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Grilled Pesto Pizza Recipe

Grilled Pesto Pizza Recipe

One of the best arguments for a meat-based diet is the vegetarian cookout. Sure, tofu dogs and veggie burgers were a novelty at first. But eventually even the staunchest of abstainers longs for something with a little more substance and style. That's when I discovered grilled pizza. At first, it sounded like a gimmick, but desperation can drive a fellow to try just about anything. So I did, and our meatless cookouts have never been the same. Keep in mind that you're not going to get this perfect on the first try; your crust may get too dark or seem too bready. But I promise you this: you'll keep trying and refining your technique, because the smoky, wood-fired flavor of grilled pizza is unlike anything you've ever had.


  • Processor Pizza Dough, or this easy handmade dough, or 1 pound frozen bread dough
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade pesto
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella, sharp Cheddar, or Fontina cheese
  • 2 large tomatoes, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Pepper, to taste


  1. Prepare the dough and set it aside to rise. Punch it down and knead it briefly on a floured surface. (If you're using the frozen dough, thaw it for several hours in a plastic bag at room temperature.) Divide the dough in half, shaping each half into a ball. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Start your grill. If you are building a fire, bank the coals on one side, so one side is hotter than the other. Lightly oil a large baking sheet and set it aside.
  3. On a floured surface, roll each dough ball into a 9- to 10-inch circle no less than 1/4 inch thick. (If the dough tends to spring back, let it rest 5 more minutes before proceeding.) Lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the dough circles and transfer them to the baking sheet. Let them rest 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Using both hands, carefully set one of the dough circles over the hot side of the fire. (If you're not using banked coals, just set your grill to medium heat.) Grill for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes undisturbed, so the bottom has a chance to set - the top will bubble. Using a large spatula, flip over the dough and grill it for another 1 1/2 minutes on the hot side of the grill.
  5. Slide the crust onto the cooler side of the grill and immediately spread it with 2 tablespoons of pesto. Quickly top with 1 cup of the cheese, then cover generously with 1 sliced tomato. Continue to grill for 2 to 3 minutes in the cooler area, sliding the pizza around, if necessary, to brown the bottom evenly. (Don't let a little charring bother you.)
  6. Slide the pizza onto a platter and top with the chopped parsley and pepper. Repeat for the other dough circle, slicing and serving the first one as the second one grills. Makes 4 servings.