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.
--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.