The Ultimate Summer Pizza

published Jun 29, 2021
Outdoor Pizza Party
The Ultimate Summer Pizza

All your favorite summer veggies are piled onto crisp grilled pizza dough that's brushed with garlic-herb oil.

Serves4 to 6

Prep25 minutes

Cook10 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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pizza on a pizza platter unlsiced
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

This piece is part of our Outdoor Pizza Party series. Read all of the stories — including a test drive and plenty of recipes — here.

To be honest, I rarely order vegetarian pizzas. They’re usually topped with raw, unseasoned mushrooms, olives, bell peppers, and onions, making for a bland pie that simply can’t compete with pepperoni. But I do make an exception for pizza from The Cheeseboard Collective, a quirky, legendary spot in Berkeley that makes only one kind of vegetarian pizza per day. With interesting seasonal veggie combinations (like artichoke-ricotta-spinach or cabbage-walnut-blue cheese) and a sourdough crust, I would happily eat there every day, and it was my inspiration for making a veggie-packed ‘za that sings of summer and eating outdoors.

This ultimate summer pizza has it all: a crunchy crust, loads of flavorful veggies, melty cheese, and fragrant herbs and garlic. It’s bright and colorful, and will make you forget all the underwhelming veggie pizzas of your past. Here, I’ll show you how to bring it to life, whether you’re cooking it in a pizza oven, on the grill, or in your regular oven.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Herby Garlic Oil Is the Flavor Bomb Your Pizza Needs

At Cheeseboard, the veggie pizzas rarely have tomato sauce but are finished with a garlicky, herby oil instead, so that’s what I did here. Omitting the tomato sauce really lets the flavors of the vegetables shine through, and the garlic oil adds just the right amount of seasoning to keep things from being bland. I went with an easy combination that’s reminiscent of pesto: olive oil, minced garlic, fresh basil, and some red pepper flakes, if you like heat. The herby oil does triple duty: It gets brushed onto the dough, tossed with the veggies, and brushed on top of the finished pizza.

The Best Veggies for Pizza

As for the veggies, I like the summery combination of corn kernels, quick-cooking zucchini ribbons, slivered red onion, and juicy cherry tomatoes. It’s a colorful combination with lots of textures, and the tomatoes add some brightness that you usually get from a tomato sauce pie. The key is to toss the veggies with some of the garlic oil so that they’re well-seasoned before topping the pizza. I top the dough with mozz first to help the veggie stick to the pizza, then load on the produce, followed by crumbled feta for its salty, tangy bite.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

What’s the Best Pizza Dough for Grilling?

Kitchn put a lot of energy into developing a pizza dough that’s easy to work with and grills up nicely, and it’s a great dough that’s worth making for this pizza (no matter how you end up cooking it). If you’re looking for a shortcut, call your local bakery or pizza joint and ask if they’ll sell you some of their dough, which tends to be better than what’s sold at grocery stores. Whatever route you choose, make sure to plan ahead for the dough to warm up to room temperature so that it’s easier to shape.

This recipe makes two pizzas, but how many people it feeds depends on how much dough you start out with. If you start with 1 1/4 pounds of dough (which is how much Kitchn’s recipe yields), you’ll feed six, but if you start out with 1 pound (the amount typically sold in stores), you’ll feed four. When you stretch out the dough, it doesn’t have to be perfectly round, so don’t stress out too much about that part.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

3 Ways to Cook Your Summer Pizza

  1. In the pizza oven: This is the fastest method! Assemble the whole pizza, then bake at 800ºF until the bottom is charred in spots and the cheese on top is melted — just 2 to 3 minutes total.
  2. In the regular oven: Heat an upside-down baking sheet or pizza stone in a 450ºF oven. Assemble the pizzas on parchment paper, then slide onto the hot stone or baking sheet and bake one at a time.
  3. On the grill: Start by grilling one side of the dough rounds over high heat, then take the crusts off the grill. Top the grilled side of the dough with the oil, cheese, and veggies, then slide the pizzas back onto the grill to crisp up the second side and melt the mozzarella.

    No matter which route you take, brush the baked pizzas with the remaining oil, sprinkle with torn basil leaves, slice, and serve.

The Ultimate Summer Pizza

All your favorite summer veggies are piled onto crisp grilled pizza dough that's brushed with garlic-herb oil.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2 recipe

    Pizza Dough for Grilling (split into 2 pieces for rising), or 1 to 1 1/4 pounds store-bought pizza dough

  • 8 ounces

    low-moisture whole or skim-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

  • 4 ounces

    feta cheese

  • 1 handful

    fresh basil sprigs

  • 1 large clove

    garlic

  • 1/3 cup

    olive oil, plus more for the grill grates

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1/4

    medium red onion

  • 1 cup

    grape or cherry tomatoes (5 to 6 ounces)

  • 1 ear

    fresh corn (about 12 ounces), or 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels

  • 1

    small yellow summer squash or zucchini (5 to 6 ounces)

  • All-purpose flour, for dusting

Instructions

  1. If using store-bought pizza dough, divide into two pieces. If the dough is cold, let sit at room temperature at least 2 hours before proceeding. The dough is ready when it does not bounce back when stretched.

  2. Heat an outdoor grill for direct, high heat (about 500ºF). Meanwhile, prepare the toppings and garlic-herb oil.

  3. Grate 8 ounces mozzarella cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups). Crumble 4 ounces feta cheese (about 1 cup).

  4. Pick 8 fresh basil leaves and set aside for garnish. Finely chop more basil leaves until you have 1 tablespoon and place in a small bowl. Finely chop 1 large garlic clove. Add the garlic, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes if desired to the bowl and stir to combine.

  5. Prepare the following, placing them all in a medium bowl: Thinly slice 1/4 medium red onion until you have about 1/2 packed cup. Halve (or quarter if large) 1 cup grape tomatoes. Cut the kernels from 1 ear corn (3/4 to 1 cup) or use 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly shave 1 small summer squash lengthwise into wide ribbons until you have 1 packed cup.

  6. Add 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil to the vegetables, season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and toss to combine.

  7. When the grill is ready, scrape the grill grates clean if needed. Stretch or roll out each portion of dough on a lightly floured work surface into a rough 11 to 12-inch round.

  8. Par-grill the crusts: Oil the grill grates with a paper towel dipped in olive oil. Place one crust on the grill, cover, and cook until grill marks form on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Transfer grill mark side up onto a baking sheet or cutting board. Par-grill the second crust.

  9. Brush 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil onto each crust, going all the way to the edges. Sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella. Arrange the vegetables over the mozzarella in an even layer, leaving any liquid in the bowl behind. Sprinkle with the feta.

  10. Slide one pizza onto the grill, cover, and grill until the cheese is melted and the bottom is crisp and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and repeat grilling the second pizza. Gently brush with the remaining garlic oil, then tear the reserved basil leaves into bite-sized pieces and scatter over the top. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Pizza oven instructions: For a pizza oven, brush each dough round with 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil, then top with the mozzarella, vegetables, and feta. Bake in a 800ºF pizza oven until the bottom is charred in a few spots and the cheese on top is melted (you may have to turn the heat down if the crust is charring too quickly), rotating a few times for even cooking, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes total. Gently brush with the remaining garlic oil and top with torn basil leaves.

Regular oven instructions: For a regular oven, place an upside-down baking sheet or pizza stone on the middle rack and heat the oven to 450ºF. Stretch the dough rounds out on individual sheets of parchment paper. Brush each dough round with 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil, then top with the mozzarella, vegetables, and feta. Bake one at a time: Slide, still on the parchment, onto the hot baking sheet or stone. Bake until the edges are golden-brown and the cheese on top is melted, 10 to 12 minutes. Gently brush with the remaining garlic oil and top with torn basil leaves.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.