Monday, November 10, 2008

Earth Muffin Family & Friends II: Deep Dish Veggie Pizza

All right, so I missed the Daring Bakers challenge last month (Pizza Napoletana, hosted by Rosa). To compensate for my ineptitude, I thought I'd share another pizza recipe with you. This is an oft-requested family classic, and one of my father's specialties.

The majority of my favorite memories with my father (also known as "Papa Earth") involve food: licking a sample of his frosting from the beater while he made one of us a birthday cake, or being instructed in the art of some trivial food preparation, such as the proper construction of a lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise sandwich. It seemed to me, as a child, that he would often deliberately leave partially-prepared food out to tempt us. The plate of shredded mozzarella, or the bowl of resting cookie dough, would taunt us from its hallowed place on the counter, and if we dipped our fingers into these forbidden stores, Dad would always materialize suddenly, shouting "GET outta there!"

Now, of course, he feeds a little scrap of almost EVERYTHING to our dog, a relatively new addition to the family, whom everyone spoils. Their relationship is one of ever-increasing intensity; sometimes I think my father's scorn hurts Apollo's little canine heart more than it ever did ours.

Everyone who knows my family is familiar with the (in?)famous "Daddy Cookies," a recipe handed down from his mother, and a Sunday afternoon tradition at our house since I was little. Dad calls these his "spiritual observance," only half-joking when he admits to not feeling at peace if he cannot make them. I will save those for another post.

Though less well-known, his pizza recipe is just as mind-blowingly good. Once, while visiting, I created a somewhat healthier version, a whole grain, deep-dish concoction full of vegetables. Luckily, Dad is always ready to try something new, standing over my shoulder and providing (sometimes unheeded) suggestions until I have to swat him away with whatever kitchen utensil is most handy.

Deep Dish Veggie Pizza

Part 1: Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

To make this less heavy, I tried using whole wheat pastry flour, which is just made from white wheat instead of red. Because it's meant for lighter baked goods, it doesn't develop gluten as well, so that might not have been the best choice for holding all of the vegetables in this recipe. Regular whole wheat flour would be just as tasty, and probably more structurally sound.

1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup water
1 tsp sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp olive oil

1. Dissolve yeast in water with sugar, mix in flour & oil.
2. Knead for 5 minutes or so. Let rise for 1-2 hours.
3. After first rise, spread into greased pan (I used Pam, in a 9" cake pan). Use the tongs of a fork to pierce the bottom of the crust. Cover with towel and allow to rise for approximately 15 minutes.

Part 2: Veggies

1/2 zucchini
1/2 yellow squash
1 carrot
7 brussel sprouts
10 green beans
1/2 head of broccoli
10 cherry tomatoes
1/2 bag fresh spinach

1. Peel vegetables if necessary, and dice.
2. Steam all but tomatoes, and spinach. I cooked the spinach separately, with some water, and left the tomatoes raw. (TIP: When you're baking something in the oven, you might want to leave the vegetable components slightly undercooked, or "al dente," so they don't become mushy in the final dish.)
3. Mix vegetables, and add spices as desired. (I used basil, salt and pepper.)

Part 3: Sauce

This is the part that's really up to you. I flip-flop between preferring a chunky and a smooth sauce. Dad usually goes with smooth, and he's agreed to share his super-secret sauce recipe with you.

1 can tomato sauce
onion powder
garlic powder
parmesan cheese

1. Add varying amounts of ingredients to taste. This sounds daunting, but I start by adding a dash of each, then tasting. You can't go wrong by starting small and working your way up. The nice thing about this recipe is that, for those of us who don't regularly cook, onion and garlic powders are cheaper, less perishable alternatives to buying onion and garlic whole, which tend to go bad if you don't use all of them. That said, I do advise you to buy garlic, which keeps longer, because it increases the deliciousness of almost all foods by 40-60%! I made that statistic up but you get the idea.

Part 4: The actual pizza!

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Pre-bake the crust for roughly 5 minutes.
3. Fill the crust with sauce, vegetables, and cheese, in whatever order you desire.
4. Bake for 6-8 minutes.



Unknown said...

That pizza looks so amazing. I am going to lick my computer screen.

Also, I can't wait for your entry dedicated to "Daddy's Cookies"! I have been waiting for that recipe for ages.

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