Pizza night!

April 18, 2012

Margaux says…

I’ve always wanted to do a “pizza night” regularly in our house, but never got around to it.  Whenever I think of it, it always seems like too much work, so I figure I’ll just do it another time.  And until I get better at it, it is kind of a lot of work.  But let’s be honest, not much more than any other meal that I prepare on a regular basis.  So tonight, I’m starting a new tradition of making pizzas once a month (or so)!  Because with this new pizza dough recipe that I got from last month’s issue of Bon Appetit, these pizzas are REALLY GOOD.  Like, as good as a fancy Italian pizzeria good.  And it’s a lot easier than other recipes I’ve used, where you have to knead it and stuff (probably one of the main reasons why pizza night hasn’t happened regularly yet).  You just have to remember to make the dough the night before, and you’re good to go.

I’ve always been one of those, “pizza isn’t pizza without a ton of sauce” people, until recently.  I loved my pizza drenched in tomato sauce, and would be happy with some on the side to dip it in.  But lately my pizza tastes have finally grown up, and I’m actually preferring “white” pizzas, no sauce included.  Tonight I made a couple of these sauceless pizzas, and they were fantastic.  My topping suggestions that we tried out tonight are below.

Basic Pizza Dough

from Bon Appetit, March 2012

This makes three 10-12″ pizzas.

Make this dough 18 hours before use.  You can make it up to 3 days ahead of time and refrigerate it (just make sure you take it out 2-3 hours before using).

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups room temperature water

Whisk flour, salt and yeast in a medium bowl.  While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add water; stir until well incorporated.  Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball.  Transfer to a large clean bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature in a draft-free area until sufrace is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours.  Transfer dough to a floured work surface.  Gently shape into a rough rectangle.  Divide into 3 equal portions.  Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds.  Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball.  Dust dough with flour, set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining portions.  (If making ahead of time, wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate until using).  Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour.

To make the pizzas:

During the last hour of dough’s resting, prepare oven:  preheat oven to hottest setting, 500-550 degrees, for 1 hour. Working with one dough ball at a a time, dust dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface.  Gently shape dough into a 10-12″ disk.  Arrange dough disk on baking sheet; top with toppings (see ideas below).  Bake pizza until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a work surface to slice.

Kale, marinated tomato, and kalamata olive pizza

1 bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped into 1-2″ pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

kalamata olives

shredded mozzarella cheese

To prepare kale:

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add kale and minced garlic, and saute until greens are bright green and softened.  Set aside to let cool.

To prepare marinated tomatoes:

**best if made night before, or at least 2-3 hours beforehand**

Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 1/4 tsp salt until emulsified.  Pour over halved tomatoes in airtight container, cover with a lid and toss until tomatoes are all coated.  Refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

To build pizza:

Spread sauteed kale over pizza dough, then cover with desired amount of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Arrange tomatoes and olives over the top, and bake.

Italian sausage, caramelized onion and marinated tomato pizza with basil and parmesan

1 mild italian sausage

marinated cherry tomatoes (see recipe above)

caramelized onion (I used one onion, and I like this recipe)

several basil leaves, chiffonaded

shredded mozzarella cheese

grated parmesan cheese

To prepare sausage:

Remove sausage from casing and roll into small balls.  Saute over medium-high heat in a large skillet until cooked thoroughly and browned slightly.  Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.  Set aside.

To build pizza:

Scatter sausage and onions over prepared pizza dough.  Top with mozzarella cheese, then scatter tomatoes and basil over that.  Add a little parmesan cheese over the top.  Bake.


Aunt Suzy says

I love the sometimes circuitous path to a new recipe, especially one that turns out to be a taste treat.  Our path to this kale dish was that our upstairs neighbors went on vacation this week and left us with a huge bag of young kale.   True confessions – I have never cooked regular kale, preferring over the years Lacinato (also called Dino or Tuscan) kale.  And this is for a self-professed lover of cooked greens.  So I went looking for a recipe and found this one.  Randy and I agreed that this could become one of our staples.  It was fast and full of flavor surprises.  We had leftovers from the Shrimp and Vegetable Tagine and the two made for a great meal!   The quantities in this recipe are guidelines, so please adjust to your taste!

1/3 cup dried currants

2-3 bunches regular kale (totaling about 1 pound)

1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, thickly sliced and cut into half-moons

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, cover the dried currants with hot water.  Let stand at least 5 minutes, till softened, and then drain.

Wash the kale in a sink full of water.  Remove the center stems.  Place the leaves in a steamer and steam for 7-10 minutes, until tender.  The time can vary greatly depending on how old/young the kale is.  You might need to do this in two batches depending on how big of a steamer you have. 

Drain the kale in a colander.  When the kale is cool enough to handle, squeeze the liquid out by hand.  Shake to uncompress and then chop the kale into pieces, about 2×2 inches.   

In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and then add/melt the butter to bubbling.  Add the onion and cook over medium heat until pieces begin to brown a little, about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken broth and the cooked kale and stir to blend.  Cover and cook over moderate heat for about 3 minutes, stirring a few times, until the kale is hot and sizzling. 

Stir in the currants, olives, lemon zest and lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until heated through.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve.