Not so long ago I ate dinner at Co., the New York pizza place 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. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it in the weeks since that dinner, so what's a pie-loving gal to do but make her own version at home?
I admit, my pizza lacked the height and slightly charred presentation of Lahey's Popeye Pizza — I'm sure his ovens do a better job of flash-cooking both the crust and the spinach than mine does, even with the heat cranked as high as it would go. But it was really the combination of flavors that I wanted to mimic anyway. Also, after eating Lahey's pizza, I realized there was no reason to precook the spinach. A big mound of fresh leaves will cook down in no time.
I used Taleggio on this pizza — it's a nice, melty cheese that works well on pizza, but adds a more grown-up flavor than mozzarella. The white beans got involved because I had a few leftover from a previous dinner, and I think they're keepers!
For the crust, feel free to use a ball of store-bought pizza or your favorite recipe. Here's our favorite pizza dough recipe on The Kitchn!
1 pound pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
2 to 4 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup white beans, like navy beans or cannellini
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 5 ounces Taleggio cheese, or other soft cheese
1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese
4 ounces fresh spinach or baby spinach
Preheat the oven to 550°F, or as hot as it will go. If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven on a rack in the bottom third of the oven. If you don't have a baking stone, place a baking sheet on the rack to heat with the oven. Heat the oven for at least 30 minutes before baking.
Roll out the dough and transfer it to a floured, rimless cookie sheet or a pizza peel, if you have one.
Spread a couple teaspoons of olive oil over the dough, then evenly scatter the white beans and garlic over top. Slice or pinch off pieces of the Taleggio and scatter them over the pizza, then grate a little Parmesan over the pizza.
Toss the spinach in a large bowl with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and set aside. (Because it's hard to slide a heavy pizza off 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, it's best to transfer the pizza to the hot stone or baking sheet before adding the spinach.)
Gently shuffle the pizza onto the baking stone or baking sheet. 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.