Little Bites: Ris Lacoste of RIS’ Grilled Avocado Pizza

By Nevin Martell

Oftentimes chefs don’t want to cook another meal when they get home after an arduous 12-hour stretch behind the burners. But throwing together a comforting snack to help take the edge off the day is another proposition entirely. These scrumptious nibbles don’t require a degree from the Culinary Institute of America to make, but they’re worthy of winning a Top Chef Quickfire Challenge.

This week, we take a stroll over to RIS in Foggy Bottom to get a recipe from chef-owner Ris Lacoste. When she got back from one of her invigorating and inspiring daily walks, she happily shared the recipe for grilled pizza topped with cubed avocado, tomatoes rounds, feta crumbles, and onion jam. It sounds like the perfect meal after an hour-long jaunt through the District – or an hour on the treadmill watching Homeland.




  • 2 ½ teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ cup fine ground white cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups all purpose flour


  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a dough hook, dissolve yeast in the warm water and let it sit until bubbly.
  • Add all other ingredients, except all-purpose flour, and mix at medium speed until combined.
  • In batches, add the flour and mix until soft dough forms.
  • Turn dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for 1-½ hours until doubled in volume.  Punch the dough and knead a few times, return to bowl and let rise again for another 40 minutes
  • Prepare pizza toppings (see below).
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 3-ounce portions (roughly the size of a tennis ball).  Set aside to rest on a lightly oiled sheet pan for 5-10 minutes before shaping into pizza rounds.
  • Using a light dusting of flour, shape each ball into a 6-8” pizza and place each one in between sheets of oiled parchment paper or foil.  Let rise again for another 5 minutes before grilling.
  • Heat grill to medium heat and oil lightly.  Grill each pizza for 2-3 minutes on each side until firm and crisp.  Top immediately with pizza toppings.
  • Note:  The dough is best when made just before grilling, but it can easily be made the night before or frozen for later use.  Follow steps thru measuring out into 3-ounce portions after the first rise.  Form into balls and wrap well with plastic before freezing.  When ready to use, let dough come to room temperature by removing plastic and setting in a lightly oiled bowl covered with a damp towel.  Rise for 1 ½ – 2 hours before shaping into pizza rounds, then continue with the rest of the preparation.



  • 1 pound red onions, sliced in whole rounds
  • 6 ounces olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces plain yogurt
  • 2 ripe avocados, chunky dice
  • 18-24 cherry tomatoes (different colors), halved
  • 6-8 ounces feta cheese
  • 3 limes
  • Fresh parsley


  1. Prepare the toppings while dough is rising.  Placed sliced onions in a bowl and dress then with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cider vinegar, and salt and pepper. Try not to separate the rings.
  2. Heat the grill to medium-low and grill the onions for 5-8 minutes on each side until well colored and cooked thru.
  3. Return onions to bowl in reserved dressing.  When cool, mince the onions, season if needed with further salt and pepper, and set aside this grilled onion jam until ready to use.
  4. Combine 4 ounces of extra virgin olive oil and garlic, set aside.
  5. Prepare the avocados by cutting them in half lengthwise and removing the pit.  With each half still in the skin, hold it in the palm of your hand and cross cut the flesh with a paring knife, leaving flesh in skin.  Place the two halves back together to prevent discoloration until ready to use.
  6. To top the pizzas, brush the just grilled pizza dough with the garlic oil, spread a layer of yogurt, then a layer of onion jam.  Scoop out the chunks of avocado and sprinkle about a 1/3 of it onto each pizza.  Distribute tomato halves evenly and a good crumbling of feta cheese.
  7. Sprinkle each pizza with lime juice and season with salt and pepper.  Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and garnish with fresh parsley.  Cut each pizza into 4 wedges and serve. Makes 6 individual pizzas.