I am pretty sure pizza takeout places are buzzing on Fridays. I must admit, when I am too lazy to cook, I have picked up the phone and placed an order for a processed cheese and squishy vegetable pizza. There are not any great takeout pizza places where I live, so I find it to be a better option to make my own.
My family has been doing this for ages. Making three or four pizzas at a time and devouring them all. In high school, my friend’s mom also made great pizzas every week. It is a family tradition for many of us. Pizza can be doctored up in so many ways, that anyone can find something they like. Pizza is a unifier for us all. Who thought pizza could hold such a deep place for humans? Sarcasm aside and in simpler words, everyone loves pizza!
There are no hard and fast rules to making pizza. I usually use a whole wheat crust, (this time I got one from my local bakery) but feel free to use white, gluten-free, or herbed. It is not that hard to make pizza crust and it is worth it. Bread/Dough, of course is another common ground for all human beings.
Toppings are endless. I am definitely a toppings girl. I can never decide what I am in the mood for. There are so many decisions to make and if you know me, you know how indecisive I am, especially when it comes to food. This is probably because I want everything but ultimately I have to toughen up and make a decision. This time my refrigerator dictated what the outcome would be. Instead of tomato sauce, I used ricotta cheese. In the summertime, I like to make a simple Neapolitan style pizza, but in the winter I like the heartier ricotta. If any New Englanders know about Papa Gino’s, you may remember their 3 cheese (or was it 4 cheese) pizza that had dollops of ricotta on it. I used to love this pizza as a child. I wish my inspiration for the ricotta came from a more sophisticated source, but alas it was good ole Papa Gino’s.
Pizza with Herbed Ricotta
1/2 a bell pepper (any color you prefer) cut into small strips
3-4 stalks of asparagus cut on an angle
1/2 a zucchini, thinly sliced
1 onion, caramelized (sauté onion in a little olive oil on medium-low heat, add salt, pepper, 2 sprigs of thyme, crushed red chilies, and 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar and allow to caramelize for about 15 minutes)
1/2 cup whole Kalamata olives, pits removed
3-4 cloves roasted garlic, optional
fresh mozzarella cheese or buffalo mozzarella, as much as you like
parmigiano regginao, as much as you like
fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
crushed red chilies for garnish
For the ricotta mixture:
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup baby arugula
15 sprigs fresh chives
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Roll out your dough onto a large baking sheet (round or rectangular). If you have a pizza stone you may use that as well.
For the ricotta mixture, pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth or mix and combine in a bowl but in this case, chop the herbs finer.
Spread the ricotta over the dough and top with the vegetable and cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is cooked and the cheese starts to get bubbly. If you wish, garnish with the parsley and crushed red chilies.