If there’s one thing that I would like to become adept at in the kitchen, it’s pizza-making. Pizza is one of my favorite foods. I probably could eat pizza every day, no matter if it’s hot or cold, but my better judgment usually gets the best of me.
Most of the time when I get the craving, we have pizza from Mama Maria’s or Rhombus Guys, two restaurants that have done quiet well in the Best Pizza in Grand Forks competition that’s held each summer.
But last night, we ordered from Mike’s. And since it was Friday and we’re in the midst of Lent, we skipped the meat. The toppings we had were mushrooms, onion and green pepper. I hadn’t had a pizza from Mikeâ€™s in a while but in the past always had been pretty pleased with their offerings. This one didn’t disappoint me, either.
I guess when it comes right down to it, a vegetarian-type pizza is my favorite. That’s why the following recipe that I came across recently intrigued me. It’s called a Mediterranean pizza. The person who shared the recipe described it as having a light crust, bright sauce and array of colorful topping. And that would be right up my alley, since I put a premium on thin crust and a tasty sauce.
1Â¼ cups sparkling mineral water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Scant Â½ teaspoon salt
3Â½ cups (15.5 ounces) bread flour, divided, plus more as needed for kneading
In a large bowl, whisk together the water, oil, sugar and yeast. Set aside the mixture for 15 minutes to hydrate the yeast.
Stir in the salt and two-thirds of the flour, 1 spoonful at a time, to achieve a very soft dough.
Turn out the dough onto a well-floured board and continue kneading in additional flour until a soft, sticky dough is achieved. The dough should be very moist; the more flour added, the heavier the dough and final crust.
Place the dough in a large, greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set aside the dough until it doubles in volume, about 1 to 1Â½ hours. (While the dough is rising, make the tomato and pesto sauces, and assemble the toppings.)
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a floured board. Halve the dough and roll each half into a ball. Place on the floured board and lightly flour the tops. Loosely cover each ball with plastic wrap and set aside until almost doubled again.
1Â½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1Â½ teaspoons minced garlic
Â¾ cup diced yellow onion
1Â½ cups (9 ounces, about 4 whole tomatoes with sauce) canned plum tomatoes
1Â½ teaspoons tomato paste
Â¼ teaspoon salt
Â½ teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
In a medium saucepan heated over medium heat, add the oil, garlic and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, careful not to burn the garlic.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sugar. Cover the pan and gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the herbs.
Pass the sauce through a food mill, or puree using a food processor or blender. This makes 1 scant cup tomato sauce. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
2 small garlic cloves
1 teaspoon toasted pine nuts
Small pinch red chili flakes
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
Lemon juice, to taste
In a large mortar and pestle or using a food processor, grind together the garlic, pine nuts, chili flakes, Parmigiano and olive oil. Add the basil leaves, a few at a time, until they are incorporated and a coarse paste is formed.
Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with additional Parmigiano, lemon juice, pine nuts or olive oil. Thin as desired with a little olive oil.
Refrigerate the pesto in a nonreactive container with the surface covered with plastic wrap until needed; the pesto will keep for up to 1 day.
PIZZA AND ASSEMBLY:
Prepared pizza dough
Prepared tomato sauce
2 cups fresh grated mozzarella
Â½ cup crumbled feta
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Â¾ cup pitted kalamata olives
1 cup drained marinated artichokes
Prepared basil pesto
Place a pizza stone on a rack in the oven, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Roll out each dough ball to a 12- to 14-inch round and place on a floured pizza peel. Divide the sauce between the two rounds, ladling evenly over each round and leaving a 1-inch border around each.
Sprinkle the mozzarella and feta evenly over the pizzas, and garnish the top of each pie with the tomatoes, olives and artichokes.
Gently slide the first pizza on the stone. Bake until the crust is puffed and golden-brown, about 8 to 10 minutes (timing will vary depending on the thickness of the pie and heat of the oven). Remove the pizza and slide the second into the oven. Cool the pizzas slightly, then spoon the pesto over and slice. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 415 calories, 16 grams protein, 50 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 31 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams sugar, 692 milligrams sodium