grilled zucchini pizza tacos

Call this a pizza taco. Or a small folded over pizza. With a hit of flavor from the ranchero sauce. Doesn’t matter what you call it. Just enjoy it.  This recipe comes from Tim Love, the Texas chef who is known for his vibrant personality and innovative dishes. He calls “this a riff on the way kids eat their pizza — folding it over like a taco.”  

The recipe will yield enough tacos to feed a large crowd. Keep that in mind as you gather the ingredients. Let’s start off with the pizza shells…

It’s not totally necessary but is a good idea to be sure that your warm water is right around 105°F …the perfect environment to bring the dry yeast to life. The yeast is sprinkled over the warm water and almost immediately, you’ll notice the bubbling effect around the edges.

Place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Form a well in the center. After a brief 10-minute wait, the foamy liquid is poured into the open well along with the olive oil. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, pull the flour from the sides of the bowl into the center to blend all ingredients. This makes a somewhat wet dough that is fairly easy to handle.

At this point, the dough requires about five minutes of kneading. Of course, this can be done by hand. But if you are fortunate enough to have a heavy-duty stand mixer with a dough hook, now is the time to use it.

The dough is divided into equal portions, each weighing in at about 2-ounces. You should end up with 28 to 30 balls of dough. I know …that’s a lot of dough balls. But even if you aren’t feeding a crowd, you’ll be so happy to have the extra prepared pizza shells in your freezer.

Once the dough has risen for about an hour, each ball is rolled out into a 6-inch disc. Brush each one with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. They’re now ready for the grill. Speaking of grilling, this is where things can get tricky. The dough is very tender and you must use caution when transferring each disc to the hot grill. I find that if I lift each disc (using my hands) by carefully grabbing the edge on either side near the top then quickly flip the seasoned side onto the grill, the shape pretty much stays intact. And remember, if they become misshapen …it’s okay. They don’t have to be perfectly round in order to be delicious.

A word of caution …do not overcook the pizza shells. Just a minute or two per side, over medium heat, will do it. Since they will be folded over, you want them to be soft and pliable. If you end up with a few “crispy” shells, that’s okay. Just save them for when you want to make small individual pizzas.

Now that the pizza shells are ready, let’s move on to the Ranchero Sauce. This comes together quickly and makes quite a bit …about 3 1/2 cups. Once again, if you don’t need it all right away, freeze the excess in small containers for future use. It’s super tasty with a little kick of heat thrown in. Just the thing to transform these treats into tacos instead of just folded pizzas.

Start off by sautéing the chopped pepper and onion in a small amount of neutral vegetable oil. While that is cooking, core and chop the tomatoes. They’ll be added to mix along with the chipotle peppers for the final simmer.

The sauce can be cooked in a large saucepan then transferred to your blender or food processor to smooth it out. I like to simmer it in a tall-sided narrower pot so that the cooked mixture can be finished off with my immersion blender. Way less clean up required that way. Always a good thing, right?

So now that the sauce is ready, it’s time to move on to the taco ingredients. I know this seems like a lot of steps but I do love the idea of preparing the pizza shells ahead of time, as well as the ranchero sauce. The pizza tacos can be customized by using whatever you may have on hand. Or whatever your mood dictates. Just grab the shells and sauce from the freezer and your prep work is almost done.

For this recipe, we’ll be grilling some zucchini spears. Great way to use that abundance of zucchini in your fridge.

Once the grilled zucchini is cool enough to handle, slice it on the bias and add that to your fixin’s. The pizza tacos can be assembled all at once or you could set up a “taco bar” for everyone to make their own.

Just imagine making these with shredded rotisserie chicken or maybe some grilled shrimp added for extra protein. Also, I’m thinking grilled asparagus or grilled mushroom slices would be amazing. Or both. Instead of using fresh mozzarella & ricotta, try switching to some crumbled queso fresco. Like I was saying, a “taco bar” may be just the thing. Or enjoy these beauties just as they are.

grilled zucchini pizza tacos

Adapted from Chef Tim Love

Grilled pizza crust forms the "shell" of these tasty tacos, loaded with grilled zucchini, mozzarella & ricotta.  All topped off with a spicy ranchero sauce.


Servings 28 to 30 tacos

Ingredients

Pizza Shells

  • 2 2/3 cups warm water, ideally at 105°F (593 grams / 21 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 7 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (900 grams / 32 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon fine kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus extra for grilling)
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Ranchero Sauce

  • 2 small or 1 large red sweet peppers, chopped (1 1/2 cups / 8.5 ounces)
  • 1 small white onion, chopped (1/2 cup / 3 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
  • 4 to 5 fresh tomatoes, cored & chopped (2 1/2 cups / 17.5 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Mini Pizza Tacos

  • 1 15-ounce carton whole-milk ricotta cheese (or fresh ricotta cheese)
  • 3 pounds zucchini
  • Ranchero Sauce
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shaved red onion
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • crushed red pepper, optional

Instructions

Pizza Shells

  1. For the dough, in a bowl mix warm water and sugar and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.

  2. In a separate large bowl whisk together the flour and 1 tablespoon salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture along with the  6 tablespoons olive oil, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula as you pull the flour to the center. Gradually stir with a wooden spoon to form a rough dough ball. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.  Alternatively, mix the ingredients and knead the dough in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer with a dough hook.

  3. Pinch off 2-ounce portions of dough and shape into balls. Arrange on an oiled tray, brushing the top of each with extra-virgin olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm area to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

  4. Roll out each ball to form a 6-inch pizza shell. Prick all over with the tines of a fork. Brush with additional oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill each on the rack of a covered grill directly over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes per side or until browned.  

  5. Do not overcook; the pizza shells should remain soft and pliable.  Any unused shells can be wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to three months.

Ranchero Sauce

  1. In a large saucepan cook sweet peppers and onion in hot oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes, water, and chipotles. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and add honey. Cool slightly. 

  2. Transfer to a blender or food processor. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Alternatively, the sauce can be cooked in a tall-sided narrower pot so that the cooked mixture can be finished off with an immersion blender. 

  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 3 1/2 cups.  Store any unused sauce in a sealed container in the freezer for up to three months.

Mini Pizza Tacos

  1. Line a sieve with 100% cotton cheesecloth and place it atop a bowl. Place ricotta cheese in the sieve. Cover and let drain in the refrigerator overnight. Discard liquid.  If using fresh ricotta cheese, it tends to be drier so this step can be skipped.

  2. Quarter zucchini lengthwise. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on the rack of a covered grill for 6 minutes or until browned and tender, turning occasionally. When cool enough to handle, slice on the bias.

  3. Top each Pizza Shell with 1 to 2 tablespoons Ranchero Sauce, some crumbled ricotta, fresh mozzarella, zucchini, red onion, and chives.  Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if desired.  Fold to eat.

grilled zucchini pizza tacos

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