Homemade Pizza Throwdown!

Keith & Sara's Pizza: Tomato/Pesto with Basil, Mozzarella, Italian Sausage, Prosciutto, and Pepperoni

Everybody likes pizza.  Well, anybody who I like likes pizza, at least.  I think my dad pretends to not like pizza sometimes, but he is lying, because his favorite thing about visiting me in New York was definitely the part where we “made him” get pizza for lunch.  (Dad, I love you and miss you very much, but I will never forgive you for the time I got my wisdom teeth pulled and you ate all my diet yogurt.)  Anyway, back to pizza and how terrific it is!

A lovely produce stand outside of Watsonville.

We were in Santa Cruz for the holiday weekend, visiting Ryan’s brother Keith and his wonderful wife, Sara.  They actually live in Watsonville, home of Driscoll’s berry farms, which is super cool.  So much interesting farming going on up there.  We drove up Friday after Ryan got out of work and had an amazing weekend with perfect, sunny weather.  Saturday, we went to the beach, on a long walk, and into Santa Cruz for Greek food and ice cream.  On Sunday, we checked out a produce stand, ate sandwiches and watched the Dodger game, did a quick trip to the beach, and, of course, cooked!

Ryan and his big brother Keith, outside of this Greek restaurant in Santa Cruz.

Keith and I had been humorously planning a “throwdown” for a few months already.  If you are not familiar with the television show Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, allow me to summarize…  Bobby Flay basically “surprises” people who make a really good something or another, such as waffles or burritos, and then, Flay tries to make that same food, but better.  It’s actually pretty rude, if you think about it.  Anyway, back to the real story: Keith and I both adore a good vegetable, and Keith even works in the produce world.  But the joke was on me: I could never beat Keith in a throwdown, because I don’t cook with bacon.   Clearly, though, this weekend provided the perfect opportunity for a cook-off.  The only problem was figuring out something both fair and fun to cook… After all, how lame would it be for the four of us just to eat the same meal prepared twice?  Boring!  Especially if there was a clear-cut winner.  (Awkward?)  So we decided on pizza, because our pizza styles are so different.  I could go veggie, Keith could go meat.

A very blue picture of Sara, some statue, and me!

Obviously, I needed Ryan’s help.  You do remember that we make amazing pizza, right?  Anyway, Ryan is the best at this stuff: he actually made the dough, kneaded it, grilled it!  And we were sans piastra and working with a charcoal grill, and it still worked!  So if you haven’t tried to grill pizza yet, what are you waiting for?!  I can now confirm that you need nothing but a grill to achieve such culinary greatness.  And all of your friends will be absurdly impressed.

Now, onto the lighthearted pizza throwdown!  I’m going to try to keep commentary here to a minimum, and let the pictures speak for themselves…


Keith and Sara apply a tomato paste and pesto spread to their pan pizza.

Ryan prepares our dough for the grill.

The roasted vegetables seen below: a variety of summer squash from Keith & Sara’s CSA box, button mushrooms, red onion, and yellow and orange bell peppers.  I roasted them at 450° until wonderful and sweet and soft, but not mushy, with olive oil, salt, pepper, and some kind of Mediterranean seasoning Sara bought.  I am obsessed with roasted vegetables… I love how the natural sugars in vegetables just pop under high heat.

I show off my roasted vegetables, which act as both toppings for our grilled pizza and a side dish for dinner.

Honestly, could Ryan be any more perfect? He buys me peaches and lets me photograph his food. Oh, wait, he could be more perfect! He despises asparagus. Let's work on that.

Naturally, we split up into two teams.  And Sara made amazing chocolate covered strawberries, too!  I’ve never tasted a pizza like Keith and Sara’s pie.  It was meaty and cheesy and filling and so ridiculously good.  Wow.

Keith and Sara's pizza, before baking.

This absolutely tastes as good as it looks!!

Our Roasted Vegetable Pizza

We also made a pepperoni pizza, and two other meat and veggie pizzas that we never even got around to cooking!  But I have a feeling they will make a lovely dinner for Keith and Sara this week…

Pizza Party!!

I don’t really feel like babbling today.  I have a billion things to do and need to go on a really long walk.  I can’t wait to get exercising again!  For the record, we declared the throwdown a tie, because we’re civil like that.  And because we were too full to truly judge.  And because everything was just really, really great.  I asked Keith for his recipe, so as soon as I receive it, I’ll attach it to this post.  You can find the basic recipe for grilled pizza in my previous pizza post.

Look for something interesting cooking in my kitchen soon!  Have a happy Tuesday!

14 Responses to “Homemade Pizza Throwdown!”
  1. Emma says:

    your pizza looks delicious!

  2. Kathleen says:

    These look like some gorgeous pizzas!

  3. That roasted veggie pizza is making me hungry (and sad that I will likely eat something boring tonight) 😦

  4. i’m obsessed with “throwdown” (and the food network) i love the idea of doing one! or more, judging one…

  5. you need to send me your dough recipe. i haven’t found the perfect one yet.

    BTW–throwdown is kind of rude! but if you like sushi, the sushi throwdown took place on the corner of overland & palms.

  6. lisasfoods says:

    Yum! I love pizza.

    Did you put the whole pizza on the grill? Do you put it on a baking sheet, then place the sheet on the grates of the grill? I’ve never had barbecued pizza, but I’d like to try it out. Wood-fired pizza’s good too, when I used to work at a farm with a wood-fired oven where we’d make our own pizzas.

  7. sweetlife says:

    a pizza throwdown, what fun…love the blue dress and the roasted veggies looked great..


  8. Monet says:

    Gosh you are too cute. That blue dress? LOVE IT! I thought of you so often while in NYC, and I ate some amazing pizza, but I’m sure that yours would be able to compete with some of the best out on the East Coast…and so much more fun

  9. Lauren,

    Sounds like you had a lot of fun in Santa Cruz! That first pizza looks AMAZING, and so scrumptious (love me some proscuitto), but your roasted vegetable pizza is just plain gorgeous (those colors!). Grilled pizza really is easier than it looks – thanks for sharing that with everyone who may not know. And by the way, you look super cute in all those photos! I want your tan, like, right now.

    Keep up the good work!


    • Lauren says:


      You too can have this tan… Just get tickets to every Dodger game on Sunday afternoons. Choose your shorts carefully, as they will become your second skin.

  10. Mom says:

    Even on my teeny Blackberry I could see some great pies. I will have a slice of each

  11. Oh the roasted vegie looks scrumptious!

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks! You should give it a try! Grilled pizza is way easier than one would imagine, and I’ve seen some of the stuff you make… you could certainly excel at this!

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