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Food & Entertaining

Grilled Margherita Pizza

Author: Sydney Dye
Issue: May, 2013, Page 155

Margherita pizza combines the classic trio of tomato, cheese and basil, representing the colors of the Italian flag. The no-cook sauce is created from the freshest of tomatoes and makes for the perfect summertime pizza. Your outdoor grill turns into a veritable pizza oven when used with a pizza stone, producing a wonderfully crisp and lightly charred crust.

Makes two 10-inch pizzas

1 pound ripe tomatoes or one (16-oz) can whole or diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced into rounds
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound pizza dough, store bought or homemade (recipe follows)
Extra-virgin olive oil (enough for brushing dough rounds)

PREPARE a medium-hot fire in the grill.

PLACE a pizza stone on the grill rack to preheat (10-15 minutes on medium-high heat to preheat the stone).

CUT the tomatoes into wedges and trim away the stem area. Gently squeeze the wedges over a bowl to remove the excess juice and seeds.

COMBINE the tomatoes with the garlic and half of the basil in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until the tomatoes break down into a sauce, scraping the sides as needed. Remove sauce and put into a sieve placed over a bowl. Using the back of a spoon, press down on the sauce to remove any excess liquid. Set aside.

DIVIDE the pizza dough.

SPREAD and flatten half of the dough into a thin, 10-inch free-form round (about 1/8 inch thick), using your hands or a rolling pin. Do not make a lip. The dough does not need to form a circle but should have a uniform thickness. Repeat with the other half of dough.

BRUSH top of dough lightly with olive oil; set aside. 

SLIDE the rolled dough onto a pizza peel or flat baking sheet and transfer to the preheated pizza stone, oiled side down. Within a minute or two, the dough will begin to rise slightly and char marks will appear on the underside.

FLIP the crust back over onto the pizza peel or baking sheet using metal tongs, cooked side up. 

SPREAD a thin layer of sauce over the round; top with half of the mozzarella and season with salt and pepper. 

TRANSFER the pizza back to the hot grill.

ROTATE the pizza, using tongs to keep the crust from burning. The pizza is done when the top is bubbly and the cheese is completely melted (approximately 5-6 minutes). 

REMOVE pizza from heat; top with remaining ribbons of basil. Repeat with remaining half of the dough. Let pizza cool briefly before cutting into wedges and serving.

To create ribbons of basil, or a chiffonade, stack leaves, roll them tightly, and then cut across them with a sharp knife.

Homemade Thin-Crust Pizza Dough

Makes enough dough for two 10-inch pizzas

3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon active-dry or instant yeast
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

SPRINKLE yeast over the warm water (105° to 110°) and allow it to dissolve and activate (about 5 minutes). 

MOUND the flour on a clean work surface; mix in the salt and create a well in the center. Pour the yeast and water mixture into the well.  

MIX the water and flour a little at a time, until a shaggy dough forms. When the dough is firm enough to hold its shape, scrape the dough together and knead until it is smooth, shiny and elastic (about 5-7 minutes). The dough should still feel moist and slightly tacky. If it is too sticky, work in more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until smooth. 

PLACE the dough in a mixing bowl that has been lightly brushed with olive oil; brush top of dough with olive oil. 

COVER with a clean kitchen towel and let dough rest for at least 15 minutes.

If you have time at this point, you can let the dough rise until you need it or until doubled in bulk (about an hour and a half). After rising, the dough can be used immediately or refrigerated for up to three days.

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