Monday, February 3, 2014

Friday Night Pizza: Salad Pizza

We have homemade pizza every Friday night: cheese pizza for the kiddos and a "grown up" pizza. Some grownup pizzas that we've had are Bacon and Jalapeño Pizza, Hawaiian (Ham and Pineapple) and the always popular "Garbage" or Loaded pizza...lots of veggies and meats. The kids will sometimes relent and let me put pepperoni on their pizza, but they've been known to request pepperoni, then pick it off once it's on their plate. Sigh. As long as there are no hissy fits, I don't comment on that. :)

The recipe looks long, but it details how I cook my pizzas. I feel like I have perfected homemade pizza for my family, enough to rival our favorite delivery pizza, so that nobody feels like it's "just" homemade pizza. It's damn good.

I need to write a big post about my pizza process with photos, but the keys are:
1. A really hot oven with ample preheating time to get a pizza stone hot. I use this Pampered Chef stone (without handles) that I got as a wedding gift. I preheat my oven to 500º at least 30 minutes before I start rolling out my dough. This is not a summer cooking process - use your grill in the summer to save your AC bill!
2. Cooking the pizza directly on the hot stone. Using parchment paper makes it easy to slide it off. I've tried to use cornmeal to slide it off, but it was tricky and not always successful. Those pizzas became big calzones after they got stuck and flipped onto themselves. There was lots of cursing that night. Parchment paper is cheap pizza insurance.
3. Kosher salt. See this post on salting food. It looks like alot of salt, but I swear, it works.

The dressing for this salad was fantastic, and this recipe makes more than you will probably need. I just stash the leftover dressing in the frig and use it throughout the week.

Salad Pizza
recipe adapted from Dinner: A Love Story

Your favorite pizza dough - I used this easy recipe
2 tablespoons or so olive oil
Pizza sauce or tomato sauce
Kosher salt

Salad dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Pinch dried oregano
Pinch black pepper
Big pinch kosher salt

Salad ingredients:
1 small head lettuce, or about 4 cups mixed greens
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 large roma tomato, chopped
1/4 cup large diced red onion

Preheat oven to 500º with a pizza stone in the oven. It is better to give the stone a good 30 minutes (or longer if you have the time) to get really hot and evenly heated. Roll out the pizza dough with a rolling pin or with your hands, and lay it on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Top the dough with olive oil and either spread with your fingers or pastry brush to cover the dough surface. Spread with your preferred amount of pizza sauce - I usually go a little light on it. Grab a healthy pinch of kosher salt and salt the pizza with your hand about a foot in the air for even coverage.

Open your oven, and slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone by pulling the parchment paper onto the stone. Bake 10 or so minutes, until the crust is bubbled, the sauce is hot, and the crust is browned to your preference. I don't set a timer since it varies with the dough's thickness. I pick one of the boys to sit in front of the oven and direct them to let me know when the pizza is bubbling.

While the pizza is baking, combine the salad dressing ingredients in a shake top jar. Combine the lettuce, tomato and onion in a large bowl and toss with the salad dressing.

Remove the pizza from the oven by pulling the parchment paper and slide the pizza back onto the cookie sheet. The parchment paper will probably be browned (see photo above). Let cool for a couple of minutes, then cut into pizza slices. (It is much easier to cut the pizza BEFORE adding the salad) Top the pizza with the dressed salad, and serve.