In this week’s share:
- head of green lettuce
- Napa cabbage
- red and orange bell peppers
- sungold cherry tomatoes
- jalapeño peppers
Secret Recipe for Perfect Pizza
I don’t do a lot of things well, but if there’s one thing I freely brag about, it’s my pizza. My mom always made her own pizza dough, and as a result “pizza night” for me was never a phone call to Domino’s, but a special occasion full of its own rituals and mysteries: the bubbling mug of yeasty water, the smooth surface of the just-formed mounds of dough, the bulge of the dish towel as the dough ballooned to twice its original size, and the tantalizing smell of the pizza crust as it baked to crispy perfection. Inevitably, I would burn my tongue in a rush to sample the first pie out of the oven, but it was worth it. As a teenager, my mom’s pizza recipe was one of the first dishes I learned to make on my own, and I started perfecting my technique as soon as I had my first college kitchen. I like to think my pizza dough played no small role in convincing Mandy of my suitability as a mate.
The most incredible thing about my mom’s pizza recipe is that it’s almost comically easy. Part of what makes it so easy is that we use a food processor. But you can certainly make it by hand in a large bowl; it just takes longer to get the right consistency. And consistency is the key here. You want to mix the dough until it holds together as a cohesive ball, but is still sticky and elastic. The less excess flour you use, the more pliable the dough and the thinner and lighter your crust. It takes some practice, but it’s well worth the effort. Without further ado, here’s the Roos family not-so-secret pizza dough recipe:
Homemade Pizza Dough (makes 2 pizzas)
- 1/2 cup warm water (if it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 tsp active dry yeast
- 3 1/4 cups unbleached white flour (pizza is one of the few recipes in which we insist on using white flour, not whole wheat)
- 1 tsp salt
- scant 1 cup water
- gently stir the sugar and yeast into the warm water and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes
- meanwhile, put the flour and salt in a food processor
- add the yeast mixture and pulse a couple of times to blend
- slowly add the water, pulsing repeatedly until the dough forms into a ball. It’s OK if it still sticks a little to the sides as the ball rolls around inside the processor. A little sticky is better than overly dry. Run the food processor for another minute to knead the dough further.
- Sprinkle some flour on the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Dust your hands with flour and transfer the dough into the mixing bowl. Form it into a smooth ball and cover with a generous dusting of flour. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and leave it in a warm place for at least 1 hour, more if you have time.
- In your oven, position one rack on the lowest level and another in the middle. Pre-heat to 500F or as high as your oven goes
- Punch down the dough, but don’t knead it. Divide it in two. I don’t toss the dough in the air or anything. Dust your hands with more flour. Holding the dough in front of you, gently stretch it into a rough circle shape without ripping holes in it. Lay it in the center of an oiled pan and, working from the middle, gently push and dough toward the edges of the pan. I prefer a nice thin crust with thicker edges.
- Add your preferred toppings and bake for roughly 10 minutes. Place one pizza on each rack and switch places half way through to ensure a nice crispy bottom
Why It’s Pizza Season
You’re getting the first fall arugula this week and the last of those sugary-sweet Sungold cherry tomatoes. These two ingredients form the foundation of what Mandy and I believe to be the best pizza on the planet. The rest of the year, we make the standard sauce-and-cheese pizzas topped with all manner of deliciousness — braised kale and crisp bacon, potatoes and pesto, a thick layer of sauteed baby bella mushrooms — but when it’s arugula season, we make our favorite. We fell in love with this unusual flavor combination at an authentic brick-oven pizzeria in none other than Guadalajara, Mexico. It’s an arugula, cherry tomato and shaved parmesan pizza, but the only thing that’s actually “cooked” is the crust. The combination of warm crispy crust, popping tomato flavor, and spicy greens is unbeatable. Here’s how you make it:
- Once you’ve stretched the raw dough onto the pan, drizzle it with olive oil and spread the oil all over the surface of the dough with your hand. Sprinkle with sea salt and liberal amounts of shaved or shredded parmesan cheese. Pop it in the oven and cook as above, watching carefully so it doesn’t burn (might take less than 10 minutes)
- While the pizza is cooking, wash 15 to 20 cherry tomatoes and slice them in half
- Wash and spin two generous handfuls of arugula
- The second the nearly naked pizza emerges from the oven, cover it with a layer of cherry tomatoes and top with a pile of arugula and some more parmesan cheese. Slice and serve immediately!
Other Great Arugula Ideas
- replace the lettuce on your BLT or next sandwich with arugula
- toss it into your salad for a bite of extra flavor
- sauté it into your scrambled eggs
The first potatoes of summer — rightfully called “new” potatoes — are waxy and dense, making them ideal for slow-roasting. If you leave those same potatoes in the ground, the tubers grow bigger and the flesh gets lighter and starchier. Harvested in the fall, these bigger potatoes make great baking varieties and transform into delectably creamy and smooth whipped potatoes (generous amounts of butter and cream help, too). They also provide some heft to late-summer stews, soups and curries.
- Thai Mussamun Curry with Chicken, Potatoes and Peanuts
- Kale, White Bean and Potato Stew (I’d add bacon to this, but there are few things that I wouldn’t add bacon to)
- Hearty Beef and Potato Stew
- How to Make the Best Mashed Potatoes