Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pizza con Carciofi

My trip to Specialty Produce this week took me into the Farmers' Market Room and I found some gorgeous baby artichokes and wasn't quite sure what to do with them, until I decided they were destined for a pizza that would be a starter for a meal with friends on Saturday night. If you aren't able to get fresh artichokes, you can use frozen artichoke hearts---the canned artichoke hearts will not hold up against the high heat in the oven needed to cook the pizza dough.  This is definitely worth the effort; our friends took the leftovers home, with Dr. C. looking longingly after them!

White Pizza with Artichokes

Makes one 14-inch pizza

 For the Artichokes

2 cups water
4 lemons
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
12 baby artichokes

  1. Put the water into a medium saucepan. 
  2. Cut the lemons in half, and squeeze the lemons into the water, and add the lemons to the water with the garlic cloves, peppercorns, salt and bay leaves.  
  3. Cut off the tough bottom leaves on the artichokes, quarter the artichokes and drop into the saucepan.  
  4. Bring the water to a boil, and simmer the artichokes, until they are tender. The sharp tip of a paring knife inserted into the base of the artichokes should go in easily.  Drain the artichokes, and set aside. 
Assembling the Pizza

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ball of pizza dough (see below for a recipe) 
3 garlic cloves, minced
grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
 artichoke hearts (see above, or One 16-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted)
salt and pepper
1/3 cup white wine
3 ounces Tallegio  or Italina Fontina cheese, or other triple cream cheese, thinly sliced
4 ounces Asiago cheese, shredded

  1. Coat a sheet pan with extra virgin olive oil, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss or roll out the dough, and press into the pan.  Set aside while preparing the artichokes.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic and lemon zest for 30 to 40 seconds until they are fragrant.  Add the artichoke hearts, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes.   Add the wine, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Set aside.
  3. Distribute the Tallegio or Fontina cheese over the pizza dough.  Top with the artichoke heart mixture, and sprinkle with the Asiago cheese.  
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the pan, and bake another 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the under-crust is golden brown.  
  5. Remove from the oven, allow to rest for 5 minutes, before cutting with a pizza cutter and serving hot or at room temperature. 

Cook's Note:  If you would like to make this without cheese, prepare the artichokes, and set aside.  Prepare caramelized onions (see below) and spread the onions on the pizza crust, top with the artichoke hearts, and bake as directed.
Caramelized Onions 
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large sweet yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat the oil over medium high heat, and saute the remaining ingredients, stirring frequently until the onions become golden brown.  
  2. The caramelized onions can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. 

For the Pizza Dough

Makes two 14-inch pizzas (make one and freeze the other)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups 00 Flour 
3/4 cup  lukewarm water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  1. Stir together all the ingredients, turn out onto a floured board, knead for 5 minutes, divide the dough in half, cover with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let rest and relax for 15 minutes before tossing.  

OO Flour  refers to how finely ground the flour is and how much of the bran and germ have been removed. Double zero is the most highly refined and is talcum-powder soft. All-Purpose flour can be substituted, but the OO produces an amazing pizza and pasta. You can find OO flour at Italian markets, and specialty grocers. 

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