It’s appropriate that my first post is about the yearly Father’s Day meal I prepare for my vegetarian dad. Not only is he a self-professed food obsessive like me, but he inspired the title for this blog by affectionately referring to his backyard as “Provence in Melvindale”. Although Melvindale is a tiny, rather charmless suburb of Detroit surrounded by smokestacks of steel and chemical plants, my dad makes the best of his locale with an organic garden, gourmet nibbles and biologique wine. When the plastic dining set turned black from years in the elements (and pollution!), he started to refer to it as “Albania” instead of “Provence”. Anyways, you get the gist. I always look forward to the summer months when I can open my own little “Provence in Ann Arbor” patio and start entertaining. This year I knew I wanted to make a pizza with farmers’ market ingredients. This early in the growing season, that meant baby zucchini and squash blossoms.
Baby Zucchini and Stuffed Squash Blossom Pizza
1 Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza crust
5 baby zucchini, thinly sliced
8-10 squash blossoms
1 15 oz. container low-fat ricotta
4 garlic cloves, grated
1 small bag shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan
for the stuffed squash blossoms
1 small log goat cheese
1/2 baby zucchini finely chopped
1 small clove garlic
5 leaves basil
First, let the goat cheese come to room temperature (or microwave for 10 seconds) so you can mix it easily with one grated garlic clove, the chopped zucchini, the chopped basil and bit of salt and pepper. To stuff the blossoms, carefully slit down the side and remove the stamen (if using a male blossom as I did). Depending on the size of your blossom, add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of the goat cheese mixture and roll. Set aside stuffed blossoms to garnish the top of your pizza.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out your pizza crust to fit whatever pan you are using. If using a pizza stone, preheat to get the crisp crust on the bottom. Before dressing the pizza, bake the crust at 350 for 5-8 minutes depending on the thickness of your crust. This stops the pizza from becoming soggy.
While the crust is baking, mix 4 grated garlic cloves with the ricotta and season with salt and pepper. Spread ricotta mixture on the pizza, followed by a handful of parmesan cheese and mozzarella. Arrange zucchini slices to cover pizza entirely and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Add the squash blossoms and a bit more mozzarella and parmesan. Bake until zucchini is browned and the cheeses are bubbly. My favorite part of this pizza is the way the tangy goat cheese oozes enticingly out the squash blossom when baked!
I served this with a simple tomato and onion salad on organic lettuce leaves from dad’s garden. And, it wouldn’t be “Provence in Ann Arbor” without an ice-cold bottle of Côte du Rhone Rosé, bien sûr!
Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry cake with a dollop of whipped cream rounded out this mostly farmer’s market menu perfectly. I didn’t have nearly as many strawberries as her recipe calls for but it was delicious nonetheless. Try it.