May 14, 2009

garden-inspired pizza: onions and herbs

There is absolutely something to be said for learning from one's mistakes. In the past, I've wound up with under-cooked pizzas, had trouble with dough not rising, and stuck to a strict roster of toppings that never really amounted to more than a buffet-style flop. 

Earlier this week, things were different. I tell you, folks, this novice cook might--might--be coming into her own.

First of all, I utilized my bread machine. You know, that glorious piece of kitchen machinery so lovingly gifted to me at Christmastime? I had yet to make pizza dough in it! The insanity! In just 90 minutes, I had a beautiful ball of perfect pizza dough--enough for two pizzas. I dutifully chopped it in half and tossed some in the freezer (because after this experience, pizza night will become a weekly thing). 

For the toppings, I decided to keep it simple: I picked up only a couple of things at the store--everything else would hail from my mom's garden or our own. Remembering what a hit this pear and gorgonzola pizza was, the gears started turning.

Ryan's not a fan of saucy pizzas, which inspired me to go for a simple sauce-less variety. (He'll get his share of sauces when my mom can't even give away all of her tomatoes later this summer.) A few slices of prosciutto on the bottom, followed by lightly caramelized fresh onions (mom's garden), then topped with the three cheeses I still had in the fridge: gorgonzola crumbles, paper-thin parmesan slices, and dabs of chevre. To round it out, a good handful of mediterranean olives and some fresh basil, oregano, and parsley. 

Here's the recipe in proper recipe format. My hope is that each week, as we get more late spring and early summer produce, I'll have a new garden inspiration. That way, you can cook along in season. It'll be so much fun!

Pizza Night Uno 
Garden Inspiration: Onions and Herbs.

1 pizza crust
1 small package prosciutto (sliced)
2 onions, sliced paper thin
2 ounces shaved or shredded parmesan
2 tablespoons gorgonzola crumbles
2 tablespoons chevre
3 spoonfuls of chopped olives 
small handful of fresh herbs, chopped (basil, oregano, and parsley work well)
drizzle of EVOO

Make your pizza crust according to your favorite recipe (I used the one found in my bread machine book, which called for whole wheat and AP flour). Preheat your oven to 350, with a baking stone (a cookie sheet will work fine too). 

Begin cooking your onions on medium heat with about 1 tsp butter in the pan. Just cook until they're translucent, or maybe even beginning to get a little brown--however you like 'em. 

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. I let mine get a little crispy at this stage.

Pull out the crust and carefully top it with all your toppings. Then bake it until the cheese is melted--about 6 minutes longer. 

Drizzle on some EVOO and sprinkle it with fresh chopped herbs, then send it to the table with a a salad--and you've got a surefire hit on your hands. 

Speaking of salad... my salad for this meal escaped the camera's glare, but rest assured it was delectable. The last of the spring lettuce from my mom, tossed with slivered almonds, fresh in-season strawberries (not ours, yet), gorgonzola, and a sweet vinaigrette. 

For the a nice springy vinaigrette that complements a berry salad, try this (a riff on my friend Ellen's European Vinaigrette):

2 tablespoons canola oil 
1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
scant 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
fresh ground pepper

Mix well and toss with spring greens, berries, pecans, and tangy cheese. Deeeelish. 


goodness said...

Hi Amber,

Just wanted to drop you a comment and tell you that I love reading your blog! I have read almost all of the same books and have been working really hard to make my lifestyle as sustainable as possible since about 2007.
Thanks for all of the inspiration and fun stories!


PS. I've never made pizza, but I think I might just have to give it a try!

amber said...

Thanks, Kate!! I'm so glad you're on the same journey. I'm finding it to be very fun and am learning so much more than I could've imagined I'd want to know.

Pizza is so great--the trick is getting comfortable with a crust recipe. Keep it simple, and just make sure you give the yeast time to rise, and you should be good. Baking stones are great (I found mine at Ross for $5), but you can also use a plain baking sheet and get fantastic results. As for toppings, be as creative as you want--and stay posted for my (hopefully) weekly pizza ideas! Thanks for reading and even more for writing!


Candace Benad Wilson said...

Amber darling,

This pizza recipe sounds divine! If I could just get my husband to eat his veggies... :)

Looks like I'll make this for just me the next time he goes out of town, can't wait to try it out!

Much love,