheese to melt and voilà. Real fast food.

Basic Pizza Dough

Plain or flavored pizza dough also makes great breadsticks – roll the risen dough into sticks as thin or as fat as you like, sprinkle with coarse salt or grated Parmesan cheese and bake until golden.

1 cup lukewarm water
1 pkg. (or 2 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar or honey
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour – all-purpose, whole-wheat or any combination of the two (I usually use about 2 3/4 cups)
1 tsp. salt
A drizzle (1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp.) olive or canola oil

In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast and sugar; set aside for 5 minutes, until it’s foamy. (If it doesn’t get foamy, either your water was too hot and killed the yeast or it was inactive to begin with – toss it and buy fresh yeast or try again!)

Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and oil and stir until the dough comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 8 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat all over. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for half an hour to an hour, until doubled in bulk. If you want, you can let it rise more slowly in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.

Roll the dough out into one or two pizzas. Spread the pizza dough with tomato sauce or paste, sprinkle with desired toppings and bake on a preheated pizza stone or cookie sheet at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes, until bubbly and golden, or cook on the grill (see above).
Makes enough dough for 2 to 9” pizzas, or one big rectangular one.

Per slice (based on 12 slices): 111 calories, 0.7 g total fat (0.1 g saturated fat, 0.3 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat), 3.2 g protein, 22.5 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.1 g fiber. 6% calories from fat.

To make flavored pizza dough: Add a generous pinch of chopped fresh or dried basil, rosemary or oregano, a clove of minced garlic, a few finely chopped olives or sun dried tomatoes (if they come packed in oil, use it in place of the olive oil) or 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper along with the flour.


Julie is a best-selling cookbook author, food writer, cooking instructor and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio. She lives in Calgary with her husband and son, Wilem. Watch for her cooking show, It’s Just Food, with co-host Ned Bell on Access TV and CLT stations across Canada. For more information, visit www.dinnerwithjulie.com.

 

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