Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Pizza and tossed salad

I heart radishes!

So, the Bat and I made pizza, last evening. Most of the time, she makes the dough for the crust, and I come swooping in and throw stuff on top of it at the last minute, before it gets made into a meal... we cheated, yesterday, and used store-bought crusts -- one of the recognizable brand name, and two of a relatively unknown name. Both were very good, of course, but not as good as had we followed the "secret family recipe" she adapted from her Chicago-Style Pizza cookbook (she likes the Uno's recipe). Fresh crust always wins that contest. But shortcuts are encouraged, if you have a crowd or if you have time constraints

Since we had company, we had three pizzas. Bat likes putting a ton of mushrooms, olives and cheese, and not much else, on hers. Pop likes a lot of meat, so we pile on the Italian sausage, pepperoni and onions. Me, like a non-red-sauced pizza with loads of vegetables, and, if we have any, a little roasted chicken (I prefer dark meat, but this week, the local market had bone-in, skin-on breasts on sale for $o.98 per lb, and the thigh meat was fully thirty cents more. And these were great honkin' breasts, at that. So, chicken hooters it was.

I also had to chop an onion, a couple of sweet bell peppers, and a few other items, so, as I was already doing the work, I opted to make a tossed salad to accompany the 'za. Why waste a perfectly good half-pepper, if it won't fit on the bread? Also, we'd been to Aldi the other day, & found a box of "artisan lettuces"... a couple of butter varieties and some other spiky variants of the mizuna family. It clearly meant must use. There's nothing like a big bowl of cool greens to go with a platter of garlic-laden goodies! Naturally, I dragged out a few other vegetables to go into the bowl: celery, radish, coarse-grated carrot, cauliflower (broken apart into slightly-smaller than bite-sized chunks), bell pepper, finely chopped scallions, and chunks of fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes. I was only sorry I had no avocado in the house!

But then, maybe that would have been too much... it doesn't even need dressing, this way.

As it was, the pizza was filling and kept everybody happy -- my own pizza was a hit with Pop and the guests (not enough left over for breakfast, darn it!).

So, here's what I did for mine:

Pesto Pizza

one of your choice of 12-inch (or so) crust (I prefer extra thin & crispy, but since we were cheating & using store bought, & the Bat took that one for hers, mine this time was on a "regular" crust)
Extra virgin olive oil to brush crust
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms, quick-stir-fried in butter
1/3 cup pesto sauce (your favorite. I usually decide which one to use the moment I'm beginning assembly)
2/3 cup ricotta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1/3 sliced sweet bell pepper
1/3 cup or so sliced sweet onion
1 medium tomato, sliced thinly
1/2 cup chopped chicken, cooked

Preheat oven to 425ยบ F.

In a hot frying pan or wok, drop a tablespoon or so of butter, and, when melted (before the butter starts to smoke), stir in mushroom slices. Cook until golden but not crisped. Set aside.

Precook (or open package of) your favorite pizza crust. Brush generously with olive oil, even (especially!) the edges. Spread pesto over the surface. Crumble ricotta cheese (yes, it's soft, so you can spread it with a spatula, but it will mix in with the pesto sauce, then, so be prepared for that, if you do).

In a strainer (or with your bare hands, if you're feeling macho), press as much of the liquid as you can from the thawed spinach. Spread thinly over surface of pizza. Cover with mozzarella cheese. Arrange the rest of the toppings to satisfy your sense of esthetics.

Bake in hot oven 10 minutes, or until cheese bubbles and begins to brown.

Allow to cool only a minute or two before serving.

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