A wood-burning oven won’t seem so glamorous once you try this recipe. I’ve been wanting to recreate the pizza I had in Positano for some time now, but I was discouraged by my kitchen’s lack of a wood burning oven. Well, after deciding to grill my pizza, I wasn’t missing that fancy Neapolitan fixture one bit. Grilled pizza is perfect for summer, incredibly versatile and a breeze to make. Plus, since all of the prep is done up front, this recipe would be great for outdoor entertaining!
For the dough, you will need:
- 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
Begin by mixing the yeast with 1 tablespoon flour and 1/4 cup warm water. Next, in a large bowl combine 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, oil, the remaining 1/2 cup warm water and the yeast mixture, and stir to combine. The dough should form quickly. Once it does, move the dough to a heavily-floured work surface.
Begin kneading the dough, adding flour as necessary when the dough becomes too sticky. Continue kneading for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough becomes soft and elastic. Once the desired consistency is reached, separate the dough into two pieces and place into 2 dry bowls and cover with plastic wrap. Leave the dough to rise for 1-2 hours, until it doubles in size.
Again, heavily flour your work surface and begin to press out the dough. Our instructor in Italy, known only as “Pizza Man,” encouraged us to use the “disco” method wherein you turn the flattened pizza dough, as though you’re working a turn table, stretching the dough ever so slightly as your rotate it counter-clockwise. He was a whiz at doing this– I’m nowhere near as good, but it’s a pretty straightforward technique and allows the dough to retains more air and texture than a rolling pin would.
Allow the dough to sit and rise for another 10 or so minutes before grilling. In the meantime, prepare the sauce. For the Margherita, you will need:
- 8-10 plum tomatoes, seeded, peeled and coarsely chopped (canned tomatoes work, too)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus additional for brushing
- 1 tbsp white wine
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 6 oz grated mozzarella
- lots of fresh basil
Simmer the tomatoes, salt, olive oil and white wine in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and reduced, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the crushed garlic about 2/3 of the way through and continue to simmer. Have the sauce, mozzarella, basil and prepared dough ready at the grill. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil as well as the grill rack. Place the dough, oiled side down, directly onto the rack and grill for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown (I like to pre-heat my grill on high and then reduce it to medium for cooking, to ensure I get nice grill marks!).
Oil the upward-facing side before flipping. After flipping, add your toppings. For the Margherita, add the chunky tomato sauce, followed by the shredded mozzarella and basil leaves. After 2 minutes, turn off the heat and close the top of the grill to allow the cheese to melt fully, another 1-2 minutes. Cut and serve immediately!
The crust is perfectly crispy yet light while the toppings are fresh and well-balanced, reminiscent of the simple, straightforward recipe I learned in Positano. On the side I made a quick, clean arugula salad with lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, black pepper and shaved Pecorino Romano. The salty cheese with the acidic dressing and peppery greens is both authentic and delicious.
Pizza Man would be proud.