Barbeque Chicken Pizza

There is nothing like a delicious pizza pulled straight from of a brick fire oven:  woody, crispy, and perfectly cooked. Homemade pizza makes a really easy and fun meal, though, sans brick fire oven, not nearly as satisfying. We’ve spent many-a-night crafting away on a “masterpiece” pizza and since identifying a great brick fire oven substitute, the results have been mouth-watering. We have started using… the grill! Grilling the pizza ensures a nice crispy crust and imparts the unique flavor that only a grill can achieve. The key is grilling the dough first, at a high temperature, then topping, and re-grilling at a lower temperature to melt the cheese and cook the toppings. This has become our favorite way to have pizza, and it’s exponentially quicker than using the oven.

This recipe is by far a favorite, vaguely inspired by California Pizza Kitchen, except this pizza is obviously revamped to maximize the nutrition and freshness, and minimize all things CPK (no offense to the CPK lovers out there). For a vegetarian protein source, the chicken can be swapped out for tempeh, which provides a nice textural contrast to the pizza. We usually top half with chicken, half with tempeh.

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In our opinion, the stroke of genius that makes this pizza amazing is the zing of feta cheese. (Sadly, we can’t take credit for the idea. After many attempts perfecting the pizza, Carli’s boyfriend Danny suggested the feta. He’s a keeper). The feta—red onion—cilantro combo gives the pizza a much needed acidity and freshness. Since feta doesn’t melt so well, we also add some fresh mozzarella to maintain the gooey cheesy quality that defines pizza.

 

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Ingredients:

1 package prepared pizza dough (we like Trader Joe’s whole wheat)

1-2 tsp olive oil

4-6 oz crumbled feta cheese

4 oz shredded fresh mozzarella

1 generous bunch of cilantro (about 4-6 cups)

1 cup prepared bbq sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s original is usually in our fridge)

2 cups thinly sliced red onion

4 cups cooked shredded chicken (we use a rotisserie chicken)

1 ½ cups tempeh crumbled (if making vegetarian)

*Note: on the protein, the amounts listed will cover ½ of the pizza—be sure to adjust accordingly if you plan on using all one protein source

**Amounts listed are very adaptable to your palate

Directions:

Pre-heat grill to high

Let pizza dough come to room temperature

Meanwhile, prepare toppings:

Crumble the cheese if needed, thinly slice onion, and shred prepared                                    chicken,

Crumble tempeh, clean and roughly remove long stems from cilantro

Divide dough in half, and roll out each portion on a floured surface to roughly 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch, lightly brush top side with olive oil

Grill pizza dough oiled side down for about 3 minutes until it begins to puff, remove

With the grilled side facing up, generously spread bbq sauce.

The layer cheese, chicken or tempeh, and then onion.

Lower grill heat to medium heat and place pizza uncooked side down to grill

Close lid and grill for 6-8 minutes until cheese begins to melt and crust is  crisp.

Remove and top with cilantro!

 

Tips for making grilled pizza:

  1. Let the dough sit out about 20 minutes before rolling—it makes it more pliable
  2. Divide dough in half, or thirds makes it infinitely easier to manage on the grill—we usually make 2 to 3 “flatbread” shapes rather than one circular pizza
  3. Roll out the dough thinly—it will bubble and puff up on the grill more than you’d expect
  4. Use a high grill setting initially to ensure a crispy, flavorful crust, then turn it down to medium low before grilling the other side—the second grill time is mainly to melt the cheese and bring all the ingredients together.

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Salsa Fresca

During a summer BBQ a few years ago, the unthinkable happened- the salsa ran out! Thankfully, one of our friends from Mexico City whipped up her home-style salsa, saving the day. This recipe will put any jarred salsa to shame, it is unbelievably fresh and clean, managing to cool you down but leave your mouth tingling. We eagerly followed our guest to the kitchen as she happily shared her family recipe, which has now been adopted as the salsa of choice in our refrigerator.

This past summer, we planted a jalapeno plant along with our tomatoes. As a gardener, Karen is not known for her green thumb, but for some reason this jalapeno plant was a true fighter, supplying us with more than we could use.

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We FINALLY got around to using up the last of our jalepeno bounty and whipped up a batch of this salsa to add a kick of freshness into the post-holiday blues.

We’ve estimated amounts here – the recipe is foolproof and open to variation!

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Ingredients

(makes approximately 4 cups)

4-6 roma tomatoes (try to choose ones equal in size), cored left whole

1 jalapeno (optional, cored and deseeded, or left whole- depending on how spicy you like it)

1/4 – 1/3 cup white onion, chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Salt to taste

lime zest to taste (optional)

Use enough tomatoes to fit side-by-side in a small saucepan, stand upright.

Core and scoop out the seeds from the jalapeno if using.  The seeds add heat so vary according to personal taste! Add to saucepan with tomatoes.

Add ¼ cup of water to pan, cover and cook over medium heat for about 7 minutes, until tomatoes begin to soften and peel splits but still maintaining their shape. Be sure all of the water does not evaporate and add more if needed.  Essentially, you are doing a quick steam on them.

Meanwhile, chop onion and cilantro and reserve.

Remove the tomatoes and jalapeno and place into a blender. Blend on medium setting to desired consistency, skin and all.  We like ours to be chunky. The salsa will thicken further after refrigerating.  In a medium bowl, stir into the puree the chopped onion and cilantro.  Salt to taste.