When I was a kid (9 or 10) my parents had a dinner party. They invited friends to the house and we spent the better part of our Saturday cleaning and vacuuming, dusting, and setting the table — with the good china.
I remember my parents’ dinner parties because they always felt like special occasions. My brother, Cameron, and I usually ate before the guests arrived and were happily ensconced in the latest episodes of The Love Boat and Fantasy Island — “de plaaane — de plaaane” — while Mom and Dad entertained their company .
And Mom pulled out all the stops for company. No tuna casseroles here. On this particular occasion, she made the appetizer in advance – prosciutto and melon with shaves of fresh parmesan cheese. She arranged it just so on the china, covered it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge until it was “time”.
Now, I realize that proscuitto and melon isn’t an earth shattering combination. But to my ten-year-old self, it seemed pretty bold. And since I helped Mom with the prep — and got to sample the less-than-perfect bits – I remember being surprised by the intensity of the sweet-savory combination.
Today, I’m revisiting those flavors. With a homemade pizza. Or maybe it’s a flatbread, I can’t decide. Whatever you call it — it’s gonna be good!
I made my own dough (aren’t you impressed?) but you don’t have to — most bakery departments sell fresh pizza dough for about $2 .
Slice the cantaloupe thinly and if you’re feeling fancy, cut them into “pepperoni rounds” with a small biscuit cutter or flute glass.
Instead of prosciutto, I used the less expensive pancetta, sliced very thinly. It browned beautifully on the grill.
A simple salad of arugula greens tossed in a simple vinaigrette finished the dish. Serve with chilled white wine — or — as Scott prefers — an ice cold beer. What a great way to celebrate summer!
Grilled Pancetta and Melon Pizza
For the pizza dough
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water 105-115 degrees Farenheit
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- extra flour for rolling out pizza dough
- 1/2 pound pancetta thinly sliced
- 1/2 cantaloupe cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter if desired, seeded, cut into 1/4"thick slices
- 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
- 16 ounces mozzarella cheese fresh , sliced into 1/4" thick pieces
- 1 cup parmesan cheese grated
- 10 ounces baby arugula
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 large clove garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- Add the flour to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. In a separate bowl, combine the yeast with the warm water and stir together. Set aside for a few minutes until the yeast starts to bubble. Add the yeast to the dough and turn the mixer onto a low setting. Knead the dough on low speed for 5-6 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and continue kneading for 2 more minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the stand. Shape the dough into a round ball and set in the bowl. Pour the olive oil over the dough and turn the dough over until it is well coated with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours. It will double in bulk and start to develop a yeasty aroma.
- The dough is ready to use at this point, but for a more flavorful dough, punch it down and reform into a tight ball. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover and refrigerate for another 12 hours.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about half an hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare the toppings. Separate the pancetta slices so they are easily accessible (they tend to stick). Slice the cantaloupe into thin slices. If you want to be fancy, use a biscuit cutter to cut the cantaloupe into "pepperoni rounds". Slice the onion and mozzarella and arrange the ingredients on a platter so you can easily build the pizzas on the grill. It is important to have everything in its place before you begin to cook.
- Place the arugula into a salad bowl and set aside. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, dijon, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside. (Don't dress the greens until you're ready to serve -- otherwise they will wilt.)
- Preheat the grill to 400 degrees.
- Dust your work surface with flour. Separate the dough into 4 equal portions and roll each one into a ball. Place one ball of dough on the work surface and use a rolling pin, lightly dusted with flour to roll the dough into a disc about 1/4"- 1/3" thick. Set the dough onto a baking sheet and continue rolling out the other balls of dough.
- Assemble these ingredients by the grill: pizza dough, olive oil (and pastry brush), pancetta, cantaloupe, mozzarella, onions, parmesan.
- Place a pizza dough on the grill. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and quickly brush the oil over the dough with a pastry brush. Lay one quarter of the pancetta over the dough in an even layer. Top with a quarter of the cantaloupe, mozzarella, onions and parmesan cheese. Close the lid on the grill and cook for 6-7 minutes. Monitor the grill in case of any flare ups. Use a large spatula to transfer the pizza to a baking sheet or pizza peel. Continue with the remaining pizzas. (note: depending on your grill size you can cook 2-4 pizzas at a time, but the longer the lid is up, the more the grill will cool and it may take some time to get back to a high cooking temperature.
- Add the dressing to the arugula and toss.
- Serve pizzas individually with a nest of arugula on top, or cut into wedges and top each wedge with greens.
One pizza dough will make 4 individual 6-8" pizzas and will serve 3-4 people as a main course or 6-8 for an appetizer.
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