Saturday, August 18, 2012

Grilled Pizza with Carrot Sauce and Vegetables

A colleague from work has a pizza oven in her backyard that her husband built. They have an annual tradition of celebrating the end of the school year with a pizza party, and I was lucky enough to participate this year. It wasn't quite the same as sitting down in Roma for some wood-fired pizza like we did last summer, but it was an awesome treat that Will and I both were day-dreaming about for days following.

I have made pizza crust before, but even given the immeasurable improvements of a wood-fired crust over a baked one, her recipe was really far superior to anything I'd mixed up previously. She was able to dictate the recipe to me from memory, and even after only making it once, I think I pretty much am able to as well, because it really is that easy.

Pizza crust
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you can replace up to 1 cup with whole wheat flour if you want)
1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix together water and oil. Blend together dry ingredients, then knead in wet ingredients (I use the dough hook of my stand mixer.) Allow to rise, about 2-4 hours (put in fridge if you're not going to use it until later.)

Punch down dough. Divide in half - and spread each half into a 12-inch round using floured hands on a floured pizza peel or cookie sheet. Top with sauce and desired toppings. Place oven preheated to 475 and cook until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling - 5-8 minutes.

Don't copy this image, because we assembled our first pizza on an un-floured cookie sheet...
be sure to coat the sheet with flour or corn meal first!
When a hot, hot day finally struck Seattle, I decided it was a perfect chance to try out her pizza on our backyard grill. To put my own twist on it, and attempt to justify some of the guilt for massive amounts of cheese, I made a carrot-based pizza sauce rather than tomato. It was completely delicious and other than being totally untraditional, I'm surprised I haven't seen it before. Of course, tomatoes are packed with nutrition of their own, but carrots bring their own vitamins to the mix, or make a great combination with some tomato paste in the sauce or fresh tomato toppings.

The carrot sauce even looks just like tomato!
Carrot Sauce
4 carrots, sliced
chicken broth just to cover
1 large clove garlic, sliced
1 sprig rosemary
1 tablespoon tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
Simmer carrots until soft. Remove rosemary and puree mixture until smooth.

The cookie sheet can go straight into the oven, or you can try to transfer the pizza to a preheated baking stone (best to use a pizza peel for that though). Because we were grilling ours, I placed a baking stone on the grill first for a bit of insulation from the flames. My cookie sheets seemed to warp, but the returned to their original shape after cooling.

We topped ours with carrot puree sauce, then sliced peppers (poblano and red bell), sliced mushrooms, whole basil leaves (lots!), and a mix of grana padano and mozzerella cheeses.

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