I was never really enthralled by the idea of homemade pizza. I like a good slice as much as anyone else, but why spend hours and hours finicking over something that would only turn out to be a sad replica of the original?
But then I discovered the Smitten Kitchen 2007 dough recipe and proceeded to make it even easier. Dump some ingredients in a bowl, mix 'em around, leave 'em be, squish them a bit and there you go. No fancy pizza stone, no need to carefully stretch (that's what rolling pins are for. Sacrilege, I know) and you have the perfect base for shaved asparagus in the spring, and mushrooms and parsley in the fall, and summer sweet peaches at the end of summer.
We paired this with possibly my favorite summer recipe of all, drawn from the Roberta's cookbook. Fresh, only slightly toasted corn is paired with spicy, fatty bites of spreadable salami and a touch of green onion and lemon.
Honey Peach Pizza
For the dough, you need:
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- note that this makes around 2 - 3 pizzas, depending on the size of your baking tray and ability to roll thinly
- Mix up your dry ingredients in a big bowl
- Add liquid ingredients
- Loosely mix ingredients together and gently bring together into a ball
- Knead for a minute or two
- Per Deb at Smitten Kitchen, if your dough feels too floury and keeps fall into bits, let it sit for five minutes and/or add a tablespoon or so extra water
- Add a touch of olive oil to the bottom of your big bowl, and roll the ball around so all sides get a bit. Cover with saran wrap and let sit for a minimum of an hour or two. You should see it growing and it should land up about double in size. Note that you can also throw it in the fridge at this point and leave it overnight if you're planning in advance. Just plan for additional time for it to come to room temperature.
- Once it's puffed up, dump it onto a lightly floured surface and press the air out of it. Put it back into a rough ball shape and let sit again for about 20 minutes.
For the toppings you need:
- 1 - 2 ripe peaches
- mozzarella, preferably the kind that comes in water. Note that it does not need to be fancy though -- in fact, average grade can sometimes add a nice saltiness
- 1 jar of calabrian chilis in oil (if this isn't available, substitute chili flakes or calabrian flakes)
- 1 - 2 teaspoons honey
- a handful or two basil
- sea salt, chili flakes, and any other preferred toppings
To assemble and bake:
- Get your oven good and hot. We generally crank it to about 500 degrees and wait until it seems like it's actually up there. If you live in a tiny NY apartment, I strongly suggest you plan your cooling strategy in advance -- ours involves an air conditioner, two fans, several open windows and instructing our guests to arrive in their shortest shorts.
- Very lightly flour your baking trays if they tend to stick to things
- Prepare your toppings: slice peach into 1/8 - 1/4 inch wide strips and, if using jarred calabrian chilis, slice lengthwise and remove seeds.
- If you're fancy, stretch out your dough into pizza shape by hand. If you're not, save yourself the stress over random holes and unevenness, and use a good old rolling pin to press the dough into your preferred shape. Note that this may take more arm muscle than you expect -- you may find that the dough wants to shrink up on itself or lose shape, but have no fears, it will still taste like crust. Or at the very least, mangled flatbread.
- By hand, pull off pieces of mozzarella and place around the pizza. I generally recommend leaving gaps of 1/2 inch to 1 inch between pieces, depending on how cheesy you like it.
- Arrange peaches and chili strips around pizza. If using chili flakes, sprinkle over pizza.
- Drizzle very slightly with olive oil.
- Throw in oven to bake, generally about 10 minutes though this part depends entirely on your oven.
- Remove when crust starts turning a light golden brown and cheese is fully melted.
- Drizzle very slightly with olive oil, if preferred, and sprinkle with basil and a bit of sea salt.
- Drizzle pizza with honey. I've found a fork works best for this and general a teaspoon to two works best. Sprinkle with additional chili flakes if preferred.
Corn 'Nduja Salad
- approximately 1 head of fresh corn per person
- basil, ideally Thai or purple, though really anything will work
- 'nduja, or spreadable sausage (This can be found at many nice cheese + meat shops. It generally comes in a tube and lives out of the fridge until opened. You can see a version here.)
- green onions
- olive oil
- sea salt
- Shear corn kernels from their home. I generally do this by stripping away the leaves and hairs, then holding the cob by its handle vertical in a bowl, and cutting downwards. I'm also told that holding it horizontally on a cutting board works easily well. Regardless of method, watch your finger and remove kernels.
- Taste kernels.
- If they're already beautifully sweet and flavorful, leave them as they are.
- If not, heat a small dry pan over a medium flame. Adding corn and toast just slightly and gently. You're not looking for it to take on any color, just become a bit nuttier and richer in flavor.
- Place corn in a bowl.
- Add 'nduja to serving plate.
- Chop green onions into two-to-three inch strips.
- Heat a small pan on the stove on high heat with a touch of olive oil. Add green onions and toss until they get slightly charred. Add green onions to bowl, along with basil.
- Drizzle corn and green onions with olive oil, a bit of salt, and a squeeze of lemon.
- Pile salad on top of 'nduja. Sprinkle with additional basil and olive oil as needed.
Pro tip: left over 'nduja is excellent added to a simple lunch of greens and tomatoes, or can be used in an excellent breakfast fry-up with eggs and toast.