Iowa Summer Pizza

By Anita McVey, Picnic Life Foodie 

Iowa Summer Pizza is inspired by the fresh, mouthwatering flavors of summertime in Iowa. Photo credit: Anita McVey

Does the thought of that first, fresh-from-the-garden tomato make your mouth water? Will the sight of the first sweet corn truck along the road trigger your foot to move from the accelerator to the brake? Can crispy bacon, slices of that juicy tomato, some mayonnaise, cool lettuce and a couple pieces of toast satisfy you more than any four-course meal?


Here in the Midwest, July arrives and so do the hopes that these oh-so-simple food cravings will soon be met, and met in excess! Please don’t tell me I can only have two slices of bacon on my BLT. Please allow me to slice my tomato as thin or as thick as I choose. Please look politely away as the butter drips from my corn and onto my plate (or my shirt). The anticipation is over… it’s officially summertime in Iowa!

Please note: By clicking the following links you'll be taken off a partially funded checkoff site.

Last summer, I had the great privilege of traveling with the Iowa Food & Family Project on Expedition Farm Country. We toured several farms in southeast Iowa, learning from wonderful families about their farms and their commitment to the land and animals. At each and every stop, we were encouraged to ask questions. The farm families honestly discussed hot topics and current political concerns as easily as they answered questions about raising families in rural Iowa.

What does this have to do with tomatoes, sweet corn and bacon? They fed us really well during Expedition Farm Country! All our meals were delicious but one stop registered particularly high on my food-blogger radar. Instead of driving into a nearby town or city for dinner, our tour bus left the highway and traveled a few miles on gravel roads and pulled onto a pretty little farm outside Wellman, Iowa. On Friday nights, this farm turns into an outdoor restaurant, Pizza on the Farm, as Stone Wall Pizza serves up live music, yard games, local wine and a buffet of homemade brick-oven pizza. 

One pizza piqued my curiosity: Sweet Summer. Fresh tomatoes, crispy bacon, and tender sweet corn on a wood-fired crust. Simply amazing.

I have yet to convince my husband that we need a brick pizza oven in our backyard, so I turned to my summer cooking partner, the grill, and started creating my version of that brilliant pizza combination.

There are all kinds of options when it comes to pizza crust. The convenience of buying pizza dough at the grocery store cannot be beat for quick meals, but I had been curious to try a homemade, two-ingredient crust recipe. It called only for self-rising flour and sour cream.

Given that I have been a long-time fan of AE Dairy Sour Cream and that AE Dairy is a long-time (almost 90 years) Iowa-based company using milk produced in Iowa by Iowa dairy cows, well… you can see where this is going… I opted for AE Dairy Sour Cream for the crust recipe. Using only those two ingredients, the dough seemed too dense for pizza crust so I thinned it out with a little water and then, for flavor and maybe a little luck, added a pinch of salt. That was all it took to get the dough to a workable consistency.

Bacon is a widely loved pork delicacy. If by some rare chance, you do not share a love for bacon, or if you are lucky enough to have some leftover ham or bratwurst in your refrigerator, either would make a wonderful substitution. Maybe you just want to go all Iowa-hog-wild and put all three on your pizza… your Iowa pork producers (and your taste buds) will thank you for it!

No matter how you cut it, this pizza is a satisfying slice of summer! Enjoy my pizza recipe that’s fully inspired by summertime in Iowa.

Iowa Summer Pizza 

Iowa Summer Pizza. Photo credit: Anita McVey

BBQ-Basil White Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise/salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons AE Dairy sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon BBQ seasoning or chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil


  • 1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup AE Dairy sour cream
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • Pinch of salt


  • Olive or avocado oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6-8 slices peppered bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Thinly sliced fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2-1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
  • 1/2 teaspoon BBQ seasoning or chili powder
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil

White Sauce: Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until pizza is ready to serve.

Corn: Cut the kernels off one ear of fresh sweet corn. Heat one tablespoon olive/avocado oil or bacon drippings in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add corn kernels and BBQ seasoning (or chili powder) to pan and sauté corn for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Crust: Combine self-rising flour, sour cream, 1/4 cup water and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Mix ingredients together gently by hand. Add more water if necessary for the ingredients to come together and form a slightly sticky ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead, folding the dough over onto itself until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Divide dough into two pieces and form each into a 12” circle. Transfer crusts to a large cutting board or cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper (one sheet for each crust) and sprinkled with flour.

Assembly and Grilling: 

Photo credit: Anita McVey. 

Preheat grill to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Have all topping ingredients together and near the grill when ready to start cooking the pizza.

Brush the grill grate with olive oil to keep the dough from sticking. Take each crust (with the parchment under it) and quickly invert the crust onto the grill, removing and discarding parchment paper.

Drizzle the top of each crust with olive/avocado oil and sprinkle with minced garlic. Place sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on top. Sprinkle bacon, corn and Parmesan cheese over the tomatoes and mozzarella. Drizzle a little more olive/avocado oil on the outer edge of the crust.

Close the lid and allow pizza to cook for 4-5 minutes. Rotate the pizzas to prevent burning and to cook evenly. Close lid again and continue to monitor and rotate for 8-10 more minutes, or until the crust is “blistered” and the cheeses are melted. Remove the pizzas from the grill onto a cutting board. Drizzle each pizza with white sauce and sprinkle with more fresh basil.