Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Best Pizza I Ever Made

I may get some argument on this, because I've made a lot of pizzas and people may have their personal favorites, but this one was pretty damn good.

I was in the mood for pizza and am not a fan of the typical vegetarian pizza one can purchase at any local pizzeria. My first instinct was to just make a nice traditional Italian sausage or maybe my Southwestern Chicken pizza, but I decided to be good and do a vegetarian thing.


1 package Trader Joe's pizza dough
Basil Olive Oil from the Temecula Olive Oil Company
Grated Mozzarella cheese
Fresh baby spinach
1 whole head of garlic, roasted (about 12 to 15 cloves I think)
canned artichoke hearts (in water), quartered
canned black olives (plain old California olives, none of those fancy kalamatas or whatever)
fresh grated Parmesan cheese
drizzle of additional olive oil

The Dough
I do a couple variations on pizza dough, but normally I make a focaccia recipe and use that to make a pretty thick crust pizza. Sometimes I roll that out to make thinner crust pizza. Lately I've also been experimenting with a recipe for semolina flatbread. It's a lot quicker to make (no kneading, only one rise) and it has a nice flatbread texture. In a pinch I go with Trader Joe's, fresh from the refrigerator case. Much better in an evening when you don't have time for all that yeast to rise. (HOLY CRAP! There's yeast in this! I guess this isn't vegetarian after all.)

Anyway, this night I hand tossed the pizza dough, which in our kitchen is kind of a challenge. I'm 6-2 and with the dropped ceiling in our kitchen I've got about 12 inches to work. Simple solution, I tossed it in the living room which has a 9 foot ceiling. The ceiling fan creates a bit of an obstacle, but I managed to avoid it.

After tossing I threw it on about a 15" pizza screen and started topping. I brushed the whole thing with basil olive oil, then applied a thin layer of grated Mozzarella. Next the baby spinach leaves. These went on in a single layer, pretty much covering the entire pizza (it shrinks quite a bit during cooking, so it needs a lot, but don't layer it or it gets too wet.) On top of the spinach came the garlic, artichokes and olives. I kind of tear these up to avoid giant chunks and so I can distribute them evenly (and heavily) over the entire pizza. A little sprinkle of salt and fresh ground black pepper and then the grated parmessan. Finally, a light drizzle of olive oil over the whole thing and onto the top rack of a 450-degree oven for about 12 - 15 minutes.

I served mine with a liberal (Democratic) sprinkle of crushed red pepper.

It was in a word, a perfect combination of a thin crispy crust, light toppings and flavors that tasted fantastic, if I do say so myself. I guess that was more than a word, but anyway you get the point. The hand-tossing really seemed to make a difference in the texture of the crust. I'm going to have to work on my own dough recipe; can't continue using Joe as a crutch.

Actually, I don't think Denise was so impressed. But then she didn't have the crushed red. Go figure.


Blogger linda_lorton said...

You are making me hungry. Glad you are back on the blog. I always enjoy reading your stuff.

September 5, 2010 at 3:36 PM  
Blogger khanten said...

Someone told me that Trader Joe's pizza dough was hard to work with. True? I've avoided it because of that.

September 6, 2010 at 7:42 AM  
Anonymous DaWife DaNiece said...

Hmm. Will this be a forum for defending my culinary actions? True, I don't use crushed red pepper, but I did say, unsolicited, that I thought that was a great pizza!

September 6, 2010 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Hanten said...

I don't find TJ's pizza dough particularly difficult to work with. It's certainly easier than whipping up a batch of focaccia. I take it out of the fridge, throw it on the counter and let it warm up for about an hour before starting to work with it. You need to let it get up to about room temperature. After the hour, remove it from the package onto a floured surface and knead a little flour into it to get rid of the stickiness. I then roll it up in a ball and let it rest on the floured board for 5 or 10 minutes. Then I pound/stretch it out into a disc and then start tossing. If I'm in a hurry I just skip the tossing and roll it out with a rolling pin. Either way, you need to get it slightly over-sized for your pan, because it'll try to shrink back on itself. That's one of the reasons I like the mesh type pans. They help the dough hold its shaped. Hand tossing definitely seems to have a nicer texture than rolling, but rolling is quicker and entirely acceptable in my book.

September 6, 2010 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger BJackie said...

Good to know about the dough. I guess that was my booboo when i tried it once - didn't let it warm up enough. (Denise - I don't use crushed red pepper either. So I'll band w/ you in defending that culinary practice.)

September 7, 2010 at 7:04 AM  

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