Neapolitan-Style Pizza with Mozzarella and Arugula

2012-12-10 20.33.32

Homemade pizza is so cheap, easy and infinitely customizable that you will wonder why you ever spent $15 on mediocre pizza delivery. Not to mention that the owners of both Papa John’s and Domino’s really need to keep their mouths shut about politics. (Why do business owners opine about hot-button subjects? I see no advantage to this.)

What’s even better than saving money? Maybe nothing, but watching pizza dough rise is pretty darn cool, and watching the dough come together all of a sudden in your food processer, it’s like magic. I am definitely a meat-eater, but when it comes to pizza I prefer high-quality cheese and veggies. I’m also running high on a new-found obsession with arugula, so I’ve started putting it anywhere I can. This pizza also makes me feel like I’m being kind of healthy since it’s piled high with the color green.

What are some of your favorite kinds of pizza and places to get it? I was recently introduced to a fabulous East Village pizza restaurant in NYC called Motorino. (I still have dreams about my friend, Carolyn’s clam pizza.)

This dough is from a Splendid Table recipe, but I also really like the recipe from Mark Bittman. Hubby and I prefer a thinner crust, so we gave this a whirl, with fantastic results!

For the dough:

  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm (about 100 degrees) water
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 to 1-1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Additional flour for your workspace (don’t want your dough to stick to the counter!)

In a food processor fitted with the dough blade, blend yeast, water, and teaspoon of flour. Foam should begin to form on the surface in about eight minutes. (If this doesn’t happen, it might mean your yeast is off, like mine was… even though it was before the expiration date! Grumble. Toss and begin anew.) Blend in the rest of the flour and salt, forming a soft and smooth but slightly sticky dough. Don’t blend it for more than about 30 seconds. Then, knead five minutes by hand. Place in a large, well-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit until it has doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours.) You can freeze the ball before letting it rise, or you can keep it covered and on hold for up to eight hours. About 20 minutes before baking, punch it down, knead it for another minute or two, form it into a ball and cover.

When you’re ready, lightly grease a cookie sheet and preheat the oven to 500 degrees, setting rack as low as possible. Roll out dough as thin as possible (no more than 1/16-inch thick) and gently spread it on the cookie sheet. If you’re feeling patient, let it rest another 10 minutes. If not, soldier on. Roll in the edges if you’d like a more defined crust. (I clearly did not do that in the photo below.) Give it a brush with olive oil. With a spoon, ladle a bit at a time of your favorite pizza sauce. (I used Trader Joe’s, but if you’re feeling super adventurous you could make your own!)

Next, if you’re me or have similar taste, top with garlic and onion. However, note that certain vegetables will not cook as quickly as others and require a good sautéing before heading into the oven. I threw a whole onion and about four cloves of garlic into the cast iron pan until they started to caramelize. It was an excellent idea. No matter what you do, throw on some well-drained fresh mozzarella, plenty o’ salt, a pinch of fresh ground black pepper, and a good dash of dried basil and oregano.

Bake for 10 minutes. Using a spatula and thick oven mitt, slip the pizza off the pan directly onto the oven rack by pulling out the rack and grasping your cookie sheet firmly. Use a spatula or pancake turner to slip the pie off of the sheet and onto rack. While you’ve got the rack pulled out, carefully pile on as much arugula or other green as your tummy likes. (Careful not to burn yourself here, this is why we’ve got the rack pulled out.) You don’t want to cook the greens for too long, just a slight threatening. Crispness is key. Bake for 2 more minutes. Slip the pizza pie back onto pan, remove, and buon appetito!!

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