Monday, May 21, 2012

Pizza Party and Awesome Vinaigrette

Last week was one of those crazy weeks where I barely saw my husband because we were hanging out with people almost every night. It was a great week full of food and friends but we probably need a date night to recuperate. 

On one of the nights, I had plans to visit a friend for dinner with instructions to bring a salad. Sam made last minute plans to have some of his fellow teachers over. Not wanting a handful of "end-of-the-year/ why hasn't summer break started yet" friends to go hungry in my absence, i decided to make fixins for a make your own, grilled pizza party.

This type of party is so good! It is an easy and great solution to the "I want BBQ, but I am tired/or out of meat to grill" blues. Plus, for my fellow pizza-adorers, grilled pizza is the closest, homemade thing I have found to amazing thin crust, slightly charred brick oven pizza.

I'll start with the food for my evening with friends. I was asked to bring a salad. I had romaine and feta and was about to make a standard greek-ish salad when I remembered that I had a can of beets. Ughhh, the joy of salty-sweet in a salad! 

I tossed together a head of chopped romaine, a 1/2 cup of crumbled feta and the drained can of beets.

I then made a small container of my go-to vinaigrette. I always have the ingredients for this on hand and never buy salad dressing because nothing compares to the perfectly balanced flavors of this dressing. It is salty, sweet and acidic! Mmmm!

Awesome Vinaigrette
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 tsp brown sugar 
1 tsp mustard [I prefer dijon or brown mustard]
3 tbsps balsamic vinegar
3 tbsps olive oil
*1 clove of finely chopped garlic is also awesome in this but I didn't feel like chopping.

Throw all ingredients into a sealable container. I used an empty baby food jar but you can also use any small tupperware container.

Shake vigorously and serve.

One of my big pet peeves is wilted salad so, since I had to travel with the salad, I put the salad in a to-go bowl and brought the jar of dressing to use at dinner.

Meanwhile, in pizza paradise...

I made my go to pizza/pita dough [see my earlier post on tzatziki and homemade pitas], let it rise for an hour, pinched off balls of dough, roughly large enough to fit in the palm of your hand, rolled them out and lightly cooked them. I like to use my big ole griddle pan for this.
This is hands-down the most important part of grilling pizzas....make sure that you par-bake the crust. I once made the mistake of putting the dough directly onto the grill and it glooped through all of the grates and burned. You can always experiment with sturdier pizza doughs but the par-baking method works well for me.

Another sidenote...if you don't feel like making dough or manipulating store-bought dough, you can buy pitas. They are easy and the perfect size for individual pizzas.

Once you have individual crusts made, enter pantry/refrigerator buster paradise. Fill bowls with anything you have that might taste good on a pizza. My kitchen-busting yielded: a little bowl of feta, spinach, sliced onions, peppers and tomatoes, a medley of all the meltable cheeses that I had in my fridge, tomato sauce, some salami, and, of course, oregano, parm, garlic powder and chili flakes. Sam's buddies graciously picked up some marinated olives and roasted garlic. Yum!

 When Sam came home he fired up the coals and waited for the hungry teachers!

 Everyone had a blast picking their own ingredients and making their perfect pizzas!
Look how delish!
When you try this, cook long enough for the cheese to melt. By that point, your crust should be a little charred underneath. If using a gas grill, cook over medium heat. 

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