Recipe: Garden Pizza

Pizza is my go to meal.  When I cook and want something easy (or really when I want something to use up everything that is in the fridge), I do pizza.  Last night was one of those nights.  I offered to cook for my parents. I had originally been planning on making a raw salad using what is in my garden – fennel, figs, basil, and tomatoes (not necessarily together).  My fennel bed is overwhelmed and I needed to thin it out.  The fig tree is bursting with figs ready to be picked and enjoyed.  My basil is amazing – a little too much – actually, way too much.  I love looking at it, but cannot even begin to imagine being able to eat it all.   I could tell my dad was not so excited at the thought of my cooking as I have been eating primarily raw and plus, when I offer to cook, dinner usually ends up being after 8 pm. I decided to make something that would make him happy, so pizza it was!

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For the first pizza, I used garlic, tomatoes, fennel, kalamata olives, parmesan cheese, basil, and a little fresh pepper.  For the second, I used ricotta cheese topped with fresh figs, red onion, balsamic vinegar, thyme, a little parmesan cheese, and fresh pepper.  With both pizzas, I opted to not use any sauce and tried to limit the amount of cheese so that the flavors of the produce would really be the focus.  It was all about using the bounty from the garden.  Hence, perfect setting to sit outside next to the garden to eat and enjoy and listen to the sounds of heat bugs and chickens.  Seriously beautiful and perfect.  Serve with a glass of red wine.

Fennel and tomato pizza:

  • Thin crust pizza dough from Cooking Light – my go to pizza dough (The honey in this recipe is fabulous!  Never again will I use sugar in my pizza dough.)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, chopped, including leaves (I did not use all the fennel)
  • 1/3 cup fresh shredded parmesan cheese (rough estimate)
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped
  • cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper

Follow instructions for making pizza dough.  However, I do a couple of things differently.  I do preheat the baking sheet while the oven is preheating, but I never precook the dough.  With this recipe, I found that it makes it tough and chewy.  Just not good.  Also, I use olive oil to coat the bowl instead of cooking spray (which works too).  I do not use the cornmeal.  If you like the taste or have some on hand, feel free to use it.  I just never have.  Also, I never crimp the edges.  I just leave an edge around the pizza when adding the toppings.  I feel that is sufficient, especially when there is no sauce as in this recipe.

After the dough has chilled for an hour, remove from the fridge and roll out on floured surface.  Roll to fit the sheet being used, whether round or rectangular.  Remove baking sheet from the oven.  Drizzle olive oil to thinly coat sheet.  Transfer rolled out dough to hot baking sheet – just remember it is hot!  (I have burnt my hands in the past.)   Begin by drizzling olive oil on the dough.  Next, evenly sprinkle the garlic.  Add sliced tomatoes, fennel, parmesan cheese, olives, and fresh pepper.

Back on middle rack for 8-10 minutes at 500, until the cheese is melted and the crust is baked.  Sprinkle basil leaves on top and enjoy!  (I always forget how much basil browns in the oven.  Wait until you remove it and add it.)

*The measurements are not exact.  I just use what looks good.  You might want to adjust and use more or less to fit your taste.

Fig and Ricotta Pizza:

  • Thin crust pizza dough from Cooking Light
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 8 fresh figs, quartered
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • balsamic vinegar, good Modena vinegar
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese (not even a 1/4 cup, just enough for a dusting)
  • cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper

Follow instructions for making pizza dough.  However, I do a couple of things differently.  I do preheat the baking sheet while the oven is preheating, but I never precook the dough.  With this recipe, I found that it makes it tough and chewy.  Just not good.  Also, I use olive oil to coat the bowl instead of cooking spray (which works too).  I do not use the cornmeal.  If you like the taste or have some on hand, feel free to use it.  I just never have.  Also, I never crimp the edges.  I just leave an edge around the pizza when adding the toppings.  I feel that is sufficient, especially when there is no sauce as in this recipe.

After the dough has chilled for an hour, remove from the fridge and roll out on floured surface.  Roll to fit the sheet being used, whether round or rectangular.  Remove baking sheet from the oven.  Drizzle olive oil to thinly coat sheet.  Transfer rolled out dough to hot baking sheet – just remember it is hot!  (I have burnt my hands in the past.)   Begin by drizzling olive oil on the dough.  Next, spread ricotta cheese on the dough.  Add onion, figs, and thyme leaves.  Drizzle vinegar over the pizza and then lightly sprinkle with parmesan cheese (just to add a little salt).  Grind fresh pepper over the pizza.

Back on middle rack for 8-10 minutes on 500, until the crust is baked.  Enjoy!

Next time, I might try using blue cheese instead of parmesan cheese.  We shall see!

*The measurements are not exact.  I just use what looks good.  You might want to adjust and use more or less to fit your taste.

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