Pizza! On the grill!

Grilled Margherita Pizza w/ Tomato Walnut Pesto

Happy Monday to you.

Maybe it’s a New York thang, but there’s really no way that I don’t enjoy eating pizza. It could be a greasy dollar slice, an artisanal thin-crust pie, a corner hunk of Sicilian, or a piping slice of deep-dish — I will eat it, ALL of it, and no you can’t have my crust. But in a city bubbling with pizza joints it’s hard to find a reason to actually make your own.

Until, that is, you grow the most bomb-ass beefsteak tomatoes + Italian sweet basil in your flourishing urban garden.

Then there are PLENTY of reasons to pizza it up.

Grilled Margherita Pizza w/ Tomato Walnut Pesto

Grilled Margherita Pizza w/ Tomato Walnut Pesto

The key to making this the most magical margherita pizza you ever damn had is FRESHNESS, so don’t even think about buying pre-packaged tomatoes or those ungodly plastic containers of basil. Get to your farmer’s market — or your Whole Foods, whatever — and pick out the freshest, brightest, most fragrant tomatoes and basil you can find. They are the shining stars of this recipe, so it’s important they’re impeccable in every way.

I was lucky enough to grow both of these ingredients on my own, and you guys — Just wow. In my little itty planter on my North-facing terrace I have managed to grow the most plump, juicy tomatoes I have ever had — Bright in color, firm to the touch, sweet, savory, flavorful, everything. The tomatoes — plus the basil!! the basil is crazy aromatic too — are so fresh they practically make this pizza taste like a salad, I’m completely serious! So if you don’t have your own garden mimic that just-picked freshness with the most local produce you can find — Your effort will not be in vain, trust me.

Grilled Margherita Pizza w/ Tomato Walnut Pesto

Grilled Margherita Pizza w/ Tomato Walnut Pesto

Once the tomatoes and basil are curated it’s time to prep the tomato walnut pesto, which takes all of 15 minutes. I picked up this recipe from Bon Appetit’s July issue and was pleasantly surprised with just how much I liked it — On its own the pesto is pretty bold, but when used within the pizza the oak-y walnuts and salty anchovies really highlight the freshness of the tomatoes + basil, so to me it was a perfect match.

Grilled Margherita Pizza w/ Tomato Walnut Pesto

Grilled Margherita Pizza w/ Tomato Walnut Pesto

I wouldn’t say that grilling pizza — particularly on a stone, like I do here — lends any significant flavor or alters the pizza’s texture, but in the summer I grill whenever possible, so here we are. If you’d rather use your oven I won’t shade you (425F should be perfect!) but if you’re feeling frisky, do yourself a solid and keep it on the grill. xo

Grilled Margherita Pizza w/ Tomato Walnut Pesto

Grilled Margherita Pizza w/ Tomato Walnut Pesto

Ingredients:

  • PIZZA:
  • 1 lb ready to bake Pizza Dough
  • Tomato Walnut Pesto
  • 2 Beefsteak Tomatoes, sliced
  • a few handfuls Fresh Basil
  • 1 1/2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (or more if you’d like!)
  • TOMATO WALNUT PESTO:
  • 1/3 cup Walnuts
  • 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil + more for blending
  • a pinch of Sea Salt
  • 3 oil-packed Anchovies, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp Crushed or Minced Garlic
  • 3 tbsps Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • a pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • a pinch of Black Pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Place a pizza stone over the grill to warm simultaneously. Let pizza dough thaw to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the pesto. Pre-heat oven to 350F, then toast the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet until lightly browned and fragrant, ~10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Raise oven temperature to broil. In shallow baking dish toss the tomatoes in 1 tbsp EVOO and salt, then broil on oven middle-rack for 10 minutes until beginning to burst. Transfer to food processor, then combine with walnuts, anchovies, garlic, parmigiana, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Puree all ingredients until smooth, adding an additional tablespoon or two of EVOO as needed.
  4. On a floured surface work your pizza dough into a circle approximately 12″ in diameter. Layer with a thick film of tomato pesto, then top with sliced tomatoes, basil, and as much mozzarella as you would like. Transfer to pizza stone, then grill for 8 – 12 minutes until the crust has risen and begun to lightly brown. Immediately eat!

>> pesto is adapted from Bon Appetit.

>> As written there will be leftover pesto sauce — Store in a glass jar for up to 1 week! Can always be made in advance as well.

Grilled Margherita Pizza w/ Tomato Walnut Pesto