Sunday, October 23, 2011

Maybe the Best Pizza Ever

I love pizza. Who doesn't? It's a pretty common weekend meal at my house, as it was last night, and this is the combination of ingredients I like the best. If you like meat on your pizza, I suspect Italian sausage or something similar would be great. But I like my pizza veggie-ful, and this MBPE pizza is the one I come back to the most. This pizza is so good that even though you get an entire, full-size pizza out of it, I find that it never makes more than about 2-3 servings.

I'm not going to lie to you - this takes some serious prep time. The sauce comes together in minutes, but the crust takes 2 rises (about an hour a piece), the peppers take about an hour to roast, and the onions take a good 30 minutes to caramelize. But you can mostly walk away while those things are happening (except with the onion caramelizing - that takes your fairly undivided attention), and the result is just plain wow. Your house will smell like a savory heaven. When you have some time, give it a shot. If you make extras of everything to store in the freezer, you'll be ready to go on your next pizza night.

The crust and sauce recipes are not mine. Instead, they're links to the best dang crust and sauce I've found, and that I've used forever, so why mess with perfection?

Yield: 1 thick crust pizza, roughly "medium" size
Start to finish: Hours if you're making everything from scratch, 30 minutes if you have things ready to go

Maybe the Best Pizza Ever
1 recipe Amazing Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
1 recipe Exquisite Pizza Sauce
1 C baby spinach leaves (or however much you have hanging around)
1/2 onion, caramelized (for great instructions and a video, see here)
1 red bell pepper, roasted and cut into bite-sized pieces (for roasting instructions, see here)
1/2 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, sliced into bite-sized pieces
Sliced olives (as many as you can handle)
1 C grated Italian cheese mix, or more if you prefer (my favorite is Tillamook's mozzarella/Parmesan/smoked provolone)

1. Get your crust ready.
2. Preheat oven to 425.
3. Place your toppings in this order to avoid burning: Sauce, spinach, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, olives, cheese.
4. Bake for 16-20 minutes. Crust will be baked, and cheese will be golden brown and bubbly.
5. Let the pizza sit for a couple of minutes so the juices settle, then slice and serve.

Zucchini Fritters

If you have any zucchini left in your garden, this is a great way to use them up. It takes a little time, but the results are well worth it. This is one of my favorite take-along picnic foods, but they're fantastic as a snack or light meal, too. They're wonderful dipped in marinara sauce.

Yield: 8-12 fritters
Start to finish: 45 minutes

Zucchini Fritters
2 T oil
1 onion, diced

2 medium zucchinis, grated (use the coarse side of a cheese grater)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 C seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 C shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Wrap the grated zucchini in a kitchen towel and twist to squeeze out all the extra moisture you can. You can do this by hand - just get as much moisture as possible out of the zucchini.
2. Saute the onion and zucchini in 1 T oil for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent.
3. Add the garlic, and sautee until all the remaining liquid evaporates (about 5 minutes).
4. Put the zucchini mixture in a large-ish mixing bowl, and stir in eggs, bread crumbs, Parmesan, and salt and pepper.
5. Add the remaining 1 T oil to your skillet. Place balls of zucchini mixture in the skillet and flatten somewhat with a spatula (or "pancake turner", if you're from that part of the country). I've found that using an ice cream scoop to make the balls gives me pancake-size fritters. If you'd like yours smaller, just scoop some of the zucchini mixture out with your hand.
6. Fry on both sides until golden brown, 1-2 minutes per side.