Thursday, December 30, 2010

Broccoli, Spinach, Feta and Gruyere Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust

I love pizza, as guaranteed by two factors: 1) I'm from Chicago, and every person's DNA is altered by the Chicagoland area "pizza gene" (along with an automatic affinity for dancing the Superbowl Shuffle and the need to yell out "BER-WYN," or tearing up remembering the Bulls' glory days in the 1990's when one hears EMF's "Unbelievable"); 2) I make some damn good pizza crust.

I've posted my recipe for simple thin crust pizza once before, but I also love whole wheat crust. Now, before we go on, I must admit something. I'm going to say something that might shock you, especially those of who you might have preconceived notions as to what the Chicago "pizza gene" does, so I want you to sit down.


...I don't like thick crust. Or deep dish. I'm a thin crust kind of gal, and no amount of exposure to the aforementioned pies will ever convert me. Paper thin crust with a bit of a bite to it is just my cup of tea. In fact, I didn't know anyone growing up who even liked deep dish pizza. It's kind of a tourist thing.

So there. Moving on.

When I make whole wheat pizza crust, I generally feel weird putting sausage or heavy ingredients all over something so seemingly healthy, so I opt for veggies and non-traditional cheeses. In addition to the dough recipe and the pizza toppings, I'm including a simple recipe for pesto made with walnuts (instead of the traditional pine nuts that cost a stinkin' fortune). I'm going to be honest: I love my garlic, so feel free to cut down to 3 cloves. Or two.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (makes one 14" thick crust pizza, or 2 thin crust)

1 1/2 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup warm water (about 105 degrees)
1 tsp. honey
3/4 c. cold water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 3/4 c. unbleached all-p flour

1. In a bowl or cup, mix yeast, honey and warm water together, and let sit for 8-10 minutes. When ready the mixture should be foamy. In another cup or bowl, combine cold water, olive oil, and salt.
2. Combine both flours in food processor bowl, and pulse until thoroughly mixed. Once yeast mixture is ready, add water/oil/salt mixture and yeast mixture to the processor with motor running. Mixture should form a dough ball after processing for 20-25 seconds. When it's ready, turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Place dough ball in a large bowl coated with olive oil or cooking spray. Turn to coat with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft free place for about an hour.
3. Once dough has risen, punch dough down on floured surface and cut in half for two thin crust pizzas, or simply roll out for one thick crust pizza. Sprinkle pizza pan with cornmeal and transfer crust to pan once rolled out. With a fork, puncture crust all around to prevent bubbles.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush dough with 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil and bake in oven until just beginning to brown. Remove from oven, top with desired pizza toppings, and bake.

Pesto (sans pine nuts)

2 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
4 cloves garlic
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
5-6 tbsp. water
1/2 c. parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 c. walnuts
Pinch of salt and pepper

1. In a food processor, combine basil, walnuts and garlic; pulse until mostly chopped (note: you might have to scrape the sides of the bowl down before moving on to the next step). With the motor running add olive oil, water, and parmesan until thoroughly combined. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

Note: If using all of the pesto for pizza, you may have to water down the pesto a bit more since pesto can sometimes dry out when applied to crust. Better yet, throw in a couple of tablespoons of ricotta, and give that a whirl.

Broccoli, Spinach, Feta and Gruyere Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust Note: this recipe is for two thin crust pizzas

1 recipe whole wheat pizza crust (see above)
2 small heads broccoli
2 c. baby spinach, packed
1/2 cup pesto (see above)
6 oz. Gruyere, shredded and divided
1/2 cup feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut broccoli into bite sized florets and steam for 3-4 minutes. In the last minute, throw in baby spinach and remove from heat.
2. Spread pesto evenly between two pizza crusts with a spoon. Sprinkle broccoli on top of pesto, and place pieces of spinach evenly around pizzas. Sprinkle gruyere and feta evenly amongst toppings.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 7-10 minutes, cool and enjoy.

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