May 22, 2009

garden-inspired pizza: heirloom onions and squash

I've realized there never really comes a point where I stop myself and ask, "Did I just add too much cheese?" And in the unlikely event that the question comes up, the answer is always a resounding, "Nope, carry on."

Cheese. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

Last night when I was the sole beneficiary of this week's garden pizza, I went to town. There was sauce--lots of it. There was spinach. There were onions and squash (from the farmer's market; I asked Ryan to pick out anything that could inspire me for pizza, and boy did he deliver). And. There. Was. Cheese.

Since my eating habits are fairly healthy, I tend to splurge on the cheese part. If I leave meat off, I add more cheese. I completely ignore any sort of fat content, and chalk it up to getting a very healthy serving of dairy and vitamins. And you should too. For this pizza, I wanted to pile on the veggies. I also craved some tomato sauce, so I opened the jar of organic primavera I had stashed in the pantry for emergency spaghetti night. Spaghetti sauce makes for a fantastic pizza base--that's a little trick I learned from my dad, who made pizzas so famous that my friends in high school would flock to his house for lunch. He also suggests putting the sauce on last, which creates an ooey-gooey pie that reminds me a little bit of Chicago-style pizza. Dad, next time I'm home, will you please make pizza? Remember last week when I promised to save the extra dough? It froze and de-thawed marvelously. Since it went through the rise last week, I just thawed it in the fridge for a couple of days. If I hadn't been so forward-thinking, overnight in the fridge and all day on the counter would have done the trick too. The texture was a little bit different than it was last week, but overall it was still delicious and chewy--my favorite. Add some organic spinach to the list, and a handful of cheese (I had slices of provolone and mascarpone, so they both got a chance to shine), and you've got a real winner.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to my second garden-inspired pizza creation. 
Pizza Night Due 
Garden Inspiration: Heirloom Onions and Squash

1 pizza crust
1 tbls EVOO or butter
1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium yellow squash, sliced thin
1/2 cup tomato-based spaghetti sauce
1-2 large handfuls fresh spinach (or 1 package frozen, thawed and pressed)
3-4 ounces provolone
3 ounces mascarpone
crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Make your pizza crust according to your favorite recipe (I used the second half of what I made last week). Preheat your oven to 425 with a baking stone (a cookie sheet will work fine too). *For you avid Sustainable Diet readers, note that I upped my oven temp this week, hoping to melt the cheese and get it browned fairly quickly. Understand that I am still experimenting with the perfect temp, and we're all learning this one together.  

Cut the onions and squash, and add the EVOO or butter to a saute pan on medium heat.

Once the oven is preheated, plop the crust on the baking stone and bake for about 5-6 minutes, just until crust begins to bake.

At this time, begin cooking your onions and squash. Cook in the EVOO just until the squash begins to look a little translucent.

Remove the crust from the oven, and spread the spaghetti sauce over it evenly with the back of a spoon. Layer on the onions and squash, and lay on the provolone. Then, top with the spinach and dollops of mascarpone. If desired, sprinkle on crushed red pepper flakes for an extra kick. (Highly advisable!) 

Bake for about 15 minutes at 425, until the cheese is melted and begins to form a beautiful golden cheese crust.

You know what I'm talking about: the good stuff. Enjoy hot off the stone, or warmed up for lunch the next day.


meghan klotz said...

You are inspiring me to cook and experiment more. I need to be more prepared, and I would probalby be a bit more creative. I am going to have to get your advise on cheese, because Ilove any kind of cheese also, but am not knowledgeable in different types.

Annette said...

This pizza posting is exceptionally lovely - very, very nice. I have added your book recommendation by Thomas Friedman to my list.