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

Serves 3-4

Pizza dough

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

Method

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.

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