Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grilled Chicken and Pesto Pizza

Here is another recipe which showcaes the Whole Wheat Bread with Olive Oil recipe for from the book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg. The Pesto Pizza with Grilled Chicken on the Gas Grill.  Not only is it fun to be grilling outdoors on a nice, June day, but this recipe also tasted wonderful!

This was yet another reason why I'm so happy I planted lots of herbs in my garden and in containers this spring.  I was able to make the pesto for this recipe by walking outside and grabbing handfuls of fresh basil to make my pesto.  This year, I'm growing three different types of basil...mostly the usual large-leaved basilicum but also the new Pesto Perpetuo that I had read so much about earlier this year and also the petite Pistou basil.

The pesto recipe in the book calls for the typical pesto ingredients, fresh basil leaves, olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, Sald and Pepper and blended in a food processor into a sauce.  I used only 3/4 of the olive oil called for in the recipe and a little more Parm.  Chicken thighs are first grilled and then shredded or chopped.  I found boneless chicken thighs at my grocer which made them must easier to cut afterward.

The whole wheat olive oil dough is first patted and rolled out to the desired pizza dough thickness, about 1/8 inch. I used the back of a cookie sheet dusted with lots of flour to form my pizza so I could easily slide it onto the hot stone on the preheated 500 degree grill.  Doesn't that beautiful green pesto look wonderful?  I topped the pizza with even more freshly grated Parmesan.

Unfortunately, even the best preparations go awry.  When I tried sliding the pizza onto the hot stone, it still stuck to the cookie sheet.  Next time, I will use even more flour!  Even though it didn't slide off in a perfect circle, it still made it intact with the help of a very large spatula and the dough started bubbling up on the hot stone right away.

Another snafu was, even though the top of the pizza looked perfectly done,  I should have watched the bottom of the crust more carefully, because it burned in the center. Since this was the first time I have ever made pizza on the grill, it was a learning experience and now I feel ready to made the perfect grilled pizza next time! 

Nonetheless, this was a delicious-tasting pizza and crust and I will most certainly be making it again and again this summer!


100% White Whole Wheat Bread with Olive Oil

This is half of original recipe
Adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

3 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or use whole wheat flour)
3/4 T yeast (I used active dry yeast)
3/4 T fine sea salt (original recipe used kosher salt, which I didn't have. I increased the salt a little.)
2 T vital wheat gluten
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup olive oil

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer if you have one) mix together the flour, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten. Then, using the low speed of mixer with the paddle attachment (or a large spoon) mix in the olive oil and water, until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. (The book says use wet hands to mix in all the flour if necessary if you don't have a stand mixer.)

Cover the dough (not air tight) and let sit at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses or flattens out on top (about two hours.) Then you can use the dough right away, or for easier handling, refrigerate for a few hours or as long as ten days.

To prepare dough to bake, sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour, then remove a grapefruit sized piece of dough. Sprinkle with flour again, shape the dough into a ball by folding the sides under and stretching the top to a smooth surface. You can leave it as a ball or make more of a loaf shape like I did. Put dough on a pizza peel, parchment paper, or cookie sheet to rest. (I was supposed to cover it loosely, but I missed that part of the instructions!)

To bake the bread you need a pizza stone or baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat, plus another metal baking dish to pour the water used to make steam. (The steam crisps the surface of the bread. You can put the metal dish anywhere that it won't interfere with the bread rising, and in a regular oven I'd put it on a rack under the bread.) The dough needs to rest for 90 minutes, but after 60 minutes, begin preheating the oven to 450F/230C (and heat pizza stone if you have one. I didn't have one so I heated the baking sheet.)

After dough has rested for almost 90 minutes, use a pastry brush to brush the surface with water, then using a serrated knife, cut parallel slashes into the surface of the bread. Then slide the bread (and parchment paper if using) on to the hot pizza stone or baking sheet, and immediately pour 1 cup hot water into the other baking dish and shut the oven door. (My baking dish would only hold 3/4 cup water, but it seemed to work.) Bake bread for 30-35 minutes, or until firm and nicely browned. If you're baking on parchment paper or silicone mat, remove them after 20 minutes so the bottom of the bread will brown. (I baked the loaf in the photos for exactly 30 minutes and it was perfectly done and even a tiny bit overly brown.)

To Make the Pesto and Chicken Pizza

4 Garlic Cloves
2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 ounces grated parmigiana cheese
1 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 or 4 chicken thighs, brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper

Process the garlic, basil leaves, pine nuts, cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor until a paste is formed.

On a preheated grill, grill the chicken thighs until cooked through.  Allow to cool and shred the meat, discarding the bones.

Place a pizza stone on the grill and allow to heat to about 500 degrees.  

Remove a grapefruit size portion of the refrigerated whole wheat dough recipe above. Directly on a pizza peel dusted with flour or on a piece of floured parchment paper over a flat baking sheet, dust with additional flour and press or roll into a 1/8 inch thick round, making sure there is enough flour to easily slide the pizza off.  

Thinly coat the dough with the pesto and then spread the chicken pieces over that. 

Slide the pizza directly onto the heated pizza stone on the grill - you may need a few shakes or a bench scraper to help remove the pizza.

Check the pizza in 3 minute increments to check for doneness, rotating the pizza, if necessary with a large spatula.  Keep the lid closed whenever possible.  The whole grilling time will be 10 minutes or less. 

Remove from the grill, slice and enjoy!


  1. I think I need to get this book! I love the idea of the whole wheat crust. I am really loving chicken pizza too... a lighter alternative to sausage. Thanks for the tips... I have never used a stone on the grill just put the pie right on the cast iron surface... I just love the taste of the smoke on the crust. Great recipe.. no wonder you want to stay outside in this lovely weather!

  2. That is suppose to be my kind of "food" - long day. :)

  3. Oooh Susan, your pictures are delectable! I've always wanted an outdoor pizza oven but I guess I'll break down and try the grill- much easier on the budget!
    xoxo Pattie

  4. Everything you have made from this book has looked so good! I have lots of basil in the garden so I'll have to try it later this summer :)

    Wonderful photos as always!

  5. I just did NOT have time to make this but I wish I did! I'll have to get to it eventually, by hook or by crook. I love the toppings!

  6. Your pizza looks terrific. I always use parchment paper to keep it from sticking, even on the grill (See my post). How do you like the Pesto Perpetuo?

  7. Your pizza looks great! I didn't have time to make this, but I hope to get around to it soon :)

  8. I've tried cooking pizza on the grill but I have a ways to go in perfecting that technique. I always manage to burn the crust before the cheese melts. I love being able to step outside my kitchen door and pick herbs for a recipe. Your pizza looks so yummy, Susan.

  9. The pesto pizza looks delicious - I've never tried grilling pizza so I appreciated your comments on the do's and dont's! Didn;t realize there were so many types of keep learning!!
    Great post!

  10. I've never had pesto on pizza, great idea!

  11. I made grilled pizza once years ago and had a similar experience. I am ready to try again. Love anything with pesto. This looks yummy.

  12. I hear so much about HBin5 (and follow a lot of you who take part) that I guess I ought to put this on my wish list!

    You combined some delicious flavors for you pizza, Susan. And practice makes perfect on your baking! I certainly couldn't see a single thing wrong with your pizza, so it must have been hidden underneath. (I have to cover errors all the time and isn't it amazing how many times it involves getting some into or out of the pan?)

  13. It looked like a delicious learning experience. I have not made Pizza on the grill this year because last year it turned into a total fiasco for me and we ended up eating sandwiches for dinner.

  14. Your photos always make my mouth water. What could be better than fresh pesto..yum.

  15. Your blog is visually stunning, I just want to reach in and EAT your yummy food!

  16. My herbs got a bit out of control while I was gone. A few drastic snips and they will be back in no time!
    I made some basil sale' with my overgrown basil, pesto is next!

  17. Looks delicious! LOL, even with sticking, yours looks professional :) I took some pictures of my herbs, too, this morning! Finally have a nice container full and some sun! Your herbs are gorgeous, great shots!

  18. I would love this pizza because of my inordinate fondness for both chicken and pesto! I agree with you on the learning curve when I first made pita bread on the grill all was not so smooth and I started turning off one side of the grill and placing the bread on the side that was partially turned off to avoid burning spots.

  19. Thank you all for your kind comments! Old Pop, I'm sorry, haven't tried the Pesto Perpetuo yet. It sure is pretty though :) I think I try it tonight on some tomatoes to see how it tastes.

  20. Susan, you have made some great dough from this book. I am enjoying basil in my garden as well, and don't want to think of not being able to pick herbs from the garden in winter.

  21. Look at all the variety of basil you grow!
    The pizza looks delicious! I use cornmeal on the stone, it helps with the sticking problem.

  22. that is a gorgeous pizza!!! I didn't get a chance to grill mine (laker night and all) but I did have the first pizza stick and then get all deformed too! LOL

  23. Great photos bet it tasted good too.

  24. Your photos are beautiful, the pizza looks great, and I loved the photos of your different varieties of basil.

  25. I am wondering how you liked the new varieties of basil. I have never heard of basil perpetou ? I love to make pesto and am always interested in new varieties. Your pizza looks absolutely wonderful. Perfect!

  26. I am wondering how you liked the new varieties of basil. I have never heard of basil perpetou ? I love to make pesto and am always interested in new varieties. Your pizza looks absolutely wonderful. Perfect!


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