Thursday, July 1, 2010

Margherita Pizza on the Grill

   The grilled pizza last night was almost a complete disaster.  Thinking back, I'm not sure how I was able to salvage it at all.  Luckily, Tim had an errand to run while I was preparing dinner.  He doesn't do well with the craziness that ensued when I was attempting the pizza.
   I've been wanting to try pizza on the grill for a while now, but was inspired to do it this week when I picked up a copy of Food Network Magazine at a gas station on our drive home from vacation.   There was a recipe for pizza on the grill, but I didn't follow it 100%.  Since I had success with the recipe from 1,000 Vegan Recipes for homemade pizza crust before, I decided to use that one as my base. It was a simpler recipe than the one in the magazine anyway.  From there I followed the directions from the magazine, so I guess it was sort of a hybrid of the two that I used.  The recipe in 1,000 Vegan recipes calls for all-purpose flour, but last time I used half all-purpose and half whole wheat.  This time I decided to use all spelt flour.  This may have been my first mistake, but I can't be sure.   Let me just describe to you what happened step-by-step, and maybe some of you can help me figure out what my mistake was.

Here's the recipe I used for the basic pizza dough, adapted from 1,000 Vegan Recipes

Olive oil
1 cup warm water
1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
pinch sugar
2 1/2 cups spelt flour

Step 1:
  Lightly oil a bowl.  Set it aside.

Step 2:
In another bowl, combine the water and yeast and stir until the yeast dissolves.

Step 3:
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until you get a soft dough.  At this point the dough was really sticky.  I knew it wasn't right, but wasn't sure if I measured the flour wrong or if it was because of the spelt or what.  I added a little more flour, carefully, but it didn't make a big difference.  I was worried, but still hoping for the best.   I decided to proceed.

Step 4:
Flour your hands and transfer the dough to the oiled bowl.  Turn the dough to coat with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rise until it doubles in bulk, about an hour.

Here is my dough after about an hour.  It was doubled in size, but I was very concerned about its sticky appearance.

Step 5:   Flatten the dough a little, and recover it.  Allow it to relax for 10 minutes.
After I let the dough relax, it still looked too sticky.  My fears were confirmed when I tried to remove it from the bowl to my floured work surface.  Check out what was left in the bowl and you can see just how sticky it was:

Step 6:  Transfer the dough to a floured surface.  (Make sure your hands are floured, especially if your dough is as sticky as mine was!) Flatten the dough with your hands, turn it and flour it and work it into a rectangular shape.  This was extremely difficult for me because my dough was so sticky and ripped easily.   I kept adding more and more flour to my hands and the top of the dough and that did help.  I was nervous that I was going to overwork the dough; I had to keep reshaping it because I couldn't just lift it and turn it over.    I finally ended up with this:
Step 7:  Brush the dough with olive oil.  

Step 8:  Brush an inverted baking sheet with oil.  Lift the dough onto the baking sheet.  Ummmm....this was tough.  At this point I was seriously thinking of dinner alternatives.  I knew that just transferring the dough shouldn't be that difficult.  This dough was not normal. 
Step 9:  Prepare your toppings.  I used Mejier brand all-natural pizza sauce.  It only has a few ingredients, no crap ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, and is great for a pre-made sauce.  My other toppings were one tomato, thinly sliced, 6 slices fresh mozzarella cheese (My local grocery store makes fresh mozzarella and its so delicious), and some fresh basil.  Have your toppings on a tray or plate, ready to go.  

Step 10:  Heat the grill to medium low.  Lift the dough by its corners and lay on the grill, oiled side down.  This was so tricky.  Having Tim there to hold the pan while I transfer it would have been helpful, but with the dough I was working with it still would have been hard.  The dough immediately started slipping through the grill grates.  I had to try to lift it and reshape it as it totally lost its shape when I lifted it. 
Once the dough was on the grill, I was thinking about what else I had in the house that I could quickly make for dinner.  Part of me wanted to just take it off and give up, by my stubborn side told me to see it through.
Step 11:  Cook the dough until it puffs up and the underside is stiff and marked.  This should take about 5 minutes.  Flip the dough with tongs and add your toppings. Allow to cook a few more minutes. This part didn't go well.  A part of the dough that had slipped into the grill grates was burned and stuck to the grill.  When I tried to turn the dough, it broke off.  I was still undeterred and didn't give up, although many would have thrown in the towel at this point.  Here are my broken off pieces of dough: :-(

I tried a few pieces of the dough and thought it tasted a bit weird.  My guess it was just the different taste of the spelt flour that I'm not used to.  It wasn't terrible, but I couldn't help but think my picky husband wasn't going to like it.  Nonetheless, I moved forward.  Here is what the final pizza looked like, with part of the crust broken off:


  The rest of the meal included a spinach salad with sliced strawberries and sliced almonds.  This is my go-to salad.  I love fresh spinach and strawberries are the perfect match.  Not only do they taste great but because they are a vitamin C source they help our bodies to absorb the iron in the spinach.  I used a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette because I was in a hurry.  I try to make my own dressing more than not, but when necessary I use a good store-bought variety.
I also had extra tomato, cheese, and basil so I made a caprese salad as well.  I layered the tomato, mozzarella cheese slice, and fresh basil, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and drizzled it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

By the time Tim got home, the food was already on the table.  I was so nervous that the pizza was going to be horrible, but it wasn't.  The dough tasted much better with the sauce and toppings on it, and Tim had nothing bad to say.  He will definitely tell me if he doesn't like something, so after such a fiasco cooking I was relieved he actually liked the pizza.  Next time I will probably go back to a regular whole wheat and all-purpose flour combo as that seemed to work much better.  If I mess it up again I'll know its me and not the flour! :-)


  1. WOW!! You always amaze me! My questions is...Does Meghan eat the same thing?? Victoria would take one bite and then hand the tomato back.

  2. Yeah, that's pretty much what happened with Meghan and the tomato. She made the funniest "YUCK" face I've ever seen and pulled it right out of her mouth. I'm not sure if it was the texture, the taste, or both. About 85-90% of the time she eats the same thing we do at dinner time, but on nights like this, I give her something different. I let her try ours, but knew it wouldn't be her main dish.