Fall is finally in the air. I’m excited for fall fashion, the beauty of nature and some restorative hikes, though I never like what the cooler weather portends. What I noticed about season changes is that renewed feeling of never knowing what’s in store for you. I had no idea last year, as the weather was changing that I had a year ahead of me in Mexico, learning a new culture, understanding privacy laws in a case at work that seems to be never-ending, discovering new people and foods. You head into a season vaguely knowing what you want out of it and what you get is often a surprise, for better or for worse. It’s sometimes amazing the lack of control you have over life. But you can guide it by consistently being yourself, by understanding what you need and want and with a little bit of drive. Then you just have to buckle down for the adventure or lack thereof and make it your own.
Being back in one place for more than two weeks, I’ve been cooking up a storm. I normally pride myself on an amazing lack of foresight when it comes to certain things, but this pizza has been calling to me. It actually requires just a bit of pre-preparation in that it takes a day for the dough to rise. Other than that, it’s pretty easy to throw together. I’ve been craving pizza and my other version of this was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten so I figured it was high time to use the dough as a blank canvas for this season. Once you’ve got the dough you can use whatever you have around to build a solid and satisfying pizza. The possibilities are endless.
We’re right in the sweet spot for end of summer produce, tomatoes, figs, arugula, but also early fall squashes, even some artichokes. It’s seriously the best time of year for eating. I opted for a combo of garlic, basil/arugula pesto, caramelized red onions, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and shredded Romano, but you can really do anything with this. I added an egg for fun. You can roll it out and make it a thin crust pizza, but I actually wanted something really thick and doughy so I went for a smaller, Vermont-shaped type deal (I believe they call this rustic) and got a nice thick base for all of the carefully prepared toppings.
I hope you’re all having a good beginning of fall. Have a wonderful weekend!
PESTO, ROASTED GARLIC, TOMATO, NO KNEAD WHITE PIZZA
For the Dough:
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp honey
For the Garlic Paste*:
- 2 bulbs garlic
- 1-2 tsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling during roasting
- pinch crushed red chili pepper
*You can make this the night before when you start the dough.
For the Toppings*:
- 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
- 2 cups arugula, finely chopped
- oil for sautéing
- 1 cup basil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup shredded romano and/or mozzarella
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- 1 egg (optional)
*You can make any of these the night before when you start the dough.
For the Baking:
- about 1 tbsp cornmeal, or however much is needed to prepare baking surface
- 1-2 tsp olive oil, for brushing the dough before topping
For the Dough:
In a large bowl, sift together flour and salt, then add the yeast, water and honey and stir until it forms a sticky dough. (Proofing the yeast isn’t required in Lahey’s recipe or most adaptations of it).
Cover bowl with plastic and keep at room temperature for approximately 18 hours, or until the dough has more than doubled. ( Note: If you have rapid rise yeast, use a little less than 1/8 tsp. It will work like a charm).
For the Garlic Paste:
About an hour before the dough is ready, start by roasting the garlic. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice off the top of the garlic bulb so that each clove is exposed. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over top, rubbing each clove to make sure the oil is well-distributed, then wrap in foil and bake for 30-40 minutes. The garlic should be soft when pressed when it’s done.
Take the roasted garlic and pop out the cloves by squeezing, or with a fork. Combine garlic with one teaspoon olive oil, sprinkle of crushed red pepper and mash with a fork until it becomes a paste.
For the Caramelized Onions:
While the garlic is baking caramelize the onions. I do this by heating oil over medium-low heat in a large cast-iron skillet or saucepan, and spreading the onions in a single layer evenly across the pan. Let the onions sizzle in the pan for at least 30 minutes, but up to 50, stirring no more than once every 5-10 minutes. Once onions are soft, brown, nearly jammy, and sweet, they’re done. Drizzle a little bit of balsamic vinaigrette over top for extra flavor.
For the Pesto:
In a food processor combine arugula and basil with a little salt and olive oil and form a paste.
When the dough is ready, prepare your baking surface by sprinkling it liberally with flour or cornmeal. I also used parchment paper to avoid sticking. You can make two mini pizzas, but I made one big one with thick dough this time that’s kind of shaped like Vermont. I baked on a baking sheet. No need to preheat the baking sheet. Preheat your oven to its hottest setting, about 500-550F.
Scrape the dough out of your bowl onto a well-floured surface. Parchment paper helps. It should be quite sticky and soft. Flour the top of the dough, then divide the dough in half and form them into ball shapes. If you’re baking these one at a time, cover one ball of dough with a damp towel while you prepare the other.
Gently press, shape, and stretch the dough into a flat circle or rectangle however you like. I’m all about the “rustic” shape. I think we’re aiming for two 10 inch circle-type shapes or one larger pie.
Brush a small amount of olive oil over the dough, then spread the garlic paste in an even layer across it. Spread the pesto over it. Sprinkle desired amount of cheese over that, then your caramelized onions, tomatoes, a handful of arugula, mozzarella and an egg. Crack it right in the middle, making sure it doesn’t run, and the heat will cook it perfectly. Add more cheese as desired and put in the oven.
Bake at 500 for 10-12 minutes, or until the pizza reaches your desired brownness and crust kind of bubbles. Enjoy all of your efforts and no need to tip the delivery dude.