There’s no such thing as pizza season—it’s delicious all year long—but these fresh, light pizza recipes are particularly perfect for summer. They go light on the cheese, incorporate fresh produce (in fact, they’re all vegetarian), and are just plain delicious, if a little different from what you may be used to.
Lighter, Fresher Pizza
You hear pizza, you think cheese that flows like roof tar; pepperoni slices cupping in the oven, filling with grease; and a crust so overladen with toppings it droops like sorrow when you try to lift a slice.
These seven pizzas are different. We designed them to be elegant and summery, but full of flavor. Only one has a foundation of red sauce (okay, two, but one of those is not what you’re expecting), and all of them get flavor from good-quality cheeses: smoked mozzarella, chèvre, Gorgonzola. Also, they’re vegetarian, in a totally inconsequential way that avoids dogma, allowing instead for maximum pleasure.
How to Make Them
The recipes below are pretty casual—no measurements involved at all except in one case—and you can tweak them as you please. For the base, use those raw balls of store-bought pizza dough for convenience, or make this easy Pizza Dough recipe. (Our Whole Wheat Pizza Dough recipe and Grilled Pizza Dough recipe are other options.)
You can cook any of them either in the oven or on the grill:
Ooni Fyra Portable Wood-Fired Pizza Oven, $249 from Williams Sonoma
If you happen to have more advanced gear for making pizza, you can use that too.
Light Pizza Recipes for Summer
Brush the uncooked pizza crust with chipotle purée (a whole can of chipotles in adobo sauce, blended smooth with the addition of a tablespoon or so of olive oil). Spread out a couple of handfuls of grated Jack cheese, some grated smoked mozzarella, a few cherry tomatoes, and julienned peppers (we used red bells and green poblanos). After the pizza comes out of the oven or off the grill, sprinkle with Yucatecan pickled red onions and chopped oregano or cilantro.
Spread the uncooked pizza dough with grated smoked mozzarella, very thinly sliced raw red or fingerling potatoes, salt, and chopped fresh thyme. After baking or grilling, brush the crust with a little olive oil and scatter watercress leaves dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette.
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On the unbaked pizza dough, scatter fresh figs that you’ve halved or quartered and crumbled chèvre goat cheese. When it comes out of the oven or off the grill, brush the crust with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme.
Make basil pesto and set aside. Spread some of this on the uncooked pizza dough, add a layer of sliced fresh mozzarella, very thin slices of yellow and green summer squashes, salt, and thinly sliced red onion. After baking, brush a little olive oil on the crust, and sprinkle the whole pie with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Spread an uncooked crust with a bit of crushed tomato, preferably San Marzanos. Spread a big handful of grated fontina cheese, sliced fresh mozzarella, crumbled Gorgonzola, and thinly sliced red onion over top. After baking, sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Brush the unbaked dough with a little olive oil. Add slices of mixed heirloom tomatoes; salt and pepper them. Sprinkle with crumbled Gorgonzola. After baking, brush the crust with olive oil and sprinkle the pizza with Italian parsley leaves.
Related Reading: Tips for Growing Your Own Tomatoes
Finely chop half a yellow onion and saute it in a little olive oil until soft, then add half of a 24-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes and 1 pint hulled strawberries; simmer into a slightly thickened sauce (about 15 minutes). Brush this on the unbaked pizza dough and scatter the top with fresh mozzarella. After baking or grilling, sprinkle torn fresh basil leaves and red pepper flakes on top.
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Photos by Chris Rochelle; styling by Chris Rochelle and Fernanda Schlender