If I say “pizza” what pops in your head? Visions of a pie topped with red sauce and tons of pepperoni that’s drowning in cheese? Yeah, for a lot of you and you know who you are, that’s exactly the picture you conjure up.
I wouldn’t quite say that I’m a pizza snob, but, I kind of am.
After a trip to Italy where the “real” stuff is made, my whole outlook on the subject changed. Now, this is not meant to be an assault on New York-style, or Chicago-style or any other “style” of pizza. This is merely a commentary on my penchant.
First, the crust needs to be thin and crisp. I even like the little burnt bits that come from an uber hot oven, a famously scorching pizza oven or the grill. I’ve tested several dough recipes, and please feel free to choose your own, or in a pinch, purchase dough from your go-to market. Currently, I turn to Giada’s pizza dough. It is easy to work with, can be rolled as thin or thick as you like and it always has a crisp exterior that yields as soft, chewy interior.
Next, in my book, is to go easy on the toppings. A splotch of marinara sauce or a drizzle of fine quality olive oil is plenty. Then, simply add one, two or possibly three other ingredients; sprinkle with flattering cheese and bake away.
One of the main things that I learned while eating pizza in Italy, and food in general, was that less is always more. Take salad as a prime example. It usually consisted of greens, olive oil, vinegar, salt and cracked pepper. I do like a good Ranch dressing with just-picked garden vegetables like every other little kid, but the clean, unadulterated flavor of salad greens with oil and vinegar has my heart.
Keeping pizza simple is definitely a learning process. Admittedly, I’m tempted to add one more vegetable or layer of sausage, which means there needs to be more cheese to melt all over the goodness waiting on the crust. Remember, that crust? It’s going to get soggy if it’s too laden with stuff, as tasty as some of those items might be. So, I’m determined to use restraint.
Hubby has dined on the likes of two different pizzas of recent. One I did pretty well at, the other, while it wasn’t quite an utter failure, it certainly did not receive a star. In retrospect, it would probably have met with great success if it had been left on the grill longer. Note to self: don’t take the pizza off too soon. For me, I’d rather err on the side of crisp, bordering on burnt.
The clear champion of this gastronomic feat was the kale and clam pizza from last weekend.
It was akin to a bowl of orecchiette with clams and endive, showered with shreds of Parmesan.
Here’s how this without-a-recipe ditty played out:
- I purchased (yes, I did purchase the dough) a ball of dough from my market. It is actually a good stand in when time is short. Let the dough come to room temperature. It’s easier to work with and won’t continue to spring back and out-of-shape.
- Spread pizza dough on a baking sheet or pizza stone, to your desired thickness. I use a rolling pin and finish with my hands. Hands are great tools.
- Drizzle with around 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place shredded kale on the crust. I used Tuscan, also known as lacinato. Feel free to use whatever is fresh and on-hand.
- Top with clam meat, a handful of Parmesan cheese, garlic granules and crushed red pepper flakes.
The weather had turned off rainy, so this lovely was fired in a 500 degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. It was crisp, the kale slightly crunchy and the clams salty from the sea. Simply, brilliant!