Monday, April 20, 2009

Greener Pastures

One of my favorite go-to dishes when the weather turns sunny and warm is a light and fresh pizza. There's little effort involved since I don't bother with thinking about making the crust from scratch and instead buy a ready to bake whole wheat organic crust from my local market. Instead of coating it in tomato sauce and cheese I kick the sauce to the curb and cover mine in summer veggies and a variety of tasty cheeses. It's a great way to showcase what's in season without cooking the tar out of it and still maintaining delicious crunch. Not to mention you can easily fool picky eaters like kids into getting their daily allowance of green veggies and dairy. It's also a great dish to make on a busy day after work. I had all of my ingredients chopped and ready to go by the time the oven was all warmed up. And if you've got a little more free time, your little ones can even get in on the fun by helping arrange ingredients on top of your base (mine were both cheese).

My first pizza started with a delicious ready to bake herb crust, slathered with a few drops of olive oil and sea salt. Then I spread a thick layer of tangy goat cheese over it and topped the whole thing with with thinly sliced spinach, before dotting the pizza with salty, spicy salami. I made sure to reserve some uncooked spinach so I'd get the delicious flavor of cooked spinach, along with the crunch and nutrients of the raw greens. After it was baked and topped with the raw spinach, I coated the whole thing with a thin splosh of olive oil and another sprinkle of sea salt. My second pie (these were fairly small, 10 inch pies) still had a cheese base, this time the milder, softer, ricotta, because I'd be pairing it with olives and olive paste. I mixed a quarter sized dollop of olive paste with the ricotta to use as a base (also over olive oil and sea salt), then studded the pizza with roughly chopped kalamata olives and thinly sliced spinach, also reserving a few raw strands for garnish and crunch after baking. I topped this one with olive oil and sea salt when it was done as well and called it a day. 

There's no real recipe here today since this is such a free form idea. The toppings and combinations can be changed to suit your own preferences or what's in season in your community. You don't even have to use cheese as a base at all, you could simply make it a veggies only pizza and use tomatoes, sauce or simply olive oil and salt. Pile it up like a BLT, or use it as a vehicle to clean out your crisper, either way it'll be simple and delicious. You could even just top it with leftover hummus, some olives, a dusting of paprika and a sprinkle of olive oil and parsley or mint. The possibilities are endless, as is the base. I've done these with large focaccia for pizza bianca and even pita bread or naan for a more middle eastern flat-bread flair. Try one this spring and let me know what you come up with!


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