May 15, 2010 - 9:23 PM
We're pushing the bounds of this blog once again by entering into the realm of [self proclaimed] culinary excellence. The weather's getting nicer and with that it's time to fire up the grill. My friends and I were kicking around Saturday Market this afternoon, eating some tacos and contemplating our next meal, when I turned my head behind us to see a woman about to bite into a personal pizza from the Ninkasi tent. Thus, our dinner plan was hatched.
I quickly got my friends Jeff, Aaron, and Melissa on board with the dinner idea, and we compiled a mental ingredient list, grabbed a bundle of fresh basil from one of the farm's booths, and made our way out of the market. Our next stop was Trader Joe's where we picked up dough, cheese, and peanut sauce. We stopped by Melissa's house as well to pick some fresh cilantro from her garden, and we were ready to cook.
When it's sunny, it's simply understood at our house that grilling must take place. Luckily for us, the pizza idea was a terrific grilling option, and it was the first opportunity we've had to make grilled pizza since last summer. Pizza in the oven is good, but the flavor and crispy, semi-charred crust of grilled pizza is absolutely unparalleled. As the cursory ingredient list above may suggest, we settled on three different pizzas: a Thai chicken pizza, a barbeque chicken pizza, and a margarita pizza (with feta and sun dried tomatoes).
Jeff cooked the chicken while I chopped vegetables and spread the dough. For our first pizza we used Trader Joe's Garlic and Herb pizza dough (I highly recommend Trader Joe's pizza dough if you haven't tried it already-- it's inexpensive, easy, and very tasty) and baked it in the oven for about seven minutes to get it firm enough to put on the grill. We then brushed it with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled it with a variety of cheeses (mozzarella, asiago, Parmesan, feta, and provolone), and topped it with fresh tomatoes, basil, and sun dried tomatoes. We then threw the pizzas on the grill to cook while we assembled our other two pies.
For the other two pizzas, we got a little more creative by assembling a barbeque chicken pizza and a Thai chicken pizza. For the barbeque pizza, we spread barbeque sauce on a whole wheat crust and then topped it with cheese, red onion, chicken, and cilantro. For the Thai chicken pizza, we used a peanut sauce from Trader Joe's and topped it with mozzarella cheese, green onion, red onion, carrots, chicken, and basil.
The food turned out marvelously, and we enjoyed the pizza paired with our home brewed Marathon Blonde Ale (a blonde ale with Cascade Hops and a hint of grapefruit-- perfect for spring time). We sat out on the deck listening to the sweet sounds of Fleetwood Mac and birds chirping as the sun set. The meal encompassed all that I love about spring in Eugene: fresh ingredients either self-produced or bought locally, Saturday Market, beautiful weather, grilling, and hanging with friends. I couldn't ask for a better spring day in Eugene.