Sunday, February 28, 2010

White Pizza with Arugula Salad

The last time I was in LA was about 2 years ago. It was Memorial Day weekend and Tristan was going to be on the east coast so I decided to pack my bags and head south for a mini vacation. Besides seeing some of my favorite people (Shana, Tamara & Russ and Sooryun) I was looking forward to some fabulous food.

Shana had to leave town partway through my visit but left me with a thoughtful to-do list, including grabbing a slice at Abbot’s Pizza Company on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. And I’m so glad she did. 
After much deliberation, I settled on a slice of the gourmet wild mushroom. While it was seriously delicious -- partly due to their signature bagel dough crust –- I couldn’t stop eying the Salad Pizza that appeared after I put in my order: a large, thin-crust pie loaded with heaps of chopped greens, tomatoes, basil, avocado and feta in a lemon dressing. Two great dishes in one! Brilliant.

I pretty much forgot about this novel idea until a few days ago when I was leafing through cookbooks at the University of Washington bookstore. Long story short, Ina Garten had a simple white cheese pizza topped with arugula salad in her Back to Basics book, which quickly jogged my memory. 

This is more of an idea than a recipe. Use whatever pizza base you like (garlic oil, pesto, sour cream and olive) topped with whatever salad sounds good. Make it colorful with avocado, radishes and tomatoes or keep it simple with only greens. It all works.

White Pizza with Arugula Salad
I like serving these as individual pizzas but feel free to make one large pie. For a heartier meal, top the pizza with some crispy prosciutto before baking. Adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten.

1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1/2 cup for the salad dressing
6 cloves garlic, sliced 

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound pizza dough, divided into 4 pieces
Cornmeal for dusting
2 cups grated fontina cheese
1 cup grated fresh mozzarella
8 ounces creamy goat cheese or blue cheese
Salt and pepper
Large bunch arugula (7-8 oz), washed and spun dry
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 500˚F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and dust evenly with cornmeal (this is what gives the crust extra crunch).

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes until simmering. Continue cooking at a gentle simmer for about 8 minutes, making sure that the garlic doesn’t burn. Set aside.

Using lightly oiled hands, stretch each portion of dough into a thin round, almost the size of a dinner plate (about 8 inches). Place two rounds on each parchment-lined, cornmeal-dusted sheet pan. Brush each round with garlic oil and top evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat/blue cheeses. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer pizzas to the oven and bake until crust is crisp and cheese has begun to brown, 12-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Place arugula in a large salad bowl and drizzle with just enough vinaigrette to moisten. Toss well.

Plate pizzas and top each with a heap of salad. Serve immediately.

1 comment:

Krissi said...

YUMMMMM! Why do I always end up reading your blog right before dinner?!?!? Such a bad idea, I'm drooling on my keyboard! Oh, great picture, by the way.