If all you get out of this post is that you should be grilling tomatoes, then my job here is done. (But, really, this super-easy grilled take on Margherita pizza is the stuff of late-summer-night dreams.)
When charred on the grill, vine-ripened tomatoes get even more tomato-y, and a buzz in the food processor with olive oil, salt, and garlic produce a slightly smoky sauce that takes the tomato-mozzarella-basil pizza concept to a whole new level.
Start with four large, ripe-but-not-overripe tomatoes. Cut them through the equator, carve out the core, and rub both sides of each piece with extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Then slap them on a hot grill and cook until you see char marks on both sides (6-ish minutes per side).
Transfer the grilled tomatoes to a plate and let them cool for 10 minutes. Pour any accumulated juices off the plate and dump the tomatoes into the bowl of a food processor. Add a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a minced garlic clove. Pulse just until it looks like a chunky sauce.
Roll or stretch your dough and grill it on both sides. Spread a few spoonfuls of grilled tomato sauce on top and scatter on some shredded or sliced fresh mozzarella. Close the lid and let the pizza cook for a few minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Top the pizza with a handful of torn basil leaves, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Mangia!
Twice-Grilled Margherita Pizza
Makes one 12-inch pizza
- 4 large heirloom tomatoes (ripe but still firm), cored and halved horizontally
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing/drizzling
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large garlic clove, minced or finely chopped
- 1 (14 to 16-ounce) ball Basic or Slow-Rise Pizza Dough (or pre-made pizza dough)
- ¼ pound (4 ounces) fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
- Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
Preheat an outdoor grill on medium-high. Assemble the following tools and keep them within arm’s reach from the grill: an oven mitt, long-handled tongs, a large spatula or pizza peel, and a large cutting board for the finished pizza.
To make the sauce: Brush both sides of each tomato slice with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Place the tomatoes on the hot grill and cook for about 6 minutes or until you see grill marks. Flip the tomatoes and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes.
Transfer the grilled tomatoes to a plate and let them cool for 10 minutes. Drain off any accumulated liquid. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and the minced garlic. Pulse just until it looks like a chunky sauce. Pour ½ to 2/3 cup of the sauce into a bowl; save the rest in an airtight container in the fridge for pasta later in the week.
To stretch out the dough: Place the dough on a floured cutting board and, using your hands, gently stretch it into a 12-inch square or disk, making sure that it retains the same thickness throughout (more or less). (Alternatively, you can roll it out to a 12-inch square or circle.)
To grill the pizza: Brush the dough with olive oil, making sure to get all the way to the edges. Carefully transfer the dough to the grill, oiled-side down, and grill for 3 minutes or until it puffs a bit and the bottom shows grill marks. Using long-handled tongs or a pizza peel, flip the dough. Brush the top with olive oil. Working quickly, spread the sauce on the dough and top with the cheese. Close the grill lid and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Remove the pizza from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes, then garnish with the basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt; slice and serve.