Mediterranean Pizza

One of my favorite things about cooking is venturing outside of my comfort zone. There are foods that my tongue simply refuses to acknowledge as tasty such as eggplant and spinach. Luckily for my culinary skills my husband does like those foods, but this isn’t Iron Chef so I season and experiment but never taste. He seems happy about the flavors, which is about the best I can hope for, so I think I’ve done a decent job so far.

That brings me to one of my biggest culinary loves; pizza. I’m not talking about the crap that passes for pizza in the frozen section of the grocery store because let’s be honest, that is only acceptable after a long night of partying or for college students. Otherwise it is a disgrace. No, I’m talking about making your own dough, kneading it until your muscles burn and watching (okay squealing) with delight when the dough begins to rise. This is the kind of pizza that gets my mouth watering.

No matter how far I am from home pizza is one of the foods I never get sick of making and that probably has something to do with how versatile a food it is. In Germany they have regular pizza, but their own version Flammkuchen which is technically a French dish, but I digress. The “dough” is very light and airy and with the right toppings it does taste pretty good with an ice cold pilsner. I like to experiment with the Flammkuchen toppings on my own pizza, but not today.

Today I was feeling a bit like something Mediterranean without going crazy. I made a few alterations such as using two types of pesto instead of tomato sauce for the base. This is one of my favorite tricks for keeping pizza ideas fresh; change up the sauce. I’ve used béchamel, red wine sauce, vodka sauce and even tapenade instead of good old tomato sauce. It changes the flavor profile and makes pizza feel…grown up.

pizza 04

I opted for Feta instead of any gooey type of cheese because, feta is delicious and should be used more often in my opinion. That tangy salty flavor allows you to put flavors that aren’t quite as strong on the dough like spinach (for him) or artichokes. The artichokes stayed in the fruit basket today but half of this pizza pie will have one of those super healthy dark green leafy vegetables. I wish I liked spinach because it is super healthy and low calorie, but I don’t. I like tons of others like Swiss chard, collard & mustard greens and even dandelion greens but I have not jumped on the kale bandwagon either…seriously have you ever had the stuff? No thanks.

So I put together a pizza with a salad and an amazing bottle of red wine for a little backyard picnic. My only wish is that I either had a better camera to take pictures with or that I was a better photographer. Some days it takes 15 or 20 frames before I get a non-blurry image that I can actually use, but I’ve tried my best to give you a clear image of this pizza.

pizza 01

Servings: 2 to 4, depending on your appetite

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Chopped spinach
  • 1/3 cup Basil pesto
  • 1/3 cup Spicy tomato pesto
  • 1 package Feta Cheese
  • 1 ¼ cup Black or Kalamata olives
  • 1 tbsp. Capers
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 8 Crimini mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 2 cups Whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water (at about 110 degrees F)
  • 1 envelope Yeast

Now I love a big ol’ supreme vegetable pizza as much as the next gal, but I think sometimes simple is best especially when you have delicious herbed dough as the highlight. So I kept the ingredients simple, but feel free to add anything else your heart desires.

pizza 03

Directions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt into a stand mixer or use your hands.
  2. Slowly add in water and 2 tbsp. of olive oil and mix until dough ball begins to form.
  3. If the dough is sticky, add a bit of flour to handle it when you knead it.
  4. Place it into a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 1 hour or until dough doubles in size.
  5. Meanwhile add 1 tbsp. of olive oil to a skillet over medium high heat.
  6. Add mushrooms and onions and cook until slightly crisp, about 10 minutes. Set aside and chill.
  7. Preheat oven to 350° F
  8. Roll out dough until desired thickness and pre-cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
  9. Remove crust from oven and add basil pesto to one side of the crust and tomato pesto to the other side.
  10. Top with remaining ingredients as desired and bake 15 to 20 minutes.

pizza and wine

A find that pizza is best eaten with a robust red wine, but feel free to wash it down with whatever tickles your fancy!

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