A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing the New Books aisle at my local library when my eyes caught a book called Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas. First of all, the idea of grilling pizzas seemed a bit unusual to me! and what’s a piadina?! I wasn’t sure but I definitely wanted to find out!
As I dug in, I learned all about a specific subset of pizzas that the author, Chef Craig Priebe, was talking about - those baked on the grill. The book shows how passionate he is about his pizza and that grilling pizza on a grill (indoor or outdoor) is truly an art! The first chapter is on grilling gear and then the book moves on to steps for making the crust. Great cookbooks, like this one, are all about technique; you can play with the ingredients and create your own toppings! For those of you who prefer a step-by-step approach, there are a variety of specific recipes as well.
For me, the beauty of this book lies less in those specific recipes and more in the grilling technique. I found it to be a truly inspirational cookbook that taught me to create a unique and innovative pizza; wanna see how my pizza and piadina turned out?!
Grilled Pizza with Roasted Garlic, Sausage, Onions, Mushrooms and Cherry Tomatoes
(Indoor Grilling Method using a Cast-iron Skillet)
Chef Craig Priebe, in his first cookbook, Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas, gives his innovative take on the world’s favorite food – pizza. Most of his pizza creations call for familiar ingredients in unexpectedly surprising combinations! But the bottom line is that by grilling the pizza base you don’t get the melted cheese on top like the “regular” pizza. Instead, Chef Priebe focuses on the earthy, lightly charred curst of the pie and plays with the fresh toppings.
The book even includes a basic pizza dough recipe but if you are in a rush (like I am most of the times!), Priebe recommends store-bought fresh or refrigerated Pillsbury Pizza Dough for the crust. So with this for the base, I created a white pizza sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and topped with sautéed chicken sausage, mushrooms, onions, roasted garlic, cherry tomatoes, and basil confetti. Give it a try and you’ll fall in love with pizza all over again!
Makes 4 personal pizzas
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + for Herbed Grill Oil
4-5 garlic cloves, smashed and skinned
2 fully cooked chicken sausages, diced
6-8 button mushrooms, sliced
1 small yellow onion, sliced
freshly ground black pepper
8-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
5-6 basil leaves, julienned
Parmesan cheese, grated and shaved
1 pack of Pillsbury Pizza Dough
Making the topping
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and dry roast the garlic cloves till they turn light brown in color. There is no need to add oil since the natural oil released by the cloves is enough for the roasting process. Remove the garlic and set aside.
In the same pan, heat a tbsp of olive oil and sauté sausage till it turns light brown. Remove the sausage and set aside.
Add the remaining tbsp of olive oil and sauté onions and mushrooms till they turn light brown in color. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Assembling the Pizza
Wipe the pan with a paper towel moistened with olive oil. Preheat the pan over medium-high heat for 5 mins.
Open the dough packet and spread open the dough on a lightly floured surface. Depending on the size of the grill pan cut the sheet of dough into smaller squares, so that they fit on the grill pan. Pick up the piece of dough with both hands and lay it in the hot pan. The crust should bubble on top within a min. If not, turn the heat up a little.
After 2 mins, check the crust by lifting an edge with your tongs. When bottom turns brown, remove it to the cookie sheet. 4. Turn the crust over and brush it with Herbed Grill Oil.
Preheat your broiler.
Sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese, followed by about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Sargento Italian cheese mix. Spread the sausage, mushrooms and onions along with halved cherry tomatoes evenly over the base and garnish with basil and roasted garlic.
Reheat the grilling pan for about a min. Slide the pizza back into it and brown the bottom until crispy, 3-5 mins.
When the bottom is golden brown and crispy with grill marks, transfer the pizza onto a cookie sheet and place it under the broiler for about a min until the top is sizzling hot.
Transfer the pizza to a plate. Garnish with julienned basil and Parmesan shavings. Serve immediately.
Piadina with Carmelized Onions, Goat Cheese, Arugula and Roasted Red Peppers
After the grilled pizzas, the author moves on to a mouth-watering section of grilled piadinas in the cookbook. Piadina is a popular Italian flatbread sandwich that can be filled with almost anything! Traditionally, piadina dough is unleavened but Chef Priebe shares his secret with the readers . Piadinas using pizza dough! He says that if it’s made this way, it will be a thicker and a slightly softer version of the traditional unleavened flatbread, but will have the same look and feel! The book suggests a regular store-bought pizza dough, but I used the Pillsbury thin crust pizza dough and rolled it to make it even thinner than usual.
So with the cookbook as my userguide and a semi-homemade shortcut, I created my very own piadina with carmelized onions, goat cheese, peppery arugula and sweet roasted red peppers. Go ahead, take a bite!
Makes 2 piadinas
herbed/plain goat cheese
2 jarred roast red peppers, diced
handful of arugula leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp sugar
garlic salt/reg salt
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 pack Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough
Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet on medium heat and add onions along with sugar and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until they turn light brown, for about 15-20 mins. Reduce the heat to low and splash with balsamic vinegar. Cook for a couple mins till the vinegar vaporizes.Remove from heat and let it cool down a little bit.
Preparing the Flatbread
Preheat a flat griddle over medium-high heat for 5 mins.
Break open the packet of readymade dough and roll to make it even thinner, about 3-4 mm of thickness. Depending on the size of the griddle, cut the sheet of dough into smaller pieces.
Lay the rolled dough on the hot pan and cook for about a min or so, till bubbles form on the surface.
With a pair of tongs, check the bottom side to make sure it is golden brown and flip to grill the other side.
Cook for about a min until golden brown and remove from the pan.
Stack the cooked breads on a paper towel and wrap them so they stay warm.
Assembling the Piadina
Spread the flatbread evenly with goat cheese and carmelized onions. Top it with arugula and diced roasted peppers. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Fold the bread over to secure the filling and serve along the side of chips and a drink.