pizza with grilled aubergine, basil pesto and goats cheese

pizza with grilled aubergine, goats cheese and pesto

I have been searching for the perfect pizza dough recipe for a while now, and to date have been left a little disappointed. Some recipes were ok, and others – one by an international celebrity chef –  failed miserably despite me following ever single instruction. I wanted one that is my go-to every time recipe, and one which kind of gives me a pizza restaurant taste and texture. Yes, I want the real deal.

My other big mission was to master the skill of turning my Big Green Egg into a super hot pizza oven which I had read it could be. After a couple of attempts, I hadn’t managed to achieve this either. So feeling like I was not prepared to fail again, I did two things.

First I contact the people at Big Green egg to troubleshoot my problems and it seems I was using the wrong kind of charcoal. You need a really good quality lump-wood charcoal and they sent me a 10kg bag to use in my test.

Secondly, I brought in my friend Fritz Brand from Real Men Can Cook to come and ensure that I get the fire started correctly. If there is any person in the world that can get a fire started brilliantly it is Fritz.Fire making skills are part of his DNA.

I am thrilled to report back on a huge success. Not only did Fritz light the fire perfectly, he managed to get the temperature up to over its Max on the Egg right off the bat. I mean this is over 400 C and 750 F. It got so hot, we actually starting to think we had gone too far.

Big Green Egg

I made 2 different pizza dough recipes, both the day before, and despite being fairly different in terms of quantity of yeast, both rose to the occasion and delivered delicious tasting crispy and puffy pizza crusts.

In searching for these recipes I typedbest ever pizza dough into Google and the first one I got was on 101 cookbooks. I loved the look and sound of this pizza base. Super authentic, fairly straightforward in terms of ingredients, and I loved how you use a machine to make it. I followed this exactly, used my paddle and dough hook and kept the balls in my fridge over night. I took them out a couple of house before making the pizza and the dough rose up to perfection. I found the taste a little better than the second recipe (which Fritz preferred), but either or are great.

The second recipe is for a New York Style pizza dough and requires about 10 minutes of kneading by hand. If you have ever got into making bread, you may find like I do, that the kneading can be amazingly therapeutic. I set the timer on my fridge and when the 10 minutes was up, I was so in the groove, I wanted to carry on for longer. I definitely need to make more bread in the future.

We made a variety of pizza flavours for my big test day, all the standard toppings that I like, but I also made this delicious vegetarian one, with grilled aubergine, basil pesto and goats cheese.

Pre grill slices of aubergine which you have brushed with oil on a griddle pan and set aside. When you get the assembly stage, spread a layer of basil pesto over the base. Either make your own or use a good quality bought one like Pesto Princess. Spread a layer of tomato sauce on top of that. I like to make a very basic sauce with onions, tomatoes, garlic and seasoning, which I cook for a while until it thickens. You can also just use really good quality tinned tomato or tomato pasata. Top that with grated mozzarella, the slices of aubergine and then dot over pieces of creamy goats cheese. Quantities all depend on the size of your pizza and personal preference, so you don’t need a recipe here.

Turn the Big Green egg into the pizza making out-door oven that it is, and bake for a few minutes until puffed up, crispy on the underside and the cheese is bubbling (about 4 – 5 minutes). If you are doing this on an indoor oven – you want to get it to the maximum temp you can.

You also need a pizza stone which is big enough to carry the pizza, and a pizza peel which is essential to get the pizza on and off. I have found that scattering a little polenta / semolina flour, on the peel really helps prevent the dough from sticking. Fritz likes to flour the underside.

The other piece of equipment I really like is the fire starting chimney. It makes lighting your charcoal a breeze, and you simply need to tip it out into the egg and then top up with more charcoal as you go.

There are masses of tutorials to help you with al things related to a Big Green Egg and I particularly enjoyed this video tutorial by Fred Bernado – the smoky guitar player . I am completely and utterly in love with mine. It is far beyond an outdoor barbecue, it’s an outdoor cooking phenomenon. If you have all the above equipment, correct pizza dough, proper charcoal, along with a Big Green Egg of course, you have your own proper pizza oven that makes authentic wood-fired pizzas in your back yard. Forever.

For more of my Big Green recipes take a look at my:sticky chipotle barbecue ribs or my lower carb pizza’s made with aubergine as the base.  

pizza with grilled aubergine, goats cheese and pesto

* My Big Green Egg was sponsored

I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.

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13 Responses to pizza with grilled aubergine, basil pesto and goats cheese

  1. Emily Tapp March 18, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    I am a pizza fanatic, and this just looks wonderful.

  2. Sam March 18, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    Thanks Emily – I rather enjoyed it myself 🙂

  3. Renee@AmsterdamFoodStories March 18, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    Yum! This pizza looks and sounds delicious. I really want to eat this for dinner tonight.. And if it’s not possible, I’ll make it definitely another day. Love the look of the rustic and crunchy dough!

  4. Jo March 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    We were given a (small) Big Green Egg but so far have only used it as a braai. But I’ll definitely give these pizzas a go – where did the company suggest you get the correct charcoal from? And I’d love to see some more recipes for the Egg!

  5. Daniela @ FoodrecipesHQ March 18, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    Fantastic Recipe. This pizza reminds me of those Italian summer nights I miss so much….

  6. Sam March 18, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    HI Jo – look out for the brand Namcha lump charcoal. You want really big pieces. I think BGE are getting into distributing a proper charcoal soon, so I will advise on my SM when I hear more. I have posted a few egg recipes (links at the bottom of my post) and will likely do more in the future.

  7. Carolie March 18, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    Exactly what I am going to make for tonight – with gluten-free flour though! Thanks Sam x

  8. Laura (Tutti Dolci) March 18, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    I love grilled pizza, this looks mouth watering!

  9. Jeff Parker March 19, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    I just got a new pizza oven from Bull Outdoor. I’m testing it this week. I had a bunch of seasoned olive wood delivered which is supposed to be great for pizza… Burns nice and hot. I’ll give the dough from 101 Cookbooks a try. I’m looking forward to perusing your blog. Cheers

  10. Sam March 19, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Good luck Jeff, sounds delicious 🙂

  11. Bert March 21, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    Awesome topping combinations, another option is to zucchini in place of the eggplant.

  12. Sam March 24, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Hi Bert, yes, zucchini is awesome a pizza, in fact one of my favourite toppings and one you seldom see in restaurants.

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