Happy Fourth of July! Kinda lame having this holiday on a Wednesday, but whatever, I’ll take it! I’ve had a leisurely morning sleeping in, running around the lake with my dog, and enjoying a sublime breakfast and coffee. Ahhh.
It’s too hot too cook much in my kitchen so we’ve been taking the cooking outdoors. I’m sure by now you’re familiar with the amazingness of grilled pizza. It’s been a trend for a few years now and I don’t see it going away any time soon — it really allows you to achieve the texture and flavor of a brick oven pizza without the brick oven! It is a treat we look forward to every summer.
The inspiration for this pizza was from a restaurant outside of Charlottesville, the Blue Mountain Brewery, where I was visiting a couple weekends ago with some friends. Cilantro pesto pizza. WHY hadn’t I thought of this before?! Cilantro is my favorite thing ever. This pizza was pretty awesome, but this is Bounteous after all, and you know I think homemade is always better :). Not that I am claiming any special talent, but just because I can make it how I like it, use high-quality ingredients and not cut any corners. So here is my version:
Cilantro pesto pizza with queso blanco, cotija, and veggies
I love this neo-neopolitan pizza dough, but when grilling pizza we’ve always used this method from the Washington Post. Here is the direct link to the recipe that accompanies the article. The dough is so chewy and delicious.
I’ve made this cilantro pesto before, which is why I am surprised I never thought to put it on pizza! It is super easy and quick. I doubled this recipe to make enough to generously top four pizzas:
1 cup packed chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup safflower oil, or other mild vegetable oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Toast the pine nuts on a dry skillet and remove when browned and fragrant. Puree all ingredients together. Voilà.
Cheese — the pizza I had at Blue Mountain Brewery was topped with an inordinate amount of cheap mozzarella and goat cheese. I thought it would balance the cilantro well to stick with a Central American flavor profile and went instead with a mixture of cotija and queso blanco. Similar texture…but better.
Veggies — do whatever you’d like, but we went with red onion, cherry tomato and jalapeno. It was perfect. Grill the veggies beforehand if you want them cooked more thoroughly on your pizza — otherwise they’re only on the grill for a couple minutes.
I’m not the grilling expert in my family, so reference the Washington Post article for the specific details — but in a nutshell, the grill will get very hot and the dough will cook very quickly. The idea is to sear the dough on one side, with the grill covered. Flip, add your toppings, close the cover again and let that side cook for another minute or two. Again, since the time on the grill is so brief, pre-cook your toppings if you want them more done.
This was one of my favorite pizzas we’ve ever made and it’s definitely going into the regular rotation. Grilled pizza is the perfect addition to your holiday barbeque today!