PIZZA! Who doesn’t love a crusty pizza pulled right out of the oven. Maybe not from a wood fired brick oven, but with a pizza stone and your oven pre-heated to the highest temperature before baking you can nearly replicate the Italian village baker’s “la pizza rustica” right in your own kitchen.
Pizza dough is the key to success here. Getting it just right so that the dough is elastic enough to “stretch” into a perfect round is no easy feat! But using a proven pizza dough recipe that you are familiar with avoids the pitfalls of getting the pizza into the oven without a hitch and coming out of the oven with an airy blistered crust. Unless you are a seasoned master in the art of pizza dough making, and I am not one of them, I highly recommend seeking out an expert’s advice. Nancy Silverton’s pizza dough recipe in THE MOZZA COOKBOOK is, hands down, the best recipe I have used (available online). It is a slightly more lengthy process than most recipes, first making a sponge, meaning fermenting some of the flour before you proceed with making the pizza dough. But trust me; the results are well worth all the effort, with step by step explanations that inform you as you progress. Success is assured.
The recipe that follows is what you might find wandering through southern Italy and easy enough to assemble once you gather all the pizza toppings together and plan your layout in advance. Of course, feel free to adapt with what you have on hand in your own kitchen or from your garden. Pizza is a wonderful palette to work with so… unleash your creative self!
Summery Pizza with Grilled Vegetables
Prepared in advance:
grilled vegetables and flame roasted Italian red/yellow peppers (posted in Basics)
Onion Garlic Puree (posted in Basics)
Preheat oven to 500F/260C or as hot as you can get it for at least 30 minutes with a pizza stone placed on the oven floor.
Makes 1 10 inch pizza
- flour and semolina for dusting
- 1 pizza round, about 10 inches
- olive oil for brushing
- 1/3 cup onion garlic puree (posted in Basics)
- 5 grilled eggplant rounds (posted in Basics)
- 5 grilled zucchini (Posted in basics)
- 5 Italian red or yellow flame roasted peppers strips, skin peeled (posted in Basics)
- 3 anchovy filets, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 thin slice of red onion, separated into rings
- 1 teaspoons capers, rinsed
- 1 teaspoons fresh marjoram leaves (or other herb)
- 5 mozzarella cubes, 1/2 inch square
- a pinch of chili flakes
Form your pizza round as directed in your pizza dough recipe. Place on a lightly floured pizza peel or baking sheet dusted with a little semolina. The semolina will facilitate an easy slide onto the pizza stone.
Brush about 1 inch of the rim of the pizza with olive oil. Lightly spread a thin layer of the onion garlic puree over the surface of the pizza dough and arrange the roasted vegetables and Italian red or yellow peppers evenly over the onion garlic puree. Add the anchovies, distributing them evenly. Place the onion rings scattered evenly across the surface. Add the capers and marjoram, and dot the top with the mozzarella cubes. Add a pinch of chili flakes scattered over the surface.
You are now ready to slip the pizza onto the pizza stone. Give the pizza peel a forward backward reflex motion to be sure the pizza is going to slide easily off the peel and onto the pizza stone. If there is any resistance, use a spatula to loosen any sticking points and add some more semolina under the dough for good measure! Open the oven door and slide the pizza onto the pizza stone.
Cooking time will vary depending on the heat of your oven, but somewhere between 8 to 12 minutes should produce a crispy blistered crust and the surface of the pizza should be just slightly bronzed with pools of melted mozzarella.
Slide the pizza peel under the pizza and remove it from the oven. Slice straight across the pizza at a right angle to make four wedges using a large knife or pizza wheel.
Serve at once!