I promise, I’m going to stop blogging about the food I ate in Hawaii…sometime…soon. But I’m not lying, you guys, some of the most delicious food I’ve eaten in my entire life was while we were on that trip. I think part of why that was kind of surprising to me was that most of this amazing food wasn’t on the west side of the island, which is where most of the tourists go–it was on the east side of the island, like in Hilo and in Pahoa, which is a tiny, sleepy, one-street town with a fabulous farmer’s market.
All food luck aside, I kind of tend to be really unlucky when I travel; in fact, my friend Jeni has gotten more than one middle of the night/obscenely early morning phone call when things have gone south. I’ve broken teeth more than once, I’ve had some seriously lost luggage, I found myself alone in a big, unfamiliar city when I was 8 months pregnant, I’ve had a kid in the PICU. So when we were in Hawaii and we saw this coming, heading straight for us…I just kind of laughed. And freaked out a tiny bit, because I’m Kate and that’s what I do. But it was just my luck.
The storm didn’t end up being too bad; we lost power for a few hours and I took that as a sign to take a nap. By the time we got power back and the storm had passed, we were stir-crazy and hungry and we headed over to Hilo to explore and see if anything was open for dinner. Which was how we stumbled into Cafe Pesto.
Turns out we weren’t the only ones who had that idea–it kind of felt like the movie theater on Christmas night when you’ve spent the day being lazy and gluttonous and then in a desperate attempt to not cause serious physical harm to the other members of your family on the day you’re supposed to be celebrating peace and love and the birth of baby Jesus, you go to a movie. Everyone was festive and happy to be out of harm’s way and out of their pajamas.
My husband ordered a pizza with Kalua pork and fresh pineapple that was to die for, but I think I liked mine even more–it was a Greek pizza. And I think about it all the time. It was maybe the best pizza I’d ever eaten, but that could have been the preceding hours worth of Golden Oreos talking.
When I got home, I decided I needed to replicate it. I definitely wanted to cook it on the grill to get that thin, crispy, smokey, fire-oven flavor. It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about grilled pizza, so if you need a refresher course, head over this way and check out how to do it. You need it.
First, you’re going to want to make some olive pesto. It might sound icky. It might sound weird. Eating it straight up might not be your alley, but on this pizza, it’s kind of amazing. Even my friend, a hater of olives, could not deny the deliciousness here. But if you trulytrulytruly hate olives (we’re talking like hate…like how I hate it when people spell “c” words with a “k”), just go with the regular pesto.
Place 1/2 cup of olives and 1/2 cup of pesto in a blender.
Pulse until the olives are very finely minced but are not totally smooth. Set aside.
To make the pizza, you’re going to need pizza dough, pizza sauce, pesto (either make your own or use the stuff in a jar or from the deli department), Kalamata olives, mozzarella cheese, feta cheese, red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, red onion, and fresh spinach.
Divide the pizza dough recipe into fourths and roll out each circle so it’s about 1/4″ thick. Prepare the grill according to the grilled pizza directions.
When the grill is hot, lightly brush the top of each circle with extra-virgin olive oil (I actually used garlic olive oil and it made things even better).
Place the oiled side of the dough down on the grill and grill according to the grilled pizza directions. After you flip the dough, spread a thin layer of pizza sauce, then a layer of the olive pesto. Top with peppers, onions, mozzarella cheese, and feta cheese. When the pizza is cooked through and the cheese is melted, remove from the grill (you can probably grill 2 pieces of dough at the same time with an average-sized grill). Repeat, if desired, with the remaining dough.
After you pull the pizzas off the grill, top with a handful or two of fresh baby spinach. Serve immediately. This will make 4 smallish pizzas–like 4 large personal-size pizzas, or you could split each pizza between 2 people and serve 8.Print
This fresh-from-the-grill pizza boasts a fun combo of Greek flavors that are sure to be a hit!
1 recipe pizza dough
1 recipe pizza sauce
Extra-virgin olive oil (garlic, if you can find it)
1/2 cup basil pesto (from the store or make your own)
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
Feta cheese, crumbled (about 4 ounces)
Prepare the grill according to the grilled pizza directions. Divide the dough into balls and roll them out about 1/4″ thick. Brush the tops of the dough with olive oil and place the dough, oiled side down, onto the hot grill. Once on the grill, brush the un-oiled side with olive oil. Cook the dough according to the grilled pizza directions. After you flip the crust, brush lightly with pizza sauce and then spread some of the olive pesto over the sauce. Top with the colored bell peppers, sliced red onions, mozzarella, and feta. When the pizza is cooked through and the cheese is melted, remove from the grill and top with the fresh baby spinach. Repeat with the remaining dough (you can probably cook 2 pizzas at once on an average-size grill). This makes 4 large personal-sized pizzas–you could serve 4 very hungry people, or cut each pizza in half and serve 8 people.
First, you need to preheat your grill. This is an important step. The rack needs to be nice and hot so the dough will start cooking immediately and the overall temperature needs to be hot in order to act like an oven when the lid is closed. I set my gas grill to medium-high heat and shut the lid.
Divide the dough into balls and roll them out about 1/4″ thick. Brush the tops of the dough with olive oil and place the dough, oiled side down, onto the hot grill and then shut the lid immediately. You’ll want the heat to stay inside so it acts like an oven and cooks the dough. The timing all depends on the heat of the grill and the thickness of the dough. But it usually only takes about 5 minutes or less. Have a spatula handy to lift up the dough and check it. You’ll want to see nice brown grill marks, but avoid burning it. If you can tell that your dough is cooking too fast and too hot, you may want to use indirect heat. For a gas grill with multiple burners, turn off the burner directly under the pizza, but leave the others on. For a charcoal grill, move the charcoal to one side of the grill and place the pizza on the other side.
These only need a few minutes–Check the bottom for nice grill marks and make sure it’s dry to the touch before flipping. Right before you flip it, brush a little olive oil on the uncooked side.
After you flip the crust, brush lightly with pizza sauce and then spread some of the olive pesto over the sauce. Top with the colored bell peppers, sliced red onions, mozzarella, and feta. When the pizza is cooked through and the cheese is melted, remove from the grill and top with the fresh baby spinach. Repeat with the remaining dough (you can probably cook 2 pizzas at once on an average-size grill). This makes 4 large personal-sized pizzas–you could serve 4 very hungry people, or cut each pizza in half and serve 8 people.
Keywords: Greek, pizza, grill