Friends of ours – Rob and Teresa on S/V Yohela – introduced us to grilled pizzas and we’ve been fans of the concept ever since. Rob and Teresa were known for their “grilled pizza parties” aboard Yohela. They would provide the pizza crusts, the grill, and sometimes the sauce and cheese. Other cruisers would bring any toppings they had available such as pepperoni, sausage, black olives, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, etc.
All the toppings were arrayed buffet style. Rob would grill one side of the dinner-plate-sized crusts and send them below for toppings. Each guest would fix their pizza according to their preferences and deliver it back to Rob for further grilling. It made for fun evenings and delicious individual pizzas.
We love pizza aboard Legacy, and good pizza is hard to find in many parts of the world. We used to make pizza in the oven, but have switched to the grill to keep the cabin cooler. Our grill is considerably smaller than the one on Yohela, so we make small rectangular pizzas and plan on 1 — 1 ½ per person.
The first step is to start with the crust:
Crust for Grilled Pizza
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup warm (105 – 115 degrees) water
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 3 cups flour
- ½ cup cornmeal (optional; can substitute additional ½ cup flour)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
Dissolve the sugar in 1 cup warm water. Add the yeast, stir to dissolve, and allow to proof. Combine 3 cups of flour or 2 ½ cups flour and ½ cup cornmeal, the salt, the yeast mixture, and olive oil in a medium bowl. Beat until well mixed, adding more water or flour if necessary. Knead about 5 minutes. The added cornmeal makes a stiffer dough which is a little easier to grill.
Let the dough rise until double, about 1 hour. Punch down and shape into small balls, one for each pizza. The number of balls will vary depending on the size pizza you plan to make. This recipe makes enough dough for two full-sized pizzas. Use immediately or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.
While the dough is rising, assemble the rest of your ingredients. Here is a recipe for an easy pizza sauce:
Pizza Sauce: Saute ¼ cup minced onions and 1 clove garlic, minced, in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add one 14-ounce can tomatoes. Puree with stick blender, season with salt, Italian herbs, a little sugar, and a little red wine vinegar. Simmer until thick. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar (optional) and simmer a few more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with additional salt, sugar, herbs, or vinegar.
Prepare your other toppings: grated cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, Monterey jack, or whatever else you have), pizza sauce or pesto, pepperoni or other meats, cooked chicken, assorted veggies and olives.
When preparing meat toppings, remember that the pizzas won’t be on the grill long enough to cook or crisp the pepperoni or other meats. We like to sauté pepperoni slices until crisped before adding to pizza. Crumbled cooked chorizo or other sausage makes a good topping as well. We sometimes make a great Mexican pizza with grated Oaxaca or Asadero cheese, cooked chorizo, diced green chiles, and diced red onions. Yum!
Finally, assemble and cook the pizzas: Roll out the crusts to a convenient size. Cook one side of each crust over a hot grill briefly until the dough is firm and has nice grill marks. Put the cooked crusts on a cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet or plate, cooked side up. Add sauce, cheese, and any desired toppings on the pre-cooked side. Return the pizza to the grill and cook briefly until the crust is done and the cheese melted. Grilled pizza pros advise to use moderation in toppings. If the layer of toppings is too thick, it’s hard to get the cheese to melt before the crust is incinerated!
Fair winds and following seas,
Heather, The Cruising Cook