We were in Steamboat Springs for a long weekend this summer. This recipe was inspired by lunch we had at a little market up near the ski mountain that professed to have great pizzas. I admit, I may have rolled my eyes, and ordered a spinach salad (mainly for the blue cheese, and also because I really hate being disappointed when it comes to pizza). But Dave and my girls chose pizza, and when it was pulled hot from the oven and brought to our table outside on the patio, I had lunch-envy. It’s lucky I have a generous husband who shared his pizza with me. It was a delicious combination of sweet and savory — with honey and cracked black pepper being the ingredients that really pull it all together. I took a couple quick notes on my phone, and determined I would make this once pears were more in season and tweak it a bit more to my taste.
This past week, my (rockstar) women’s tennis team had our end-of-season party. It’s just another excuse to get together with an amazing group of women who love to live and love to laugh. We all bring food and wine (or other spirits which shall remain unnamed), and enjoy an evening together. I knew this pizza would be a crowd pleaser — there’s so much to love with all of these great ingredients. So even though I had a CRAZY day of back-to-school events for my girls, I was going to make this pizza if it was the last thing I did. The photo shoot took no more than 90 seconds before I whisked the pizza out the door like an insane artist to the questioning looks of my babysitter. I arrived to the party (40 minutes late) in a torrential downpour, balancing umbrella and a giant board with pizza which was quickly (and not-so-selflessly) rescued by my sweet friend, Tressa. But what is a little rain when there are great friends, a glass of rosé, and this pizza to enjoy?
Grilled Pear & Prosciutto Pizza with Gorgonzola, Spinach and Walnuts
recipe by Stephanie Kunstle
Note: if you don’t have a grill handy, just oil a large baking sheet with olive oil and scattered with polenta, and press your dough onto this, top with all ingredients, and bake at 425ºF for 12-15 minutes. The spinach will be much more cooked, but will still be delicious.
Ingredients for pizza dough:
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- semolina or raw polenta for scattering
- You will need a large piece of foil to put the dough on
Toppings for pizza:
- 3-4 ounces gorgonzola dolce, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 5 large slices prosciutto, stacked and then cut into thin strips
- 2 ripe Bosc pears, cored and thinly sliced
- small handful of fresh spinach leaves
- close to 3/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
- extra virgin olive oil
- raw unfiltered honey (if you are in CO, my favorite is Ambrosia Honey Co., from Parachute, Colorado)
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Fire up that grill… I start with high heat to get it nice and hot.
- While you are heating your grill, in a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment, combine warm water with yeast, and whisk to dissolve the yeast.
- Add the olive oil, sugar, salt, and flour, and mix with the dough hook until the dough is very smooth and elastic… It should be ever so slightly sticky and very pliable. Swirl a little extra virgin olive oil around the bowl and roll your dough around in it to coat the outer surfaces. Quick tip: when you are measuring flour, always scoop it into the measuring cup with a large spoon, and then use a knife to level it off. No packing in the flour or you will use too much and end up with a dough that’s dry and hard to work with. If you find your dough is too wet, just add more flour, one tablespoon at a time and let the mixer really work it in… Give that gluten a little time to do it’s thing.
- Tear off a large piece of foil, about 24 inches long, and use olive oil to lightly oil the face-up side of your foil. Scatter with semolina or raw polenta (this helps the dough not to stick and adds a nice rustic texture).
- On a clean surface, press out the dough with your hands into a large rectangle. Using your hands or a rolling pin, continue to stretch and/or roll the dough into a big rectangle and gently lift onto prepared foil, using your hands to press it into its final shape (about 12″ x 15″ rectangle).
- Drizzle the surface with a little extra virgin olive oil and rub it all over to cover the dough, this will prevent it from sticking to the grill.
- Slide the foil onto a large baking sheet and carry it out to your grill. Turn flames to medium-high heat, and with lots of gusto and some finesse, lift your foil above the grill and quickly invert it onto the grill, peeling the foil off the bottom of the pizza dough from a corner nearest to you at a 45 degree angle to avoid tearing any holes into the dough (discard foil). Once foil is removed, close the grill and time the dough for about 60 seconds. It will immediately begin to bubble and cook. Using a large spatula, flip the dough and grill for another minute. Slide dough from grill onto the baking sheet. Turn the grill heat down to medium-low.
- Rub your semi-cooked pizza dough with extra virgin olive oil (yes, again), and then scatter it with the gorgonzola dolce. Layer the prosciutto strips over and around the cheese, then fill in space with pear slices. Scatter spinach leaves, scatter the chopped walnuts, and then generously drizzle the entire pizza with honey and cracked black pepper.
- Carefully slide the pizza back onto the grill (which should be on med-low heat now), close the lid and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Feel free to peek on it with a grill spatula and check to make sure it’s not burning underneath (everyone’s grill is different, so be attentive). Then turn the grill off and give it another couple of minutes to let the spinach further wilt.
- Slide the pizza back onto your baking sheet, and then onto a large cutting board or serving platter. Slice and serve hot or at room temperature, preferably with a glass or rosé. Enjoy!