In summers past, Trevor and I, lacking outdoor space of our own, have made a project of tending the garden and orchard at my parent’s house. Almost every weekend, we’d put on our gardening jeans, load compost or shovels or seedlings or harvesting baskets into the car, and make the 30 minute trip north of the city just to get our hands dirty. There was something extraordinarily fulfilling about spending a morning doing something physical, about emerging from the tomato patch smelling of greenness, about picking 10 pounds of blackberries despite the dozens of tiny scratches you were bound to get on your arms. About being dirty and sweaty and tired. But after a while it became somewhat impractical to tend a garden so far away, that we could only visit on weekends. So last summer, when we bought our house, the first thing I did was put in a little herb patch, and this year, it has quickly extended down the length of the house to include four raised beds for veggies, a row of strawberries, and a trellis for melons. I have a feeling it will continue to expand, wrapping around the house, using every little bit of sun we have.
Someday, when we have more time and more space, I hope we’ll have an expansive garden – a blackberry patch, rows and rows of strawberries, apple and cherry trees, and pumpkin vines running rampant over the ground. I’ll put up jars of tomatoes and jam and pickles, and we’ll fill the root cellar with potatoes and carrots. But for now, I’m happy with our little urban garden, our tiny wavering apple tree in the front yard, the handful of strawberries I can munch on after my morning run, the melons climbing up their trellis. I like that I can check on it every day, picking tomatoes at the exact moment that they are perfectly ripe, harvesting herbs minutes before adding them to a bowl of pasta.
A few weeks back, I shared a recipe on Hither & Thither for Ashley’s “In Season” series. From a choice of grapes, mulberries, melons, cucumbers, eggplants or collards for July’s featured produce, I chose to work with melons, primarily because I’m holding out hope that this will finally be the year that we have successful melon plants. Of course, in Boston in mid-July, our melons were still tiny little nubbins, but I figured this recipe would give us inspiration when (fingers crossed) all those lovely melons become ripe at the end of August. Melon is not a very frequently used recipe ingredient. When it’s really good – sweet and fragrant and juicy in the best way – it’s eaten by itself in dripping slices. And when it’s not good, it tends to languish at the bottom of the fruit salad bowl. The one savory application of melon I’ve seen is the classic Italian pairing of melon, prosciutto, and mozzarella. So I took that combination and turned it into a grilled pizza, complete with a light alfredo sauce and a pile of creamy burrata on top. It’s a gorgeous pizza – creamy, a little sweet, salty, and smoky from the char of the grill.
Thanks to Ashley for inviting me to share this recipe on Hither & Thither, and for the inspiration to work with a new ingredient!
Grilled Melon, Prosciutto, and Burrata Pizza
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 oz. firm mozzarella cheese, cut into small slices, divided
- Black pepper
- 1 pound fresh pizza dough, preferably homemade
- 1 tsp olive oil, for brushing
- ¼ small melon, cut into very thin wedges and rinds removed and discarded
- 1 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
- 4 oz. fresh burrata cheese
- Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Let the grill heat up while you prepare the sauce and pizza toppings.
- To make the alfredo sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic and thyme leaves and saute, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the flour and stir to fully mix into the melted butter. Cook, stirring, until the better is just starting to brown, about 1 minute, then slowly drizzle in the milk, stirring or whisking constantly to incorporate the flour into the milk. The milk should thicken as it mixes with the flour. Once you have added all the milk, cook the sauce for 2-3 minutes longer, still stirring, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the sauce from the heat. Stir half of the sliced mozzarella into the sauce until it is fully melted, season sauce to taste with black pepper, then set the alfredo sauce aside.
- Stretch the pizza dough into a large, thin rectangle, using your hands to work the dough into the proper shape. Brush one side of the dough with olive oil, then transfer the pizza to the grill, oiled side down. Grill one side just until dough is partially cooked through and crust is slightly charred, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the dough from the grill and set aside.
- Use tongs to place the melon wedges on the grill, taking care not to drop them through the grates. Grill for just 45-60 seconds, or until grill marks have appeared, then flip the melon slices and grill for 45-60 seconds on the other side, then remove the melon slices to a plate.
- Arrange the pizza toppings on the side that has already been grilled: spread the alfredo sauce thinly over the surface of the dough, then arrange the prosciutto slices, grilled melon, and remaining mozzarella over the top of the pizza.
- Return the pizza to the grill, raw (uncooked) side down. Close the lid and cook until the mozzarella has melted and the bottom of the crust is starting to blacken, about 3 minutes, then remove from the grill. Tear the burrata into pieces and scatter over the top of the pizza.