Sunday, March 20, 2011

friday night pizza

I'm on spring break for the next week, so my goal is to blog every day--I definitely have plenty of pictures backed up.

On Friday nights I often feel like "junk food" to wind down the week and kick off the weekend.  Sometimes it's a burger or nachos.  Last week it was pizza.  As spring creeps out of hiding more and more, I find myself wanting to eat more fruits and vegetables.  On the other hand, it's still chilly at night and I want something hearty.  So, I made a vegetarian pizza, but one with enough heft to fill me up.  Meaty veggies like zucchini, eggplant, roasted peppers, or mushrooms are a must.  This one involves roasted marinated mushrooms and zucchini.  The marinade with its soy sauce for salt and maple syrup for sweetening may sound a little crunchy-granola, but trust me, it gives the whole thing a lot of depth.  The recipe is from a whole foods (and I think vegan?) cookbook, so the original recipe didn't include cheese, but--hey--this is Wisconsin.

I am typically not ambitious enough to make my own pizza dough on any night of the week, but I am certainly not in the mood on Friday nights.  I'd tried various flatbreads and pre-made crusts with some success, but I really liked the pita-marketed-as-pizza-crust from Kontos that I tried this time. The chewy, crispy crust was topped with the rich and tangy roasted and marinated veggies, a smoky and garlicky sauce, and melty fresh mozzarella.  It was a hit and will certainly reappear in the summer when the vegetables are available locally.

My only complaint is that the zucchini left a bit of unwanted liquid behind under the cheese, so next time I would squeeze out some of the excess water before placing it on the pizza.

Rustic Tomato Thin Crust Pizza with Roasted Zucchini, Portobello Mushroom, and Red Onion
slightly adapted from The Balanced Plate by Renee Loux

Try this with a sprinkle of aleppo pepper or some peperoncini and a nice beer like New Glarus apple ale!

3 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried (optional)
1 large portobello mushroom or 5 baby bella (crimini) mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Black pepper
2 round flatbreads (6"), 2 tortillas (9"), or 1 large flatbread (9'-12')
1/2 c tomato sauce, purchased or homemade (see below for recipe)
2-4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced

1/2 c thinly sliced red onion
6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat the broiler.  In a small bowl, mix together 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, the garlic, balsamic, soy sauce, maple syrup, and thyme (if using).  Pour over the mushroom and toss to coat evenly.  Let stand for 10 minutes or more to absorb and develop flavor.

In a separate bowl, toss the zucchini with 2 tsp of olive oil.   Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Place both the mushroom and zucchini on a baking sheet under the broiler until browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  When cool enough to handle, gently press on the zucchini with a paper towel until the vegetable has released most of its excess water.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Brush one side of the bread or tortillas with the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil.  Place the oiled side face down on a baking sheet or pizza stone.  This will make it crisp nicely.  Spread the sauce evenly over the bread or tortillas, leaving just a 1/4" border at the edge.  Distribute the mushroom and zucchini evenly.  Cover with the mozzarella slices, then sprinkle the red onion slices and cherry tomato halves over the top of the cheese.

Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.  Let cool enough to cut and serve.

Quick Tomato Sauce

28-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil

Drizzle about 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan.  Heat on medium heat, then add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, until beginning to brown.  Add can of tomatoes with juices and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is mostly cooked off and the sauce is thickened.  Add salt if you like.

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