Pizza Two Ways

I love experimenting with pizza toppings. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy a classic plain cheese pizza now and again – I’m not a monster. But there’s something to be said for un-basic toppings. For inspiration I love to look at Gjelina’s menu (I also have their cookbook). Some of my pizza bucket list toppings include: brussels sprouts and burrata, smoked mozzarella and jalapeno, feta and blistered tomato, and castelvetrano olive and caramelized onion to name a few.

Sometimes when the stars align just right some of these ingredients happen to be in my fridge. (OK, maybe I am a bit bougie?) Leftover ricotta cheese, frozen spinach and some Trader Joe’s Soyrizo were the heroes this time around. A stray can of whole plum tomatoes served as the super simple sauce on one side of my pizza and on the other side I opted for just olive oil and minced garlic. I always keep store bought pizza dough in my freezer – it opens up so many doors.

It’s easy to order a pizza (thank you, Seamless) but it’s also surprisingly easy to make extraordinary pizza at home. Forage your fridge for some interesting topping ingredients and use whatever cheese you have on hand – feta, mozzarella, goat cheese – it’s all fair game! If you want to replicate my half and half pie, just halve each of the below recipes.

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Pizza with Spinach and Ricotta 

  • 1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and wrung out with a paper towel
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 8 ounces whole milk fresh mozzarella
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Place dough in the pan and drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle minced garlic on. Using a tablespoon, dollop some ricotta cheese blobs around the dough surface. Take clumps of spinach and scatter on the dough next. Finally tear apart pieces of the mozzarella and place in areas that are devoid of ricotta or spinach. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake pizza for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Pizza with Soyrizo and Mozzarella 

  • 1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal
  • Tomato sauce (I used a can of whole plum tomatoes that I pureed in the can with an immersion blender)
  • 1/2 package of soyrizo, browned
  • 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Arugula

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan. Place dough in the pan and spread a generous amount of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle the soyrizo on top of the sauce and finish with torn pieces of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and bake for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown. When the pizza comes out of the oven, top with arugula and serve.

Smoky Beet Green & Black Bean Tostadas

A wise man once told me to never discard your beet greens. Shout out to my brother, Andrew. Although these sandy bastards can be cumbersome to clean, the effort is well worth it as the result is nutritious, resourceful and most important— tasty. A tostada is like an open faced taco. Or a gigantic nacho.  Smoked paprika, garlic and onions infuse the beet greens with a rich and smoky flavor and black beans add the necessary protein to make this dinner satisfying. Feel free to use any leafy green you like such as chard or kale. This dinner is a great quick and budget-friendly delight. It also helps to live in a Spanish speaking neighborhood where the queso fresco flows like Cristal in a rap video.

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photo 5Smoky Beet Green & Black Bean Tostadas

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

4 tsp olive oil

1 bunch beet greens, chopped

salt and pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

4 tortillas

1/4 cup queso fresco

2 limes

Greek yogurt

cilantro, chopped

tomato, chopped

Heat oven to 425. In a large frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons of oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 2-4 minutes. Add beet greens, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes or until wilted. Add smoked paprika, oregano and black beans. Cook until beans are warmed through and mash slightly with a fork. Taste and season accordingly with more salt and pepper. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil on a cookie sheet and place the tortillas on the cookie sheet, flipping the tortillas so they are coated in the oil. Bake for 5 minutes until golden. Top each tortilla with the bean and green mixture, chopped tomatoes, a dollop of Greek yogurt, chopped cilantro and queso fresco. Serve with lime wedges.

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Fish Tacos

Post-vacation depression (PVD) affects an estimated 97% of vacation goers annually. It can occur as early as your last day on the trip and linger for months, sometimes lasting until your next vacation. After returning from my honeymoon in Hawaii, I developed a severe case of PVD. It struck when I least expected— walking through hot bus exhaust set off memories of warm tropical breezes and even a dripping air conditioning unit induced flashbacks of sipping fruity cocktails in the swim-up bar. Needless to say, the transition back to reality has been rough. What can I do to cope? Fish. Taco. Therapy. In Hawaii, I ate some of the most insanely delicious fresh fish. The fish tacos were particularly unreal. Fresh ono nestled in a flour tortilla with shredded cabbage and served with pineapple salsa. It was a thing of beauty. Unlike beef tacos, fish tacos are more refined and don’t really require as many fixings. Fresh salsa, shredded cabbage and guac is all you really need. He me iki ia (you’re welcome).

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picstitch-15Fish Tacos with Pureed Tomato Salsa

(Serves 2)

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PVD set in early…

1 lb tilapia (feel free to use any white flaky fish such as mahi mahi, snapper or cod)

1/8 tsp ground coriander

1/8 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp smoked paprika

salt and pepper

olive oil

4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped

1 jalapeño, sliced

1/4 cup cilantro

1 lime

hot sauce (optional)

shredded green cabbage

Guac

Sour cream or Greek yogurt

Heat a frying pan with about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Rub a little oil on your fish and sprinkle with spices and salt and pepper. Cook fish about 3-5 minutes per side, or until it flakes nicely.

Pureed tomato salsa:

Adapted from Bobby Flay

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Sautee garlic and onions in about a tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes and jalapeño and cook for about 10 minutes. Add cilantro. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender. Add the juice of 1 lime, salt and hot sauce if you’re feeling frisky. Serve tacos with warm tortillas, shredded cabbage, guac, sour cream and a wedge of lime. Alcoholic beverage accompaniment encouraged.

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Rustic Roast Chicken

Simple and understated is often the best approach to food, fashion, and reacting to your friend’s horrific new haircut. It always surprises me how delicious a simple whole roast chicken is and it’s one of my absolute favorite foods.  This recipe is pretty foolproof, too. Toss the bird in with your favorite veggies and roast for an hour and a half. The trickiest part  is carving the golden bird. But, that’s where YouTube comes into play. Hope you enjoy this chicken as much as I do.

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Rustic Roasted Chicken

Adapted from Ina Garten

1 whole chicken (about 3.5 lbs)

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 bunch of thyme

1 lemon, cut in half

1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise

fingerling potatoes (small bag)

4 carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 bulb of fennel, top removed and cut into wedges

2 yellow onions, cut into chunks

Preheat your oven to 425. Rinse your chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the lemon, garlic and thyme. Brush the bird with about a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss veggies with olive oil and a good amount of salt and pepper and any leftover thyme that you have. Put the veggies in a roasting pan or dutch oven and place the chicken on top. Roast for 1 1/2 hours. See YouTube for helpful carving advice.