Having spent much of my week in meetings, I find myself home alone on Friday night desperately attempting to catch up on emails and a couple of writing projects. This is not as bad as it sounds when you consider the fact that I went a little overboard on the ramps during Monday’s farmers’ market expedition and had the foresight to pick up a ball of pizza dough on my way home this afternoon.
It seems that Friday night pizza is officially a thing.
Ramp, Feta & Mint Pizza
- 10-12 ramps, dirty ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small ball pizza dough
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 20 or so fresh mint leaves
- salt and pepper
- Turn your oven up as high as it will go and remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator.
- Bring a large cast iron skillet up to medium heat with the butter. Add the ramps, placing the bulb ends in the skillet and draping the greens, which will cook faster, off the side. When the bulbs are starting to brown, flip the ramps over, When the other side has some color, slide the greens portions in as well. Flip one more time to cook the greens thoroughly, sprinkle with a little salt and set aside.
- Give the skillet a quick rinse and pop it in the oven. When the oven is pre-heated, remove the skillet and swirl a little olive oil inside.
- Slowly stretch your dough into a circle approximately the size of your skillet by working your hands around the edges, pulling gently and allowing gravity to assist. Place the dough in the skillet, drizzle a little more olive oil on top and then spread the ricotta cheese in a layer. Add some black pepper, the ramps and the feta cheese.
- Pop the pan in the oven and let cook for 7 to 11 minutes until the edges of the crust are browned. Sprinkle the hot pizza with the mint leaves before serving.
This should probably be enough for two people, but I’m having a hard time resisting the half that’s sitting on my cutting board.
The one nice thing I can say about this past winter is that it got me over my aversion to baking. Month after month of dark, bitterly cold days afforded ample time for experimentation–and a strong motivation to run the oven. I baked oatmeal-fig cookies, Meyer lemon gingerbread, and even a couple of yeasted breads.
But you don’t always have time for a proper rise, which is where your local pizza parlor is a great ally. In case you don’t already know, most pizza shops are happy to sell you a ball of the dough they had the foresight to start a few days ago. This means that homemade pizza can be yours in well under an hour.
Broccoli Rabe & Ricotta Pizza
- Grab some dough from the local pizza place on your way home from the subway.
- As soon as you walk in the door (yes, even before you remove your shoes), crank your oven up as high as it will go and pop a large cast iron skillet inside.
- Change into a caftan or other relaxation garment of your choice.
- Set a large pan over medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.
- Crack open a beer and cue up some appropriate tunes–Fleetwood Mac, for example.
- Bring a large pan up to medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.
- Peel and thinly slice several cloves of garlic. Rinse and roughly chop that bunch of broccoli rabe you bought on Sunday, when you mistakenly thought the week after vacation would be pretty chill.
- Add the garlic and a good pinch of crushed red pepper to the pan and stir continuously for a minute or two, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the broccoli rabe in batches, starting with the stems. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Take the skillet out of the oven and drizzle a little olive oil into it. Grab the ball of dough and slowly stretch it into a circle approximately the size of your skillet by working your hands around the edges, pulling gently and allowing gravity to do its thing. Place the stretched dough into the skillet. Layer on the broccoli rabe and several dollops of ricotta cheese. If you happen to have some dessicated parmesan or romano lurking in the fridge, grate some over the top. A little lemon zest wouldn’t hurt either.
- Pop the skillet back in the oven and grab another beer.
- Your pizza will be ready in six minutes (or a little less if your oven doesn’t suck as hard as mine). You’ll know it’s ready because the edges of your crust will be brown and bubbly.
If you game it right, Stevie Nicks will be crooning “Angel” by the time you sit down to dinner, an old friend who lives too far away will call just as you finish eating, and the leftovers will make for a lovely brunch when topped with a fried egg.
Yesterday I worked the second of my two volunteer shifts as a member of the Prospect Park CSA. I get the sense that not everyone is a fan of this membership requirement, but I find it to be great fun. While the good folk at Windflower Farm do all the work, I get all the glory. This week was particularly glorious, as tomato season is upon us.
My 16-year-old sister is staying with me for a couple of weeks while she attends a Shakespeare camp. She’s coming up on her first anniversary as a vegan so I’m cooking a bit differently than usual. Tonight we managed to polish off six plum tomatoes, one medium-sized tomato and four ping pongs (cutest tomato name ever).
Vegan (or not) Fresh Tomato, Sweet Onion and Corn Pizza
- 1 small batch whole wheat pizza dough (half a ball of dough from the Whole Foods freezer case worked perfectly for a midweek meal, but you can easily make your own)
- 1.5 pounds fresh tomatoes
- 1 large sweet onion (Walla Walla, Vidalia, etc.)
- 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella (fresh mozzarella, feta or even goat cheese would also be great)
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 ears sweet corn
- 10 leaves fresh basil
- salt and pepper
- Turn broiler to high and place a large cast iron skillet with one tablespoon olive oil in oven. Line a roasting pan or a baking sheet that has sides with foil and drizzle one tablespoon oil across it. Slice tomatoes and onion approximately 1/4″ thick and spread on baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil over the top, add salt and fresh-ground black pepper and place on the top shelf directly under the broiler.
- While this is cooking, cut the kernels off of the corn. (If your corn is as sweet and fresh as mine, go ahead and munch on some while you wait.) Check on your roasting veggies and, if your oven is a little uneven, rotate the pan.
- When the tomatoes begin to dry out and the onions turn brown at the edges, pull them out. Turn off the broiler and set your oven as high as it will go. Remove the cast iron skillet and tilt to spread the oil. Stretch dough into a disc roughly the size of the skillet by rotating your hands along the edges and allowing gravity to pull it down. If the dough sizzles when you place it in the pan, great.
- Sprinkle all but a couple of tablespoons of the cheese over the dough then top this with a layer of roasted tomatoes followed by the roasted onions. Add the corn and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese. (Were we not going vegan, some Romano would have been the way to go here.)
- Place your pizza on the bottom rack of the oven and bake until the crust just starts to brown. Sprinkle with chopped basil and, if you are so inclined, a bit of good quality olive oil.
We ate this with a simple salad of red leaf lettuce and tomatoes dressed with red wine vinegar, good olive oil, Dijon mustard and black pepper.
This is what a happy vegan looks like.