Saturday, September 19, 2009

Zucchini Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Sunday, September 13, 2009

If you've been frequenting your local farmers' markets this summer, you'll probably not be surprised that I was searching for something to use some of the zucchini and tomatoes that I bought in the morning. I turned to two of my favorite cookbooks--The Italian Baker for the pizza dough and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone for the topping. You could use any pizza dough, of course--both Rose and Peter Reinhart have excellent ones--and figuring out the zucchini topping isn't rocket science. But I'll include both recipes in case you want to try these specific ones.
The pizza dough is simple enough: just yeast, water, flour, olive oil, and salt.

Mixed until the dough becomes "soft and satiny but firm."

Pizza dough is so easy! Why didn't we all grow up eating homemade pizzas? It just has to rise a little bit, get shaped, and rise a bit more. It takes no time. And the beauty of this recipe is that it makes enough dough for two pizzas, each of which is more than enough for two people. Now I have a round of pizza dough in the freezer, which is better than having a bird in the hand. Really, a lot better, as I think of a bird squirming in my hand and pecking me.

I was planning to use a rolling pin to shape the crust, but it didn't work too well.

So I shaped it with my hands, which worked just fine. It was easy to work with, and it didn't develop cracks or holes.

Then I daringly put the dough on a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal. No pizza pan, no parchment paper--just the naked pizza dough touching the naked peel. I knew what was coming up soon: slide the unbaked pizza onto the red-hot baking stone. Many, many things could go wrong at this point, which is why I've never tried it before, but I was feeling very devil-may-care, so I did.
Meanwhile, I made the topping, which was also easy. Lightly sauteed zucchini,

quartered cherry tomatoes, mixed with garlic, salt, and olive oil,

and sliced fresh mozzarella and crumbled goat cheese.

and snipped basil.

Amazingly, the step that involves sliding the prepared pizza dough onto the hot baking stone went off without a hitch.

When it's done--in about 15 minutes--you can drizzle on some olive oil and a bit more fresh basil.

Delicious! The crust was crisp, chewy, but still tender. The vegetarian topping was flavorful and very fresh-tasting, with just the right amount of cheese.

Pizza Dough

--from The Italian Baker, by Carol Field
Makes one 15- to 16-inch pizza, 2 medium-size, or 5 or 6 individual pizzas.
1 3/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
3 3/4 cups (500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. (8 grams) salt

Stir the yeast and sugar into the water in a mixer bowl. Stir in the oil with the paddle attachment. Mix the flour and salt and add to the yeast mixture. Mix until the dough comes together. Change to the dough hook and knead at medium speed until soft and satiny but firm, about 3 minutes. Finish kneading briefly by hand on a lightly floured surface.

(You can also mix the dough by hand or in a food processor).

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until not quite fully doubled, 45 minutes to an hour.

Shape the dough into whatever shape you want, being careful not to tear it. Place it on a peel that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Finish shaping the dough with your fingers. Cover with a towel and let rise for no longer than 30 minutes. The dough should be puffy and softly risen.

Top with any filling, including:

Zucchini with Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

--from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison

1/2 recipe pizza dough, above
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
Olive oil for sauteing, plus more for the top
Salt and pepper
About 4 ounces cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced
2-4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 ounces goat cheese, grumbled

Preheat oven to 500.

Saute zucchini in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and beginning to color, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and toss them with the garlic, a little olive oil, freshly ground pepper, and half the basil.

Distribute the cheeses over the prepared dough, then add the tomatoes. Bake on a stone for 5 minutes, then add the goat cheese and bake for another 5-6 minutes. Remove, drizzle with a little more olive oil, and sprinkle on othe rest of the basil.


Doughadear said...

I totally agree that making pizza at home is easy and so incredibly good baked on a pizza stone.
This pizza looks so appetizing! Everything about it is prefect and I can almost taste it. I've had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year and I wish I could have given you my cherry tomatoes, they are so sweet.

breadbasketcase said...

Maybe your mother made pizza for you? The closest we came was a pizza mix that came in a box (Kraft, I think), and it had a flour/yeast mix, a can of pizza sauce, and some grated cheese.
I also wish you could have given me your cherry tomatoes, but the ones I got were very good.

jini said...

this looks fabulous marie. i LOVE pizza.....most every variety of them. i have a couple of recipes i like for the crust, but i am going to try this one. it looks yummy.
i used a bunch of our tomatoes to make fresh tomato sauce for pasta this afternoon.

Anonymous said...

That is a great looking pizza.

We have homemade pizza every Friday night as a family affair. My kids love it. I always make a large batch of dough to freeze in portions (do this before letting it rise). I take out just the amount needed for pizza the night before to rise in the fridge. I've tried several recipes, Peter Reinhardt's and 2 different ones from Fine Cooking. I've settled on a mix with the addition of about 25% whole wheat flour. We like the nuttiness it imparts to the dough.
The tomatoes are fabulous right now - so fresh on pizza and lots made into sauce for the winter.

Sue in Ottawa, Canada

Doughadear said...

My mother is an incredible cook yet pizza was not part of her repertoire, actually I don't think she ever made anything with yeast. Maybe it was a Northern Italian thing because our Southern Italian neighbours made pizza all the time and it was quite good. Also, I just remembered that when I was in Italy my cousins would make pizza from a boxed mix.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on becoming a "Peel Professional"!!
Now you know how it works, you just need to clean up all that corn meal.

Thanks for the inspiration to get that stone out again and fire it up.


breadbasketcase said...

Yes, pizza crust is much easier than you might think, isn't it? Lucky you--burdened with an excess of fresh tomatoes.

Your family probably won't appreciate how lucky they are until they're off on their own and realize that no one is making them pizza every Friday night. A reader suggested to me that I try grinding my own whole-wheat flour because it's never bitter that way. If I ever get around to doing that, I think I'll make a whole-wheat pizza crust (or at least partially whole wheat) my first project.

I'd be interested in trying an Italian boxed pizza mix--just for fun.

It was a mystery to me how I could put just a tiny sprinkling of cornmeal on the peel and end up with at least twice as much to clean up.

Melinda said...

Hmmm, pizza. It looks so good!

breadbasketcase said...

Thanks Melinda. Not to rush you or anything, but are you still planning to re-start you blog in September. It's September 22 today. I miss you!

printable coupon said...

Mmmmm! pizza looks so yummy!!

Melinda said...

Restarted yesterday! I made a cake.
I miss you, too. x

Hipsipila said...

Glad to read you again, Mary!
You seem to have so much fun baking (even in spite of possible disasters), that it gives me courage to try new recipes fearlessly.
Now, I want to bake pizza! Maybe this weekend...

breadbasketcase said...

You're right--I do have fun baking. Ever since I accepted the fact that there might be disasters, it's been more fun!

printable coupon said...

Mmmmm! that pizza looks so yummy!

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ said...

Nothing compares to making pizza at home. Especially when it turns out as good-looking as this one. Delicious toppings!

breadbasketcase said...

I agree. I think I could eat pizza at least twice a week for a good long time before I'd get tired of it.

pinknest said...

Your pizza looks beautiful! I really need to start making more of my own pizza dough. We hardly ever do. The last time I bought a frozen dough from my favorite market, and it was pretty disappointing.

breadbasketcase said...

You would be an inspired pizza baker!