This is the first in our new series of guest posts from fellow bloggers and cooks. This first guest post comes from Leela Cyd. Welcome Leela!
There is a certain, ahem, restaurant that resides in malls all over the US that has a pizza flavor that sticks out to me. We would go here as kids, always with family friends, and I’d order my pizza without red sauce (how absolutely sophisticated, I thought, as I twirled my side ponytail) and sip lemonade with the gusto of a wee Italian girl. This place was California Pizza Kitchen. And though I stopped seeking out CPK a while back, I developed a hankering for simple pies with toppings other than tomatoes.
Which leads me to a few nights ago and the bounties of spring.
Asparagus, onions, tiny red potatoes with skin smooth as a baby, giant dill plants, arugula – the spring is a fantastic eating season. I adore the flavors and all of the combinations of crunchy, fresh foods. With the arrival of all the lush greenery down the Portland streets and hillsides, it seems very appropriate to be consuming more and more greens on the plate.
This meal brought D to silence. We munched, sipped iced green tea and reveled in my talents. There is a great feeling in sharing a meal that leaves your companion speechless. Try it out, soon, my friends! It’s very easy too. . .
Pizza Crust (makes enough for 2 medium/large pizzas and you can freeze half, defrost it in the fridge for a day or two and it’s still perfect!)
1 package rapid rise yeast 1 tsp agave nectar 1 c warm water 1 tsp salt 1 1/4 c whole-wheat flour 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour extra flour for rolling splash of olive oil
Method: combine yeast, agave and warm water into bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Mix flours and salt into mixer and add water/yeast mixture. Stir with dough hook for approximately 5 minutes (until a tidy ball is formed), then let rest with a clean dishtowel over bowl for at least 30 minutes, up to 8 hours. Splash ball with a little olive oil if not using immediately. Set half aside for pizza blanco and save other half for later or make another pizza – perhaps with tomato sauce after all…
Toppings for Pizza Blanco 1 large onion, chopped and caramelized (I cook these slowly over low heat, as I’m preparing everything else) salt, pepper glug of olive oil 2 small, boiled red potatoes sprigs of dill 3/4- 1 c white sauce 1 bunch arugula, lightly dressed in olive oil and vinegar
White Sauce * makes a little extra, lovely for dipping crudites 1/2 c tahini 1/2 c hummus (homemade or your favorite store bought) 1/4 c hot water 1/4 c apple cider vinegar 1/4 c olive oil
Mix all ingredients vigorously, until even consistency is achieved. Add a bit more water if it seems too thick. Season with salt and pepper. I like loads of salt and pepper, but use your own discretion.
Method: Preheat oven to 475-500 degrees, as hot as your oven will go! Prepare sauce, caramelized onions and boil potatoes. Set these ingredients aside. Roll out dough on floured surface, with a bit of cornmeal for some tooth (it will still work without the cornmeal, if you don’t have any). Roll it as thin as you can. Smear the white sauce all over, generously. I like a little lip on my crust, so I roll the ends in about 1/2 inch – but you can roll out totally flat, if that’s how you like (My Dad does it like this.) Slice boiled potato as thin as possible. Spread caramelized onions all over pizza, and then sliced potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Generously salt and pepper the pie. Place onto peel (or inverted cookie tray, as I don’t have a peel) and slip onto preheated pizza stone in hot oven. Bake for about 9-10 minutes, broiling for one extra minute to get that crispy crispiness. Sprinkle with fresh dill. Enjoy with arugula on top, if desired. It wilts a little and is quite a lovely contrast. While traveling in Rome, I noticed most of our pizzas were served with a bright leafy green.
Roasted asparagus and sliced avocado make a beautiful compliment to the pizza blanco.