Friday, July 11, 2008

All things grilled...

I can't pinpoint when the urge struck me... but it has been lingering there for a while now. It might have been due to David Lebovitz' recent post about eating pesto every day... or it might have been because it was the focus of Williams-Sonoma's latest catalogue, or it could just be that it is summer! I was dying to make Mediterranean food! Pesto, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, I was ready for all of it. I just needed to get some good basil and I would be ready to go. For me, that always means Trader Joes! So I headed there on my lunch break yesterday, and to my dismay, no basil. They had big plants of it in front, but the plant wasn't going to stand a chance. I found some wild arugula, and changed my course. Upon leaving, the friendly checkout guy asked me if I had found everything I was looking for- which I told him, yes, but then commented on the no basil issue. Well, turns out it had been right there under my nose the whole time! Now I had both arugula and basil. This was going to be some pesto!

Arugula and Basil washed and ready to go. I think there is probably about 2 tightly packed cups here, maybe a little bit more. You can use whatever ratio you have on hand or prefer, mine was a little more arugula than basil.

Everything into the food processor! I also minced a clove of garlic, but you can use 2 if you are brave. A little under 1 tsp of kosher salt, and some lemon zest on top. (The lemon zest is not traditional, but I like it.) Also grind some fresh black pepper over the top.
Puree until you have finely chopped the greens. You might have to scrape down the sides a couple times, but this should go quickly. The classic addition to pesto is the pine nuts. Very Mediterranean, smooth flavor, grinds to the perfect texture. I was out. Never fear, there are a lot of good substitutes. Walnuts are beautiful with the arugula, but I didn't have those either. I opted for shelled raw pistachios instead of almonds. Upped the green factor too! (Probably about 1/4-1/3 of a cup)
A little parmesan or romano cheese shredded, about a half cup.
Process until the nuts are ground, then drizzle olive oil with the machine running until it all comes together into a beautiful bright green sauce.
While I was making my pesto, I let some chicken breasts and zucchini grill. Before:

After:Okay, so here is the twist. Thursdays have basically become an unofficial pizza night in our house. To blend the pizza with the grilling and mediteranean flavors, I decided to make grilled pizza. I know. Sounds crazy. But I have heard it can be done! I took my regular pizza dough and divided it into two balls. I had let this rise in the fridge (straight from kneading to the fridge on Wednesday night). So it had been in there for about 20 hours or so. No 150 degree oven for these babies. I wanted the dough a little more raw. If you are having trouble getting it to roll out, walk away from it for a minute or two. It will be happier once it rests a bit. Once rolled out, a sprayed it with a generous spray of olive oil, a dash of kosher salt and straight onto the grill.
It cooked fast! Cook one side, (about 5 minutes or so) then top it and cook the other side. However, after doing this, I don't think I would try cooking the toppings on the grill. It was a pain. I would do the dough, but then cook the toppings under the broiler. Which is what we ended up doing after realizing that the crust cooked way too fast to melt the cheese. It did add a really good flavor to the pizza though...

Topped and ready to go on the grill. I used the grilled zucchini, chicken, tomatoes, mozzerella, and romano shavings.Not to be left out, I also decided to try grilling romaine. A little olive oil, salt and pepper was all that went on these.I served it with more shredded romano cheese and grilled plums. It was an interesting flavor. It was a good twist on a normal romaine salad. The finale: The pizza was great, thanks to my fabulous pesto. I can't begin to tell you how good that stuff is, you have to try making it yourself! So yummy.
Edited to add: So the toppings came to work with me today as a salad, and can I just say... there is nothing quite a fabulous the next day as grilled zucchini. Especially with a little vinaigrette and goat cheese. Seriously, it is sooo good! I have a good recipe for a salad with the two, I should post that sometime soon...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You just have to say, "Yummmmm."