Sustenance – pizza
Recipe: Cherry tomato pizza margherita
One of my favorites. I consider this is a highly refined recipe, one of the very few I follow almost literally. Good cherry tomatoes,sautéed gently until they begin to break down a bit, make an example of how tomatoes can be wonderful and refreshing, rather than a dreary requirement. The fennel seed is very distinctive. Putting the tomatoes on in "dollops" makes for a dish that has different tastes and textures from one bite to the next.
I don't agree with cooking for 25 to 30 minutes, though. Five or six is my mode.
- 4 oz mozzarella
- 3 oz. very good Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago
- 4 oz. clams
- Plenty of parsley
- Option: some walnuts
- Option: a tiny bit of red pepper
Gently sautée clams in a little olive oil, using a baster to remove excess liquid. (They exude a lot of water in cooking, and could turn a crust into a soggy mess.) Chop a clove or two of garlic fine, and add it to the cooking clams at the last minute, or else put it into a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Grate the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, separately. Shape the crust and brush with oil. Then add cheese, parsley, drained clams, and red pepper or walnuts as desired.
- A cup or so of chopped parsley
- A quarter cup of chopped walnuts
- About 4 oz. of sharp cheese, such as Fontina or Parmesan; or Swiss
- Olive oil
Roughly chop the parsley and grate the cheese. Mix the two and spread over an oiled crust. Top with the chopped walnuts.
This is a cousin of the recipe for clam pizza, which loses nothing by going without the clams – it becomes something very good on its own.
- One or two apples, perhaps sour such as Granny Smith
- Variant: peaches (perhaps even better)
- 4 oz. of blue cheese
- 2 oz. mozarella
- option: a bit of leafy green (arugula, tarragon, or a small amount of rosemary)
- option: bits of prosciutto or bacon, or almonds
- olive oil
Peel the apples and cut them into thin slices. You may briefly sautée the apple slices in olive oil if you like, or put them on top of the cheese uncooked and brush with oil.
Garnish lightly. The interaction of the apple and blue cheese tastes should be the highlight. This recipe also works very well with slices of tart plum, or pluot.
A marvellous pizza. Who would have thought of putting traditional Portugese and Chinese ingredients into an Italian dish? Other soft cheeses may be sustituted for the goat cheese. Brie (see below) is a very good choice. I chop the ingredients much finer than shown in the illustration and cook in the oven, not over a grill.
Recipe: Brie and olive pizza
It would not have occurred to me to use Brie in a pizza, but the result tastes natural. It's a good example of how something from another context – Brie smeared onto a baguette – can be transformed and used in a different context. Curiously, the recipe is also reminiscent of a hot dog with mustard and tomato relish. But it's much better.
I used the usual pizza crust rather than the pie crust specified in the recipe.
This is a "mature" recipe, in the sense that it doesn't have exuberant innovation, but does have an unusually good balance and counterpoise of flavors. Don't skimp with the quality of the Gruyère.
- 4-6 oz. of good Gruyère (not cheap "Swiss")
- Kalamata olives, slices
- Half of a radicchio, sautéed gently in a little olive oil
Recipe: Butternut squash pizza
This is a rich and luxurious dish. It really justifies the adjective "mouth-watering." The recipe is courtesy of my colleague Andrea.
There are minor variants in the version shown in the picture. It happens to be tomato season, for instance, so I used fresh tomatoes rather than canned ones.
- 4-6 oz. of Brie
- half of a radicchio
- two slices of prosciutto, chopped
- pizza dough
Sautée the radicchio in olive oil until it softens. Slice the prosciutto into thin strips. Shape the pizza dough and brush with olive oil. Spread the cheese, then the cabbage and bacon bits. Add spices if you like, such as fennel or a little red pepper.
You could substitute red cabbage for the raddichio, bacon bits for the prosciutto, and perhaps a sharp cheddar for the Brie. There is a similar recipe in Epicurious. With use of Gruyère cheese and a garnish of mustard, it becomes much much like a Reuben sandwich.
- A chicken thigh
- A couple large cloves of garlic
- 4 oz. mozzarella
- Optional: parsley or basil
Cut the chicken thigh into small pieces and sauté them in olive oil. Add the minced garlic toward the end. Place the mostly cooked mixture on the grated mozzarella and top with herbs of your preference.
*The MGH Food Service makes a popular chicken garlic pizza, but it uses more prepared ingredients than my kitchen does.
Recipe: spinach and ricotta pizza
A very small sprinkling of red pepper is a good addition.
Recipe: Grape pizza with Gorgonzola
This is quite good, with the grapes sautéed a bit and some white wine added. I used some fresh oregano, which made for a good contrast. I did not add sugar; the grapes are quite sweet enough by themselves.
Recipe: Foccacia pizza bianca
This is a good example of a pizza bianca. I use fewer potatoes and less olive oil than shown here and omit the garlic. It's a very good pizza with just the basics of this recipe.
- A couple of small endives
- ¼ cup of pomegranate seeds
- A head of garlic
- 2 ounces of sausage, such as kielbasa
- Some almonds
- 4 ounces of Fontina
- Olive oil
Cut the top of the garlic, wrap it in foil, and roast in the oven as part of preheating the pizza stone. Meanwhile, gently sautée the sausage and endives, separately. Grate the cheese.
Oil the crust, add the cheese, then put on the other toppings. Obviously, you can make all kinds of substitutions. I enjoyed the idea of having ingredients of Italy, Poland, Belgium, and the Middle East – now of course mainly produced in our own melting pot of a country.
Recipe: Pear pizza
I cook this in the oven, not over a grill. Manchego cheese is very good. Fontina is another possibility. One pear is about right for a 12" pizza.
I cook this in an oven, not over a gas grill. I preroast the eggplant, in ½" slices, once the oven is hot. I am a parsley fan but don't use it in this dish.
I like to use a somewhat sharper cheese, such as a mixture of well-aged provolone and mozzarella.
- 1-2 cups of arugula
- Prosciutto (or bacon, or walnuts)
- A few ounces of ricotta cheese (or mozzarella, or goat cheese, or some mixture)
- Olive oil
There are various recipes around. I sometimes sauté the arugula,, sometimes chop it and mix it with the cheese, sometimes just put it on top and spray it with olive oil - if I happen to have a mister around that isn't clogged up.
I like to have dollops of cheese rather than a uniform spread, so one bite is different from the next.
- 4-6 oz. mozzarella
- grated Parmesan
- a cup of kale, lightly steamed
- a couple of pieces of bacon, chopped
- red pepper
Steam the kale lightly. Brush olive oil over the crust and cover with the grated mozzarella cheese, then the kale. Garnish with bacon bits, Parmesan, and a bit of hot red pepper.
- 2-4 oz. mozzarella
- 2-4 oz. soft cheese such as ricotta or goat
- 2 peaches
- fresh thyme (alternate: fresh basil)
Peel and stone the peaches, and cut them into thin slices. Put dollops of cheese on the pizza crust, arranged for variety. Top with peach slices and thyme. (This may sound like a weird combination, but it works really well.)
A variant, which also works extremely well, is to use Gouda cheese and fresh basil.
- 6 oz. Fontina
- 1 ½ or 2 dozen cherries
- a spoonful of sliced almonds
- fresh thyme
Pit and halve the cherries, and chop the thyme fine.
This could have been made with ricotta… that would have been rather like a cherry cheesecake. The slightly piquant Fontina seems to be a good match.