Friday, September 10, 2010

Pizza Play

SLO Farm has been offering a special variety of roma tomatoes called San Marzano, which are supposed to be especially good for making sauce. I decided to try these in a simple tomato sauce for pizza.

I cooked garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil, and then added diced tomatoes and a sprinkle of salt. The tomatoes cooked down into a fragrant sauce in just 15 minutes.  

I added in a handful of fresh basil and oregano leaves (both grown from starts purchased from Dr. Bert Boyden's garden stand, Bert's Dirt, an occasional vender at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market). Then I blended these together with an immersion blender to make a smooth tomato sauce. It was absolutely delicious and hard to resist nibbling while we prepared the pizza dough.

Pizza making is a favorite pastime in our household, because the dough makes such a good substitute for play dough. I use a dough recipe from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, with a little course corn meal added for texture. Together with my kids, we mixed up the dough,

and took turns kneading it and shaping it into a butterfly,

a sea snail,

and an octopus.

When everyone had had their fill of sculpting, we kneaded together the dough and let it rise for a couple of hours.  One trick is to do all the kneading and playing on a big silicone baking mat, which I then use to loosely wrap the dough for rising.  This makes handling the dough easy and clean up a snap, with no dough to scrub off the table top.

We all have different approaches to pizza toppings. My seven year old daughter likes her pizza with a thin film of sauce and a sparse scattering of mozzarella cheese,

which she then folds up into a "pizza pocket" or small calzone.

My two year old son likes as many toppings as possible. He's especially partial to sauteed mushrooms and prosciutto.

I'm a fan of sliced red peppers, artichoke hearts, and a few anchovies.

No matter what the toppings, all pizza tastes delicious right out of the oven, and with the fresh San Marzano tomato sauce, these ones were out of this world.

Homemade pizza

For the sauce
A dozen roma tomatoes, diced
1 large clove garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
generous pinch of salt
6 basil leaves 
one spring of fresh oregano

1. Cook the garlic and red pepper flakes briefly in olive oil. Add diced tomatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes until they cook down into a sauce. 

2. Add fresh herbs. Puree with an immersion blender.
Makes enough for about 4 pizzas.

For the dough
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup course corn meal
3 cups white flour
1 cup warm water

1. In a large bowl, combine yeast with 1/4 cup warm water.  After a few minutes, mix in salt, olive oil, corn meal, and one cup of flour. Alternate mixing in warm water and flour until the dough comes together. Add a little more flour or water as needed.

2. Turn dough onto silicone mat or tabletop and knead and sculpt until it has a nice, elastic consistency. Return to bowl, loosely wrapped in silicone mat, or covered with a dish towel, and let rise for a couple of hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees, and put in a pizza stone if you are using one. Divide the dough (can make two medium sized pizzas) and roll it out. Transfer it to a pizza peel or baking sheet covered with a sprinkle of course corn meal to prevent the dough from sticking.  Cover the dough with a layer of tomato sauce, desired toppings, and sliced fresh mozzarella cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Be careful not to burn your mouth when you take your first bite.

Topping suggestions
1. Margherita (a great way to savor this delicious tomato sauce): tomato sauce, a few leaves of basil, fresh mozzarella.

2. Tomato sauce, sauteed mushrooms and prosciutto, and fresh mozzarella.

3. Tomato sauce, sliced red peppers, frozen artichoke hearts (thawed in a splash of white vermouth) and a few anchovies, and fresh mozzarella.

4. Pesto sauce, with sliced pears and walnuts and goat cheese.

5. Sauteed swiss chard, caramelized onions, and crumbled gorgonzola.

1 comment:

Renee said...

Wow! That looks delicious!! I love the fun sculpting animals you made. I think we'll have pizza tonight.