Monthly Archives: May 2012

The epiphany of homemade pizza

Hello friends, I have a sad confession to share with you. For 30 years, I’ve been scared to make my own pizza. Ok, maybe ‘scared’ isn’t the right word, but certainly ‘reluctant’, even ‘unwilling’. And, sure, there were probably some years somewhere between 0 and 10 that I didn’t think much one way or the other about making my own pizza. But since then it has always been a beloved and yet mystical substance that only restaurants (and occasionally my mom) could make. I rarely even considered making it myself.

Well, about three weeks ago I had an epiphany. A pizza epiphany. And ever since I have been a pizza-making fool.

broccoli rabe pizza

It all started a few weeks ago at the farmers market when the broccoli rabe showed up. I was SO excited. I absolutely love that Seattle farmers markets are open year-round, don’t get me wrong, but I had gotten a little board with the slim winter pickings, truth be told.

So, when the broccoli rabe showed up – one of the first spring veggies to appear in the stalls – I went a little crazy. One week, I bought three bunches of it on Saturday and by the following  Saturday there was still one poor, languishing bunch left in the fridge. I would not allow myself to waste this precious spring gift, however, so that day I cast a wider net than ever before in my search for recipes that use broccoli rabe. What I found…*drumroll please* was this recipe for Pizza w/Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Onions. It was right there all along, on one of my favorite food blogs! I decided to give it a try and let me tell you, it was a good decision.

broccoli rabe

I was flabbergasted at how good  it was. Flabbergasted and hooked. The next weekend I made pizza again, this time with different toppings. And you can guess the rest… Weeks worth of pizza later, I am here to share with you. I’m sorry I selfishly kept it to myself for so long. I could blame grad school, but it could also be (hypothetically speaking) that I was too busy eating pizza to type.

After several iterations of homemade pizza, I have isolated what it was about it that was frightening me: the crust. Pizza crust engenders such strong opinions – I’ve seen the argument of thin crust vs. thick crust nearly come to blows. Also, in all the movies and T.V. shows where you see people making pizza, they are always tossing it up in the air! I was always completely sure I am not coordinated enough to do that. Really though, it is surprisingly easy to make a crust that is the best of both worlds and will satisfy 90% of pizza eaters (100% in this house) without any tossing – or even very much kneading.

pizza crust

Now, I should make a small digression to note that I am aware that making pizza can be an art form. (My favorite pizza restaurant in Seattle, Delancey, certainly takes it to another level. I’ve also heard wonderful things about Serious Pie and am planning to go there as soon as humanly possible.) That is not what this pizza is, just so we’re clear. It is a totally acceptable substitute though – when you don’t want to go anywhere, want a home-cooked meal, or are considering just ordering delivery.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to my current obsession. First, I give you an easy crust recipe that makes enough dough to make two perfectly sized pizzas (you can freeze half the dough for later use, it freezes beautifully). The crust is thin, but still soft and chewy, and slightly sweet. The perfect accompaniment to the crust is the broccoli rabe toppings I list below, but go nuts! Use any topping combination your heart desires, you will not be disappointed. Below the recipe, I also list some other pizza recipes/topping combos that want to try. If you have a good combo, let me know!

pizza!

Broccoli Rabe, Onion, & Olive Homemade Pizza

Adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen and A Cozy Kitchen
Crust makes enough for 2 14(ish)-inch pizzas; toppings make enough for one piled-high pizza, or two slightly spartan pizzas.

I use instant yeast in my pizza dough because I like not having to wait as long. But, you can totally use regular active dry yeast in this recipe – you will just have to wait a little longer for the dough to rise. Also, a note on the olives: niçoise olives are the best for this combo, but I’ve used other types of cured olives and they all worked wonderfully.

Pizza Crust:
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl combine warm water, yeast, and sugar and stir to dissolve the yeast. Wait 5-10 minutes and allow the yeast to activate (you don’t have to do this with instant, but I’ve found that it moves things along).

Add the olive oil, and honey and stir until the honey dissolves. Then, add the flour and salt. Mix together until a dough forms.

Remove the dough from the bowl and, on a floured surface, knead 8-10 times or until it comes together into a smooth ball shape.

Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover with a clean, dampened towel. Place in a warm, draft-free place for 45 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cut in half. At this point you can freeze one or both of the balls by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap. Roll one or both to desired size, then transfer to pizza pan.

Pizza Toppings & Assembly:
  • 4-5 spring onions OR 2 shallots, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped off stems
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (depends on how spicy you want it – 1/2 tsp is pretty spicy, which we love)
  • Pizza dough for one recipe (above)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 5-10 niçoise or greek olives, pitted and chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Sauté onion over medium-low heat with enough olive oil to coat lightly, a pinch of salt, and the leaves of the thyme sprigs. Stir occasionally for 15-20 minutes until brown (even a little crispy is OK).

Heat a large sauté pan over high heat and coat it with olive oil. Add the broccoli rabe, season with salt, pepper, and the hot pepper flakes, and sauté until the broccoli rabe is tender (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic and sauté, tossing, for a 15-30 seconds.

While those two elements are working, roll out the pizza dough into a 12- to 14-inch disk of pizza dough and transfer to pizza pan. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil, leaving a 1/2-inch boarder dry.

Evenly sprinkle the cheese on the oiled surface. When the onions are done, spread them over the cheese, then top with the broccoli rabe and the olives. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil over the pizza.

Put the pizza in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the crust is brown and crisp. Remove the pizza from the oven, sprinkle with lemon juice, slice and serve.

Other scrumptious homemade pizza combos:
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