A couple of weeks ago, we ate dinner at Co., a new pizza place in New York owned by Jim Lahey (he of the Sullivan Street Bakery and No-Knead Bread). There's a pie on the menu called the Popeye that comes with a mountain of crispy, leafy spinach on top. We tried a similar version at home with our new favorite pizza dough recipe (more on that below), and these were the results...
Our pizza lacks the height and slightly charred presentation of Lahey's Popeye—we're sure his ovens do a better job of flash cooking spinach than ours—but it was the combination of flavors that we wanted to mimic. Also, we realized after eating Lahey's pizza that there was no reason to pre-cook the spinach. A big mound of fresh leaves will cook down in no time.
Taleggio is a nice, melty cheese that works well on pizza but adds a more pungent flavor, which we liked, since the pizza was meatless and sauceless. The white beans got involved because we had a few leftover from a previous dinner.
As for the crust, it's the recipe that ran in The New York Times Magazine about six weeks ago. Dana tried it for her stovetop/broiler pizza, and we wholeheartedly recommend it. If you have a standing mixer, it's almost foolproof.
1 ball of pizza dough (see recipe link above) olive oil 2 cloves of garlic, minced 4 to 5 ounces taleggio, sliced or pinched off into small bits 1/4 cup white beans parmesan cheese 4 ounces fresh spinach (we used baby spinach leaves)
Preheat your oven and pizza stone to 550 degrees.
Roll out the dough and transfer it to a floured, rimless cookie sheet or a pizza peel, if you have one. If you are using the recipe above, you'll have a 12- to 14-inch pizza.
Spread a couple of teaspoons of olive oil over the dough, then evenly scatter the garlic, taleggio, and white beans. Grate a bit of parmesan over the pizza (you should need very little, about an ounce). Toss the spinach in a large bowl with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Because it's hard to slide a heavy pizza off of a cookie sheet or peel, and because you're going to have a mound of loose spinach leaves that tend to fly off when you shake it, transfer the pizza to the hot stone BEFORE adding the spinach.
Once you've transfered the pizza to the pizza stone, pull out the oven rack (if you haven't already) and gently mound the spinach leaves in the center of the pizza. Close the oven and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until the crust is brown on the edges and the spinach is wilted.
Stay tuned for more pizza inspiration coming later this week!