Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A quick plug for pizza

I love it when meals sort of just come together without too much thought.

The other night, as I wandered through the aisles of Whole Foods in the early evening, after my workout, I remembered why you're not supposed to go shopping when you're hungry. Everything I saw looked tempting. Interestingly, though, I wasn't thinking, "I want to eat this right now." I was thinking, "Oh, wouldn't it be nice to make something with this over the weekend." One thing that ended up in my cart was an on-sale ball of mozzarella from Maplebrook Farm in VT. Pizza, I thought dreamily, as I ambled down the aisles.

And on a chilly Saturday afternoon, pizza it was. In the afternoon, I made pizza dough, this white wine and honey version from Smitten Kitchen. Since pizza dough is so easy to make (I did it while talking to Alex on the phone, though my Kitchen Aid mixer did most of the kneading) and since it keeps so well in the fridge, I made a double batch, enough for 2 small to medium pizzas.

With the blessings of my basement freezer, I still have some frozen sauce made out of garden tomatoes, so I thawed a quart out and then cooked it down til it was thick. (Man, was it tasty, even all these months later. Last summer, I didn't make as much sauce as usual, so I've been guarding it protectively, but now I'm even more determined to return to my previous rate of excessive summer sauce production.)

In another moment of supermarket whimsy (and sales), I had a bag of spinach leaves in the fridge. It had been buy one-get one free, and I'd used the first bag to make a spinach frittata. I suddenly remembered the pizza recipe I've made most in the past, a deep dish spinach pizza from Jane Brody's Good Food Book (which I don't use that often but which has a few keepers that I still go back to). Usually, I make it with the thick crust and with smoked mozzarella, but I wanted to use my pizza stone, and I didn't want to use my whole batch of dough for the thick crust.

But I decided to make pizza in the spirit of that, so I sauteed the spinach with some garlic in a little bit of olive oil. After I rolled out the dough, I spooned on the sauce, then the spinach, then the grated mozzarella, then arranged some red pepper slices decoratively on top of it. There were a few panicky moments, such as when I accidentally set a dish towel on fire. (Really. It had been covering the bowl of dough, which I put on the top of the stove while I was pre-heating the oven. I guess it was a little bit too close to the flame when I turned the burner on under the spinach because all of a sudden--poof! Thankfully, there was a pot of water sitting in the sink, so I just picked up the towel by the non-burning end and dumped it into the pot. The smoke alarm didn't even go off, and the towel maybe could have been salvaged, though I dumped it.)

I'm not posting a real recipe because this was so thrown together. One thing that's fun about pizza is its improvisational possibilities. Once you've made the crust (or bought one already made from someplace) and procured some sauce (from the freezer or from a jar or from a couple of cans of tomatoes sitting on your pantry shelves) and grated some cheese, whether it's Maplebrook Farm mozzarella or not, the possibilities are endless. But Deb at Smitten Kitchen has posted multiple thorough posts about pizza, and I've found them a good resource. Search for pizza on her site for others.)

The pizza went into the oven on the pizza stone for 10 minutes, and voila. (I still don't have a pizza peel, so I'm relying on parchment paper for pizza transport but I'm now pondering pizza peel possibilities.) My kitchen was a mess, no doubt, and I was down one kitchen towel, but I was up one delicious pizza and the promise of another one in the days ahead. Nothing to complain about there.

1 comment:

Caroline said...

I'm with you about pizza. When it's cold, we do it in the oven, when it's nice out, we grill it on the barbecue. It's a great family meal, too, since you can give everyone their own little ball of dough to top it their own way.