When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.
And what I mean by that non-sequitur is when your father hands you a bag of greens from his organic garden, make salad pizza. The lemon thing just sounds a little more charming. There are no lemons at all in this recipe actually. Where am I going with this? Sigh. Never mind.
Here’s the key to salad pizza (which certain restaurants-I’m not naming names because I still love them-don’t get), in my humble opinion. First you make regular pizza, something simple, like a margarita. Or if you’re not feeling tomatoes, let there be cheese. There must at least be cheese, a lot of cheese, please. Maybe even four cheeses. Without that cheese base, what you will have is bread and lettuce. And you will be hungry in about ten minutes (I’m talkin’ to you, Ann Arbor pizza restaurant of otherwise praiseworthy repute!)
Anyways, before this turns into a rant, let me just state, for those who are otherwise unenthusiastic about consuming their greens, that salad with pizza under it is a really fantastic way to eat salad. And pizza with salad on top ain’t bad either.
Makes an average jelly roll pan sized pizza.
Also, I should warn you to start the dough two hours earlier, to allow for rising, or make it the night before. Or, even, purchase dough. But why do that? Pizza dough is SO EASY!
- 1 pizza dough (recipe follows)
- 1 large beefsteak tomato
- 8 0z. fresh mozzarella (I used this)
- 4 oz. white cheddar
- 2 oz. Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
- a few thinly sliced onions (optional)
- a few leaves fresh basil
- a couple of handfuls of washed greens (baby lettuce, kale, etc.)
- a couple of tablespoons of vinaigrette (or just vinegar and olive oil)
For the dough (This is Jim Leahy’s recipe, courtesy of Jenny)
In a large bowl, mix 3 & 3/4 cups flour (you can use all white, all wheat or half each), 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon sugar, and one package dry active yeast. Mix well.
Add 1 & 1/3 cups warm water and mix it all up with your hands. It may seem like it’s too sticky and not coming together but persist. It will. Just knead a couple of times, until it’s a ball, cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow to rise, in a warm spot, for 2 hours. Divide the dough in half to form two balls. You can freeze the other, in an oiled freezer bag, for future use.
For the pizza
Preheat oven to 475°. Place rack on the top level.
Spread the dough with your fingers in a very well oiled jelly roll pan (use at least 2 Tbsp. olive oil, maybe more). Keep pushing until the dough gets thinner and thinner and reaches the outer edges of the pan. Patch up any holes that form with your fingers. This way you will get a thin, crisp crust.
Slice the tomatoes thinly, then chop into pieces, and spread it out over the dough. If using onion, spread that now too. Top with slices or torn pieces of the mozzarella, and grate the cheddar and Pecorino over the top of the mozzarella. Go ahead and use as much as you want, of course.
Bake in the hot oven for 13-15 minutes. Check at 13 to make sure toppings aren’t burning. The cheese should be bubbling at this point. I took mine out a minute too early and the crust was not as crispy as I wanted, so at least do the 13 minutes.
Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully make sure that the pizza is completely unstuck by turning the pan and running the spatula under the pizza until no bits remain stuck. Slide onto a large cutting board. Add the torn basil and crushed red pepper if you’re like me and like it spicy.
In the meantime, in a large bowl, toss your salad greens with the vinaigrette* (start with one tablespoon and taste, adding more if necessary).
Slice the pizza and top each slice with some salad.
*You can find a decent vinaigrette here (I really should do a post on various vinaigrettes).
Need more salad pizza inspiration?
- Make it a BLT or a BLAT by adding crumbled bacon to the pizza and sliced avocado to the greens.
- Make it Caesar-style with Caesar dressing and anchovies.
- Make it Lyonnaise style with a poached egg on the greens. Or even a fried egg. Eat with a knife and fork. Also, goat cheese!
- Make it Greek by swapping the lettuce with thinly sliced cucumbers and the cheddar with feta. Add Kalamata olives. I tried it last summer and it was spectacular.