April 23, 2014
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Photo by Judith Hausman

Our first barbecue of the season was a joint effort. My hosts offered beautiful burgers, and I made the pizza. While the fire was getting hot enough for the burgers, we maneuvered the stretched and lightly-oiled dough onto the grill first (it took 3 of us to do so!), quickly covered it with prepped toppings and cheese, and then put the grill cover on. In 10 minutes, we had a good char on the bottom and gooey cheese on top. While the burgers sizzled, we feasted. If you want to serve the two at the same time, push the pizza over to the cooler side of the grill as soon as it’s firm enough to move.

Everyone has a favorite pizza topping, and this novel combo is one of mine. It transitions out of the season of citrus into the season of greens and onions. There’s time enough later in the season for tomato pizzas; the flavorful smoked mozzarella pulls this one together and is somehow the perfect match for the lemon slices. If the lemon and the cheese can be room temperature, it helps them to cook at the same rate as the dough, thus avoiding a mushy center or an overcooked bottom. Slice the lemon very, very thinly too. Sometimes, I use a little preserved lemon, as well, and arugula or young broccoli di rabe instead of the spinach on this pizza.

Servings: 2 to 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 portion refrigerator case whole wheat pizza dough or homemade dough enough for one pizza
  • 1/2 large lemon, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 small, sweet or red onion
  • 1 small ball of smoked mozzarella, sliced
  • about 1 cup of baby spinach leaves
  • olive oil 
PREPARATION

Start the grill or coals (or preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit). Have all the ingredients ready to go before the coals are super-hot. Spread out the dough but not too thinly; otherwise, it will be hard to transfer to the grill. Brush both sides with a little olive oil and then place the dough on the grill, stretching it a little more. Don’t get burned! Immediately cover the dough with onions, lemon slices, spinach and finally, the cheese slices. You can drizzle on a little more olive oil, too. Cover the grill, and cook until the cheese is melty and the bottom is firm, about 10 to 12 minutes. Finish with a few grinds of red pepper flakes.

If you bake the pizza in the oven instead, stretch the dough on a stone or baking sheet, and put on all the toppings before placing it in the hot oven. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the bottom has browned and the cheese is melty.

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