Two general rules: you can load pizza made on the grill a little more heavily than pizza made in an oven. Also, you’ll want all toppings to be pre-cooked or pre-prepared, since once on the pizza they’ll cook for just a few minutes – basically, only long enough for the cheese to melt.
In the summertime, when the Frenchman and I (sporadically) have access to a barbecue, we often barbecue pizza. It’s especially good for feeding a crowd: it’s pleasing to every palate, can be adjusted for special diets, involves just the right amount of group participation, and makes a great breakfast the next morning. All the ingredients (dough and toppings) are prepared ahead of time, which makes it easy to pull off outdoors, or in a kitchen not your own.
- •2 x quantities pizza dough (see Note)
- olive oil, to rub
- pasta sauce or crushed tomatoes, to spread
- roasted zucchini slices
- mozzarella, torn, to scatter
- basil leaves, to serve
Slow-roasted cherry tomatoes
- 2 x 400 g punnets mixed cherry tomatoes
- 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 5 cracks black pepper
Garlic scape pesto
- 1 bunch (about 120 g) garlic scapes, washed and dried (see Note)
- 1 small bunch (90 g) basil, leaves picked
- 25 g (⅓ cup) grated parmesan
- 30 g (¼ cup) pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 large lemon, zest and juice
- ½ tsp salt
- 10 cracks black pepper
- 185 ml (¾ cup) olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 120°C. To make the roasted tomatoes, combine the tomatoes, oil, salt and pepper on a baking paper-lined baking tray and roast for 2 hours. Reduce heat to 90˚C and roast a further 1 hour or until roasted. You can prepare the roasted tomatoes up to 2 days ahead, then cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Meanwhile, to make the pesto, place the garlic scapes and basil in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 25 times. Add the parmesan, pumpkin seeds, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream and process for 1 minute or until the scapes and basil are well pureed. Taste the pesto; adjust the salt and lemon if needed.
Preheat the barbecue to high heat (about 220°C). Place the dough on a baking paper-lined baking tray, then pour over 1-2 tbsp olive oil and rub over the dough (the olive oil aids the stretching process). Using your fingers (or a spatula), slowly widen the dough circle until it covers roughly half of the tray.
Quickly walk your fingers lengthwise across the dough until you’ve scooped up half the pizza. As fast as you can, spread the dough across the barbecue, speedily making sure the dough is as stretched as possible, not bunched up in spots. Cook the dough on that side for 5 minutes or until the underside has grill marks and makes a hollow sound when you tap your finger against it, but is still a bit spongy. Flip the dough. Now build the pizza of your dreams: spread over the pasta sauce, scatter over the roasted tomatoes and zucchini, and mozzarella, and dollop over the pesto. Close the barbecue lid and allow the pizza to cook a further 5-6 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
When the pizza has finished cooking, pull it onto a cutting board using tongs. Scatter over the basil leaves, then slice it right away and enjoy hot.
• Garlic scapes are the flower buds of the garlic plant. Available from farmers’ markets, selected greengrocers and Asian grocers.
• Pro tip: I like to prepare all my toppings in little bowls or containers before I get started (mise en place). Move the bowls to the largest baking tray you have, and then place it right next to the barbecue. Now it’s easy to build each pizza quickly. This preparedness allows the cook to enjoy eating the first pizza with guests, before moving on to making the next one.
Here are some ideas for other combinations, which you can mix and match:
Base: tomato sauce, pesto, pistou, sour cream, mascarpone, eggplant puree, sweet potato puree.
Vegetable toppings: Spring – grilled asparagus, spinach, fresh peas, garlic, zucchini blossoms, spring onion, young onions (charred). Summer – cherry tomatoes (roasted or raw), zucchini (roasted or marinated), corn (raw in the flush of summer or grilled), capsicum (marinated or blistered), fennel (raw, sliced wisp-thin, or roasted), shishito peppers/pimientos de padrón (blistered). Autumn: mushrooms (raw or roasted), onions (caramelised or grilled), Brussels sprouts (shaved or roasted), roasted cauliflower, sauteed kale, potatoes (roasted or boiled).
Toppings: crumbled (cooked) sausage, any cured meat that strikes your fancy, hard cheese (parmesan, pecorino), semi-soft cheese (mozzarella, fontina, taleggio), soft cheese (ricotta, goat’s cheese), capers.
To finish: basil, chives, parsley, coriander, rocket, (hot) honey, balsamic reduction.
Recipe from The Roaming Kitchen by Cristina Sciarra, with photography by Cristina Sciarra.
Read our Blog Appétit interview with Cristina Sciarra and view more recipes by her.