Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Pizza

Roasted Vegetable Flatbread with Goat Cheese (from Edible Austin)

A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Jen and Alex Jackson for a profile in Edible Austin. The couple has since moved on to San Francisco (Bay Area friends, our loss is your gain!), but they were delightful to meet and chat with. I hope you’ll check out the profile here.

I was also privileged to recipe-test the flatbread that Jen and Alex shared with us for the magazine. That was the best part!

Roasted Vegetable Flatbread with Goat Cheese (Edible Austin)

I did this when eggplant, peppers and tomatoes were still bounteous, as was that peppery summer arugula, but luckily Jen and Alex provided us with a few seasonal variations that would be perfect for right about now (butternut squash, with sage and caramelized leeks, plus a great sheep’s milk cheese, anyone?).

This version, though, with summer veggies, creamy goat cheese and eggs cracked right over the pizza, is to die for, and will definitely be back on our table next summertime!

Roasted Vegetable Flatbread with Goat Cheese (from Edible Austin)

I will tell you that, although the dough is a little time-consuming to make, it is hands-down the best I’ve made in my own kitchen (and I’ve tried quite a few!). Head over to Edible Austin to read the profile and grab the recipe, and I do hope you’ll try it out yourself!

Easy Margherita Pizza + No-Knead Dough

I’ve been experimenting a lot with pizza lately. Although there is a special place in my heart for grilled pizzas, with the weather turning cooler (at least in theory), and with my pregnancy-fueled love of all things carb-y, I am turning more toward a thicker crust and an oven preparation. I’ve tried several recipes recently — Chicago-style deep dish pizza (recipe to come, once I’ve perfected it), a flatbread recipe that’s to die for (more on that soon) — but this one just may be my favorite.

Easy Margherita Pizza (with No-Knead Dough)

I was so excited when I saw Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for “lazy pizza dough” — it’s a no-knead dough that you basically mix and forget about until it’s time to stretch, top and bake. She gives options for an overnight, all-day or part-day rise, but I’m going to give you the part-day rise here, since it’s the only one I’ve tried (and it worked beautifully). We also seem to have lost our pizza stone and peel somewhere in the cross-country move (18 months or so ago… which goes to show you how often it got used), so, with some trepidation, I baked this pizza on a well-oiled baking sheet. Guess what? It still tuned out crispy and delicious. So, no special equipment required!

nora pizza

Plus, it’s Nora-approved.

Easy Margherita Pizza
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
For the dough:
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp (slightly heaped) active dry yeast
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1¼ cups warm water
For the pizza:
  • olive oil for greasing pan
  • 1 14.5-oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz mozzarella (aged, not fresh), grated
  • 2 oz parmesan, grated
  • several fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Instructions
For the dough:
  1. In a large non-reactive bowl, mix the flour, yeast, salt and water. The dough will be craggy, but should come together pretty well. If necessary, you can add another tablespoon or so of water.
  2. Once all ingredients are incorporated, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 6 hours, until more than doubled in size. (See the original recipe for overnight and all-day rise options, if that timing works better for you.)
For the pizza:
  1. When the dough is almost ready, make the sauce and prepare your toppings. Preheat the oven to 500°. Oil a rimmed baking sheet generously with olive oil.
  2. Combine the crushed tomatoes, garlic cloves, salt and crushed red pepper in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and shape it into a ball.
  4. Flour the top of the dough ball and, using well-floured hands, grab one side of the dough and let it stretch down, repeating several times.
  5. Place the stretched dough onto the prepared baking sheet and stretch and spread it with your hands until it is roughly 9 x 13 inches in size (stretching almost to the edges of the pan).
  6. Top with approximately ½ cup of the sauce, spreading evenly (reserve the rest for another use). Sprinkle the mozzarella over the sauce, and top with the parmesan.
  7. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is puffed and the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, turning once to ensure even cooking.
  8. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the basil leaves. Cool slightly, then slide onto a cutting board and cut into pieces. Serve warm with a salad, and enjoy!

 

Grilled Pizzas with Spinach and Ricotta

I love making my own ricotta. I know it sounds nuts, but (as I have gone over ad nauseum by this point) it really is ridiculously easy, and so very much better than store-bought. It’s just a matter of bringing some milk (with a little buttermilk and cream added) to a boil, watching it separate into curds, and then scooping out the cheese. Voila!

ricotta

The other night, I made a batch of ricotta intending to serve it along with spinach and a light cream sauce on pasta, but I changed plans at the last minute. It was a ridiculously gorgeous day, and it seemed almost a crime not to fire up the grill. We had some frozen pizza dough ready to be quick-thawed and used, so I conscripted the hubby as soon as he got home to roll out the dough and grill some pizza crusts.

I sautéed some spinach and sliced some fresh local mozzarella from Full Quiver Farm. We topped hubby’s signature herb-garlic crust with the spinach, mozzarella and a few dollops of ricotta,  and threw it back on the grill to finish cooking. A sprinkle of crushed red pepper sealed the deal.

spinach pizza

It was so good we repeated the whole thing a few nights later, when my in-laws were in town to visit. In place of the spinach, though, we had delicate broccoli fresh from our garden, and we added caramelized onions (always a favorite).

The spinach, mozzarella and ricotta, though, was a classic, and one that we’ll definitely be repeating around here. I’m going to give you the recipe for the whole darn thing, from pizza dough to ricotta, so hang on to your hats!

Grilled Pizzas with Spinach and Ricotta
Author: 
Recipe type: pizza, cheese
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
For pizza crusts (based on a recipe from The Cook's Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue):
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 4 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting hands and work surfaces
  • 1 envelope (2¼ tsp) instant yeast
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1¾ cups warm water (110°)
For the ricotta:
  • 4 cups whole milk (preferably organic, pastured milk)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
For toppings:
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus additional for the pizza crusts
  • 1 bunch spinach, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • Fleur de sel or kosher salt, to taste
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • crushed red pepper, to taste
Instructions
Prepare the dough (see my pizza dough tutorial for step-by-step instructions and photos):
  1. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary and saute briefly, until fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. Place the flour, yeast, salt and garlic-rosemary mixture in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix briefly to combine on low speed. Slowly add the water and continue to mix on low speed until a cohesive mass forms.
  3. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled deep bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour to an hour and a half.
  5. Press the dough down with your fist and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to divide the dough into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a smooth, round ball and cover them with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 5 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes.
  6. Working with one ball of dough at a time and keeping the others covered, flatten the dough ball into a disk using the palms of your hands. Starting at the center of the disk and working outward, use your fingertips to press the dough into a round about ½-inch thick.
  7. Use one hand to hold the dough in place and the other to stretch the dough outward. Rotate a quarter-turn and stretch the dough again. Continue turning and stretching until the dough will not stretch any further. It should be about ¼-inch thick. Use the flat of your palm to press down and flatten any thick edges.
  8. Transfer the dough rounds to lightly floured baking sheets, and cover with a damp cloth until ready to use.
For the ricotta (see [url:1]this tutorial[/url] for more information):
  1. Fold a length of cheesecloth so that it's four sheets thick, and set it in a colander in the sink.
  2. Bring the milk, buttermilk and cream to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Keep watch over the mixture, stirring occasionally, until you see the curds start to separate. When this happens, turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to scoop the curds into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Keep scooping under all you've got left is a light-yellowish liquid (whey).
  3. Sprinkle the cheese with a little kosher salt and let it drain for about 5 minutes. Use immediately, or store in the fridge in an airtight container.
For the pizzas:
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet, and add the spinach. Saute until wilted but still bright green. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Sprinkle the top of each prepared crust with olive oil and kosher salt, and, using your hand, quickly flip the crust onto the grill. Cook on one side for 5-8 minutes. Move once in the first 30 seconds or so to make sure it doesn’t stick to the grill, and stab a few times with a fork once bubbles start to appear. Turn over and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Top the fully-cooked side of each pizza crust with a couple of mozzarella slices, spinach and a few dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if desired.
  4. Grill the pizzas until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the crust is done, about 5 minutes. Slice and serve warm.

 

 

Leftover Extravaganza

“Tis the season. You know, the season of lots and lots of leftovers. Do you have them? At this point, they are just hanging out in the fridge, begging to be used ASAP or tossed. Here are a few tasty ideas that will hopefully help keep you from feeding a post-feast feast to your compost pile.

  • Sweet potato waffles. We added a nice hefty scoop of leftover sweet potato casserole (topping and all) to our favorite waffle batter.
    sweet potato waffles

    Breakfast time!

    Not only were they excellent,  the leftover waffles freeze well so that you have quick breakfast for mornings to come!

  • Bon Appétit’s Thanksgiving leftovers slideshow has a bunch of excellent-sounding recipes, including pumpkin flan (a great use for that partial can of pumpkin you have in the fridge).
  • Brussels sprouts pizza. Yeah, seriously. We had this for dinner the other night and it was so good. We already had some leftover grilled pizza crusts in the freezer, so it was quick and easy to throw together (the hubby finished them off on the grill).
    brussels sprouts pizza

    Eat your veggies!

    My vegetarian version included halved roasted Brussels sprouts, mozzarella and manchego cheeses, sautéed spinach and a sprinkle of fleur de sel and crushed red pepper. The hubby’s version included Brussels sprouts, bacon and mozzarella. Both were delicious (or at least so I hear).

  • Cranberry brie bites. I stumbled across these on Rufus’ Guide to Food and Spirits, and I must have them now. What an awesome use of leftover cranberry sauce (which is plentiful in my fridge right now).
  • Mashed potato cakes. Obvs. I wrote about this one yesterday, and it was tasty.
  • Stuffing stuffed mushrooms? Yes please!
  • Last but not least, here are a bunch of ideas for all that leftover turkey from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe and A is for Austin.

Happy blogiversary to me!

It has been a year since my first post. How time flies! But, at the same time, it seems like I’ve been writing this blog forever. Funny, that’s just about how I felt on Nora’s first birthday. I simultaneously couldn’t believe she was already a year old, and felt like I had been her mommy forever and couldn’t imagine life without her.

Not that I’m likening my child to my blog… Well, maybe just a little bit. Taking care of both of them has become a labor of love. Nora, and writing about food and life with Nora and other miscellany, have both brought richer meaning to my life.

In honor of my first blogiversary, I am making a list, in no particular order, of my 10 favorite posts from the past year. Enjoy, and please let me know if you’ve tried any of the recipes out — I’m always looking for creative feedback.

1. Black bean burgers — finally!

I have to include this one, solely because it took so long to puzzle out what I think is the perfect recipe. Who needs frozen Gardenburgers when you’ve got these babies… and even quinoa burgers for a change of pace now and then.

2. 10 Easy Salad Ideas. This has been a really popular post, and I’m happy that people seem to have found inspiration for lunches here. Kudos to my friend Melissa for making a special request for this post, and for test-driving several of the recipes.

3. Pasta with Sun Gold tomatoes.

I don’t know what it is about this pasta, but it is just about my favorite tomato dish ever. The Sun Gold tomatoes (which grow like crazy in our back yard) have the sweetest, mildest flavor, and the sauce is so silky and delicious.

4. Grilled pizzas.

I’m psyched that my whole wheat dough came out well, and I love being creative with toppings. Grilled pizzas just may be my favorite meal!

5. Vanilla jasmine martini.Of all the drinks I’ve tried over the past year (and with Cocktail Thursday, there have been a lot!) this is my favorite. It’s such a lovely, elegant flavor.

6. Vegetarian cassoulet.

I just like that this is a classic dish, vegetarianized… and not in a way that leaves you missing the meat. I also love that it’s winter comfort food, and that it takes a long time (but most of it non-active time) to make.

7. On Choosing. I have to include this one for sentimental reasons. I spoke from the heart, and I’m glad that my daughter will someday be able to look back and know how I came to live this particular part of my life the way I have.

8. Pumpkin pancakes.

So good. Such excellent, excellent breakfast-y goodness. I can’t wait until it’s fall again.

9. Grown-up mac and cheese.

I am a noted mac-and-cheese enthusiast, and this is my favorite. It’s all grown up… and delicious. I have to mention, as an aside, that Nora has started asking for “mac” by name, at least a couple of times a day. She truly is my daughter.

10. Broccoli cheddar bites.

I haven’t made a batch of these in a while, but I really should. Nora loves them, and I love to sneak a couple off her plate, too! They’re super-simple, freezeable, and one of my most popular recipes.

It has been quite a year, and going back through these posts has really brought it all back. Thanks for coming on this journey with me, and here’s to more years to come!

Grilled pizza with eggplant

Before we moved away from Northern California, my favorite pizza place was Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria,* and my favorite pizza there was called the Boston. It was simple pizza with fried eggplant and mozzarella, plus a little tomato sauce. Add some crushed red pepper and dip the crust in ranch dressing, and it was a great, indulgent meal. What it has to do with Boston, I never quite figured out.

*Yes, on the West Coast.

My sister-in-law and her husband were in town a couple of weekends ago, and we had lots of eggplant from our CSA box, so I decided to broil some as a pizza topping. Grilled pizzas are, of course, our favorite casual meal for guests, since everyone can customize their own. I made a pizza for myself with just a smidge of tomato-basil sauce, the broiled eggplant, a handful of shredded mozzarella, and some basil from our garden. It was delicious.

Yes, please.

Recently, the hubby duplicated the experience for a super-easy weeknight dinner. I had a committee meeting and didn’t make it home until after 9, but there was a pizza waiting for me! He had breaded and pan-fried the eggplant this time, but otherwise followed the same recipe, using crusts we had made ahead and frozen. What a great meal to come home to!

I have since found a great new pizza place in my neighborhood, with the hands-down best vegetarian combo I’ve ever tasted (spinach, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, garlic, and mushrooms with a white sauce), but at least now when I’m craving a little eggplant pizza, I can make my own!

I don’t really do recipes for pizza, but if you want to see what the fuss is all about, broil or fry some eggplant and give it a try! Just slice the eggplant thin and lay it out on doubled paper towels. Sprinkle it with kosher salt and allow it to stand for 30 minutes. Blot off the moisture with paper towels, and then broil until golden brown on both sides.

Grilled pizzas

Since it is Memorial Day weekend, what better way to celebrate than by firing up the grill (and putting the flag up, of course)? As a vegetarian, it can be more challenging to come up with a really great meal to make on the grill, but my all-time favorite is grilled pizzas.

Last night we made pizzas with caramelized fennel and onions, goat cheese, asiago, and arugula, and they were absolutely delicious.

Come to mama.

The other one is a grilled potato, sundried tomato, and mozzarella pizza — it was good, but not as awesome as the main one. The real star was the goat cheese: local Pure Luck chèvre.

Oh yeah.

The caramelized onions and fennel were also awesome. Hubby sliced the onions and fennel bulbs thin, and then caramelized them in butter and olive oil in a cast-iron skillet.

This is the stuff.

He also whipped up a sundried tomato and anchovy paste for a couple of the pizzas, which was a great addition.*

*Yes, I tried it. Nope, not vegetarian — I occasionally eat fish.

This was a super-easy meal, since we made and froze the crusts last weekend, and once the fennel and onions were caramelized, there was really no more prep work other than topping the pizzas and throwing them on the grill to finish.

Ready for the grill!

I tried my hand at from-scratch pizza dough for the first time last weekend (hubby is usually on dough duty), and I was thrilled with the results. Since the process can be a bit tricky the first time you do it, I am including a photo tutorial on how to stretch and shape the dough. Once the dough is made, you can check out this post on how to grill the pizzas, and more a few more topping ideas. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Adapted from a recipe for Garlic-Herb Pizza Dough in The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue

2 cups bread flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour, plus extra for dusting hands and work surfaces
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups warm water (110°)

Place the flours, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix briefly to combine on low speed. Slowly add the water and continue to mix on low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled deep bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour to an hour and a half.

Press the dough down with your fist and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to divide the dough into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a smooth, round ball and cover them with a damp cloth.

Ready for a little rest.

Let the dough relax for at least 5 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes. Working with one ball of dough at a time and keeping the others covered, flatten the dough ball into a disk using the palms of your hands. Starting at the center of the disk and working outward, use your fingertips to press the dough into a round about 1/2-inch thick.

Getting into shape…

Use one hand to hold the dough in place and the other to stretch the dough outward. Rotate a quarter-turn and stretch the dough again.

Stretch it out…

Continue turning and stretching until the dough will not stretch any further. It should be about 1/4-inch thick.

Nice and thin.

Use the flat of your palm to press down and flatten any thick edges. Transfer the dough rounds to lightly floured baking sheets, and cover with a damp cloth until ready to use.

Ready for its close-up.

Don’t forget these can be partially cooked (stop when you’d ordinarily put your toppings on) and then frozen to use later. We always do this with any extra crusts, and it makes for a wonderfully easy dinner later!

Oasis in the desert

We just finished a weekend with our friends Bob and Leslie, who have a vacation home in La Quinta (near Palm Springs in the Coachella Valley). Not only do they have a beautiful home with plenty of room for the three of us to stay, they share our taste for good food and good wine, and they are pretty much the best hosts I have ever met. The wine is always flowing, they are both fantastic cooks (who don’t mind accommodating my vegetarian preferences), and there is a hot tub and pool in the back yard. What more could you want?

After two days on the road, this visit was just what we needed. We put Nora to bed* the first night and then sipped wine and munched on olives, almonds, and a cheese plate while Bob and Leslie cooked.

*In her travel crib in a walk-in closet. It was dark and cozy, and insulated from noise.  I am a good parent, I promise!

Nibbles.

I offered to help several times, but was told, basically, to fill up my wine glass and shut it, so that worked for me!

Don't mind if I do.

Dinner that first night was Eggplant Marrakech, made using a recipe from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. It was phenomenal. Bob added some roasted spicy peppers (grown right there in his yard, no less), and the heat was the perfect counterbalance to the sweetness added by the raisins.

Sweet and spicy.

The second evening, after a busy day of sightseeing and lounging by the pool while the little one napped, we grilled pizzas for dinner. My favorite combination was the mushroom, olive, and tomato with mozzarella, but the prettiest entry (which was also very tasty) was the fennel, mushroom, pesto, and goat cheese pizza.

Gorgeous noms.

On Sunday morning before we left, they bid us bon voyage with a Cretan cauliflower omelet from a cookbook they picked up on their recent trip to Greece. It was delicious. Plus, we even left with cuttings from Bob’s fig trees to start in Texas, and some of Leslie’s homemade jams.

Lovely parting gifts.

This was a bittersweet visit for us, since Bob and Leslie embody pretty much everything we’ve loved about living in California. The wine, the food, the gardening… that’s pretty much the California lifestyle, to me. Ah, well. Hopefully we can do some California livin’ in Texas!

Pizzas on the grill

So, you know that fall-ish weather I was talking about a week ago? Not so much anymore. It has been in the 90s here for the past few days. I don’t know why Indian Summer always surprises me, but it does. Fall is such a tease.

In any case, the other day we decided it was too darn hot to cook inside, so we scrapped our previous meal plan (cauliflower mac and cheese) and made grilled pizzas instead. Pizzas on the grill are one of our summer staples, since they’re easy, tasty and versatile. As luck would have it, a few weekends ago we had a get-together at our house and made a ton of dough ahead, some of which was already chilling in the freezer, pre-grilled and ready to go.* We also happened to have plenty of awesome tomatoes on the counter, basil growing in the yard, and some shredded mozzarella, so pizza margherita was a given.

Tomatoes. Om nom nom.

* This is one of Pat’s favorite tricks, since making the dough is the most time-consuming part of grilling pizzas. He uses Cook’s Illustrated’s recipes for wheat and herb pizza doughs. Trader Joe’s also makes great refrigerated pizza dough that’s ready to use, which takes one step out of the process.

We also had a head of radicchio in the fridge, and the CSA newsletter suggested quartering and grilling it and serving it with a nice drizzle of balsamic vinegar and some shaved parmesan.

Good stuff.

It was great as a starter salad, but the interior was a little bitter. The outer leaves were tender and wonderful with the balsamic, though, so maybe it just could have used a little longer on the grill.

We had quite a large head of radicchio, and the hubby was feeling inspired, so we also made a couple of pizzas with grilled radicchio, balsamic vinegar, just a sprinkle of mozzarella and shaved parmesan.

Dinner is served.

Using a great balsamic vinegar is key. It’s expensive, but worth it, since a little goes a long way.

Hello, gorgeous.

Although hubby is the pizza chef, I’ll pass along his secrets for the public good. Prepare the dough on a well-floured surface, and then sprinkle the top with olive oil and good salt. Heat the grill to medium-high heat, and using your hand, quickly flip the crust onto the grill. Cook on one side for 5-8 minutes. Move once in the first 30 seconds or so to make sure it doesn’t stick to the grill, and stab a few times with a fork once bubbles start to appear. Turn over and cook for about 2 minutes. The second side will be undercooked, but that’s okay. Add your toppings** to the well-cooked side, and then put it back on the grill to finish cooking. Voila!

** One of our favorite combinations is sautéed greens, garbanzo beans, mozzarella, parmesan and harissa. Good stuff.

Grilled pizzas are great for casual parties, too, since everyone can make their own. It both reduces the cooking burden on the hosts and makes sure everyone gets what they want. Win-win!

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