As the seasons move from spring towards summer, the very thought of cooking and heating up the house becomes less and less appealing. Grilling is the perfect solution, but you can’t live on hot dogs, burgers and barbecued chicken forever.
The answer? Grilled pizzettas. The dough is easy to make; the pizzas are small enough so everyone can have their own, and the toppings need little preparation. Best of all, there’s practically nothing to clean up.
Grilled pizzettas are different from regular pizzas. Obviously, they’re smaller, and cooking on a grill gives the crust a completely different flavor and character. Don’t even think about loading them up with piles of cheese, meat and moist toppings like a Chicago deep dish pizza or your formerly crisp pizzetta will become soggy – and your grill will end up with a sizzling mess. Four or five ingredients at the most, applied sparingly, are perfect.
Think of these pizzettas as something more akin to the grilled flatbreads to be found in ethnic cuisines from around the world. Each culture – Spanish, Italian, Indian & others – uses different toppings typical of their own traditions. The version shown here uses classic Italian ingredients; fresh, minimally processed tomatoes, fragrant basil and rich, nutty Barolo salami from Chicago’s West Loop Salumi.
We first tried West Loop salumiere Greg Laketek’s authentic Old World-style salamis & cured meats some time back, and it was love at first bite; we still can’t get enough of it. Greg’s Barolo salami is a particular favorite. This sausage gets its amazing flavor from the best ingredients (including Barolo wine) and the long, slow curing process that delivers a taste that is meaty and nutty, with surprising notes of mushrooms and parmesan. This is what salami is supposed to taste like and so frequently does not.
We can’t all afford a wood-fired pizza oven or an authentic Indian tandoor, but a pizzetta grilled over an open flame is perhaps the easiest way for home cooks to achieve something close. This method of cooking fresh, yeasty dough delivers a wonderfully textured crust with a crackly-crisp exterior and soft, tender center.
It’s really fast too. In fact, you’d better have all of your ingredients standing by and ready to go; once you flip the dough onto the grill you have perhaps 5 or 6 minutes to do your thing. Once made, the dough can be refrigerated overnight, or even frozen for several weeks. With the smallest amount of planning, you can enjoy the fantastic flavor of steaming hot grilled pizzettas with a minimum of effort, all summer long. In fact, after you try this recipe, you might just forget about your stove until the snow flies.
Grilled Pizzettas with Fire-roasted Tomatoes and Barolo Salami
Grilled Pizzetta Dough
This super-simple dough recipe can be used to make grilled or conventional oven-baked pizza. The dough takes about 90 minutes total to make, but most of that is rising/resting time; the actual working time is less than 15 minutes.
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) or 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 ¼-3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
Pour 1 cup warm water into a medium bowl; stir in the sugar until dissolved and sprinkle with yeast. Let this mixture stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Whisk the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture. Add the flour and stir until the liquid is completely incorporated. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough comes together into a smooth elastic ball, adding more flour if needed, about 2-5 minutes. Oil a medium-sized bowl and put the dough into it. Roll the dough around until it is lightly coated with olive oil, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has risen and doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Punch down the dough, cover it again and let rise another 30 minutes.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces and let rest for 15 minutes before using. Roll out into irregular shapes about 1/4 of an inch thick and place on a baking sheet.
- 4 ripe plum tomatoes
- Salt & pepper
- Fresh basil, remove from stems and roughly torn into pieces
- 6 – 8 oz West Loop Barolo Salami, sliced about 1/4 inch thick and julienned
Preheat the grill to medium-high.
Cut a shallow “X” into the bottom of each tomato. When the grill is hot, place the tomatoes on the grill. Turn the tomatoes from time to time, allowing the skin to blister and char. When evenly charred, remove the tomatoes to a plate and allow to rest until cool enough to handle.
Slip the skins from the tomatoes. Don’t worry about getting every little bit of the blackened skin – that just adds to the smoky flavor. Quarter the tomatoes and remove the stem/core. Use your finger to scoop out the seeds. Chop the peeled & seeded tomatoes into 1/2 inch cubes and place into a small strainer to allow any juice to drain away, which can be reserved for other uses. The goal is to have a crust that is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside and that excess juice could lead to a soggy pizzetta. Sprinkle the chopped tomatoes with a little salt and pepper, then set aside.
Make the pizzettas:
Assemble all of your toppings and tools close to hand; once you begin to cook the pizzettas, things will go rather quickly. First, brush the surface of the dough with olive oil, then flip them, oil-side down, onto the hot grill. Brush the exposed dough with olive oil. Grill until the dough puffs up and the underside browns, about 3 minutes. Turn the rounds over and Immediately move to a cooler part of the grill.
Working quickly, top each grilled round with 1/4 of the tomato mixture and 1/4 of the salami. Return the pizzas to a hot part of the grill and close the lid to finish cooking and to allow the salami to warm through. Grill until the dough is cooked through and the bottom has browned, rotating the pizzettas with a spatula if necessary to prevent scorching. This will probably only take 1 – 2 minutes, but each grill is different, so watch closely. When the pizzettas are done, remove them to a cutting board and top each one with a generous sprinkling of fresh basil. Cut into quarters or leave whole. Serve while hot or at room temperature.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
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