In Season: Pizza-Oven-Style Pizza with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Topped with Arugula Salad
I love these in-between season times of the year when you are able to have one foot in summer and the other in the cool season greens - a little like Four Corners. Right now, we're able to get the last bits of summer with some eggplant, zucchini, cucumber and tomato along with the first tender greens of the early cool season crops.
I recreated from memory a Jamie Olive Cooking at Home recipe for a "fresh" tomato sauce to go with my italian pizza oven style pizza - I remembered wrong but don't worry, this is also good.
Here's my short ingredient list with a few little tips to make this fancy restaurant style dinner at home.
Ball of pizza dough (I often make my own for pennies and keep them in the freezer for pizza night)
1 large ripe tomato
1 - 2 cloves garlic
Mozzarella cheese (about a 1/3 cup) (I used marinated bocconcini, halved - you could use the drier mozzarealla cheese shredded)
1 big handful arugula (or other salad greens)
Few tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey or agave (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Pull out your ball of dough from the fridge to come to room temp on the counter. Turn on the broiler (or just as hot as your oven gets) and make sure to stick in your pizza stone or cast iron pan to heat up.
If you have a pizza peel, you can skip this next step. Cut a parchment paper circle that will fit in your cast iron pan or pizza stone. If you haven't done this before, here's a tutorial. This will help you transfer the limp raw pizza to the oven without dropping it all over the floor or the inside of the oven.
Toss the tomato, roughly chopped, into a food processor or blender with a roughly chopped clove of garlic and a pinch of salt. Pulse until until smooth (or chunky - your choice). Pour the raw sauce into a small saucepan on medium heat and cook it down a bit until it's less watery and resembles a pizza sauce that's thick enough to stand on it's own in the oven and not make watery pools on you pizza.
Stretch your dough into any appropriate shape that will fit on to your cooking surface. I needed to make mine about a 9" circle for the inside of my cast iron pan.
Dollop the sauce on the pizza dough and with the back of the spoon swirl it around until it's evenly dispersed.
Top your pizza with the halved mozzarella balls (and whatever else you might like - chopped olives would be good) and transfer to the screaming hot oven and cook for about 8-10 minutes until the dough is cooked and crispy and the cheese has oozed and toasted a bit.
While the pizza is cooking, go grab a large bowl and rub the inside with a piece of garlic -- or if you don't feel like it, don't worry about it. Squeeze half a lemon and a pinch of salt into the bowl and let the salt dissolve while you go find your olive oil. Swirl the bowl around until the salt has dissolved and whisk in your better olive oil if you have it about a 3:1 ratio of oil to acid - or just start with a teaspoon and keep putting a little more until it tastes good to you. If you are using arugula, I would add the optional honey to balance out it's peppery flavor. Crack some black pepper in if you feel like it and tear up the couple handfuls of clean dried greens as you add them to the bowl and toss them with clean hands or your cool salad hands.
Pull out that pizza and top with the salad once it's cooled a minute or so.
Roll the pizza wheel through the crust and pour yourself your favorite cold bubbly beverage.