Thursday, September 8, 2011

Grilled Pesto Piadini

The first time we grilled pizza, it was one of those hand-hitting-head "Duh" moments.  What's not to love about lightly charred chewy bread?  Top it with a good drizzle of olive oil, a few off-the-vine tomatoes, torn fresh cheese and you've got a timeless dinner enjoyed around the Mediterranean for millenium.

So when I noticed my basil was growing at lightning speed, I knew pesto was coming.  Once it was made, the only question was pasta or pizza.  When I asked my husband which he wanted, there was no question.


Noticing my growing pile of tomatoes on my counter and the baby lettuces that were heading downhill in my fridge, I bumped that idea into Piadini.  If you aren't familiar with this concept, it is simply warm pizza with a cold salad on top.  Usually it's a individual sized pizza and you fold it like a taco.  I simply made one large and topped the whole thing with salad and we served right off the pizza peel.

The juices from the salad mingle with the pizza crust offering an instantaneous version of Panzanella. If you grew up in the US outside of an Italian family or neighborhood like me, the gourmande version of dipping your pizza crust in ranch or bottled "Creamy Italian" dressing.  (It was the only way to make a tasteless crust more palatable and even as a small toddler, I knew there had to be more flavor to almost everything I ate. Condiment "shopping" in the fridge was part of every meal.)

So, here's how it works.  Heat 1/2 of grill to high.  The other half to low or off.

Make or buy pizza dough. (Here's my basic dough recipe and you can keep it in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.) Spread the dough into a large circle (or individual size circles will work fine too.) on a pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet sprinkled with flour or cornmeal.  Gently lift onto the part of the grill on high.  Watch the beautiful blisters form and the sides looking slight charred then turn over with tongs and grill spatula.  Grill for a minute or until the dough is not sticky.  Using tongs remove to pizza peel or cookie sheet with the less grilled side up. Top it however you want to, but, SPARINGLY.  Remember this crust is good with nothing more than salt and olive oil.  Don't cover it up.  A spiral of marinara sauce, a drizzle of olive oil, a schmear of pesto.  A few torn pieces of mozzarella, sprinkle of feta, chunks of chevre.  A bit of proscuitto for carnivores. Pre-cooked veggies only - carmelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, roasted peppers.  (There won't be time to cook them if they are raw.)

Back on the low side of the grill until toppings are heated and cheese is melted.

Toss your favorite salad greens with a basic dressing (we used reduced balsamic and rosemary olive oil) and have any other salad ingredients fully prepped.
As soon as the pizza comes off the grill, slice it and pile the salad in the middle.  Serve.  If there are more than four eating (or you're feeding teenage boys), Repeat.

Feel free to use whatever greens or lettuce you have on hand for the salad or simply use a mixture or chopped big tomatoes or halved baby tomatoes.  The point is to have something cool and refreshing to pair with the warm pizza.

This is wine pizza.  Beer is reserved for the pizza out of the box.  We like tempranillo, Barbera or another full-bodied fruity wine if we have Balsamic in the dressing.  Otherwise, chianti or any other red wine works fine.

CWYG Stats
Veggie Box Items- Tomatoes (some from box, some from garden), basil (garden)

CWYG List Items - walnuts, flour, olive oil, salt, parmesan, garlic, lettuce mix, mozzarella, balsamic vinegar (reduced from 1 cup to 1/4 cup over low heat)

Grilled Pesto Piadini
1 lb bread or pizza dough
flour or cornmeal for sprinkling
Prepared Pesto
8 oz fresh mozzarella
4 cups mixed lettuces (or tear up a variety of whatever you have on hand)
1 pint cherry tomatoes or 1 lb large heirloom tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp reduced balsamic vinegar 
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill.  (Remember, half to high and the other half to low)

Sprinkle a pizza peel or very large cutting board with flour or cornmeal.  Carefully press the dough out until it's only 1/4" - 1/2" thick.  It should be fairly large, 14"-16" in diameter.  (As an alternative, use 1 1/2 lbs of dough, make 4 pieces and press into 8" very thin circles.)

Carefully slide onto the hot side of the grill.  When blisters form and the sides look slightly charred, flip and grill for 1-2 minutes or until you can move it easily. Flip it over and off the grill spread some of the pesto and tear the mozzarella over the top.

Place the pizza on the low side of the grill and cover to bake for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

While the pizza is grilling, toss the lettuce and tomatoes with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Remove the pizza from the grill and slice.  Top with the salad and serve.  (If making individuals, no need to slice.)

Copyright 2011 Christi Flaherty, TablaVie Cooking Classes

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Copyright 2012 TablaVie Personal Chef Service

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