This pizza was the last thing to come out of my oven since the heat wave started this past weekend. A family ordinance was put in place, outlawing oven use and encouraging alternative forms of energy consumption, such as the grill and minimal use of the stovetop. It’s been rough. This is not to say that we haven’t had delicious food—Sunday night my dad and I made fusilli with grilled onions, cremini mushrooms, and a grilled garlic and lemon vinaigrette. Still, not being able to turn on the oven on a moment’s notice has stifled my creative juices (at least that’s what I’ve been saying in attempts to get a lift on the oven ban).
Anyways, back to the pizza! It uses the traditional Italian pairing of cheese, honey, and black pepper, along with sweet grapes and olive oil. The toppings are used judiciously, so the crust stays crisp and light, especially when baked on a hot pizza stone.
Within a few short minutes in the oven, the grapes swell and then release their juices, so that when you bite into a hot grape, it has slumped in on itself and the concentrated flavor is sweeter than normal. Black pepper adds heat to counteract the sweetness of the grapes and the honey. It’s the perfect appetizer for a summer meal or barbeque, provided, of course, that you can turn on your oven.
Grape and Ricotta Pizza
Makes 2, 12-inch pizzas, serving 8-10 as a first course
¾ cup warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal, for dusting the pizza peel
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
½ cup part skim ricotta
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- For the dough: Mix the water, yeast, sugar, and oil in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let the yeast proof until bubbly for 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and knead until smooth and shiny, 6-8 minutes. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, 45-60 minutes.
- While the dough rises, move the oven rack to the upper-middle position and place a baking stone on the rack. Preheat the oven to 500F for 30 minutes.
- Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and divide into 2 pieces. Roll one piece out to a 12 inch circle. Transfer it to a pizza peel brushed with cornmeal. Dollop ¼ cup ricotta in small pieces all over the dough, then cover with 1 cup of the grapes, cut side down. Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with 1 teaspoon each olive oil and honey. Slide the pizza onto the baking stone and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Slice and serve. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make the second pizza.