April 19, 2010

Ina's White Pizza(s) with Arugula

This recipe is in my Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook. I have been eyeing it for awhile, but for one reason or another, I did not end up putting it on my menu plan until now. My friend Claire recently tried this pizza and reported it to be totally delicious, so I am quite excited to check it out. The cheese content alone has me drooling, and I usually have excellent luck with Ina recipes!

I am going to make a couple of minor changes, but they should not effect the overall outcome of this dish. First, I noticed that the recipe itself has instructions to divide the dough up into six individual pizzas, but I am going to skip that and make just one big one for my family. Also, I picked up some whole wheat pizza dough from Fresh and Easy; so I am just going to use that instead of making my own this time. I had a bit of trouble finding the arugula (maybe that is why I never tried this pizza before...nothing will detract me from a recipe like hard-to-find ingredients), but finally the planets aligned and I found some. Is it dinnertime yet???? This should be an ooey-gooey cheesy treat.

Ina's White Pizza(s) with Arugula
From: Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics cookbook


For the dough:
* 1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
* 2 packages dry yeast
* 1 tablespoon honey
* Good olive oil
* 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
* Kosher salt
* 4 cloves garlic, sliced
* 5 sprigs fresh thyme ***(I USED 1/2 TEASPOON OF DRIED THYME)***
* 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:
* 3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
* 1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
* 11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:
* 1/2 cup good olive oil
* 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 8 ounces baby arugula
* 1 lemon, sliced ***(I DIDN'T USE SLICED FRESH LEMON)***

Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Let it rise. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.

The Result:
This pizza was fan-freakin'-tastic! This was the best pizza that I have ever made at home, hands down. We all LOVED it! If you are thinking about making this recipe, I would certainly not skimp on the quality of the cheese. I used fresh mozzarella, good fontina, and cherve goat cheese. Oh man, it was awesome! I did cut down on the amount of goat cheese (I probably used about half of what was indicated in the ingredients list), but the reduced amount did not impact the taste at all. I think if I would have used all of the goat cheese as listed, it would have been way too much. I also noticed that the higher cooking temp of 500 degrees really made the crust crispy. I think I will cook all of my pizzas from here on out at that higher temperature. The arugula salad gave a perfect bite and mild acidity to cut through the richness of the cheese...so don't skip that either. This pizza wouldn't have been half as good without it. The arugula salad really contributed to the overall balance to the dish. YUM! I can't wait to have the leftovers today for lunch. I highly recommend trying this pizza!!!

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