In an future/possible/alternate life, I get to make dinner at home. I would get to spend an hour or so every evening making food for people I love. I want to make it clear that I love what I do, but my schedule is a casualty of my job. One of my favorite parts of the day when I was teaching preschool was getting home and turning on the oven. I’d play music, chop vegetables, and drink a glass of wine. When I started to plan my dinners when I was supposed to be planning lessons I had a feeling I was working in the wrong field.
But back to this in this daydream life where I get to make dinner. In this imagined utopia I have a schedule. It’s not too strict, but it includes pizza every Friday. Some weeks that might be pizza ordered in with a glass of red wine on the side. Other weeks we’ll host friends over, and everyone can top their own pizza. We’ll have bottles of red those nights. But most Friday’s I would make the dough, throw on some toppings, and after fifteen minutes in the oven would have something wonderful and bubbling. It would be the most wonderful cheap and romantic date night. We could drink bubbly and watch a foreign film while eating a homemade pizza.
That fantasy’s not likely to happen any time soon. But I can adapt. Because I can’t cook dinner, I make lunches. And pizza lunches are just as delicious as pizza dinners, and even a bit more special.
This is one of my absolute favorite pizzas to make. Aaron stole this idea from a restaurant he used to bartend at. The restaurant was a good Italian place in an area that had a shortage of good restaurants. It was always busy, loud, and boisterous. The pastas were tasty, but the pizzas were delicious. There were some revolving seasonal pizzas, and a handful of standbys. And Aaron’s favorite was the arugula and mozzarella. He left that place years ago, and we still make it whenever we can find arugula. Over the years we’ve added feta to the pizza, and shallots to the arugula and way upped the amount of arugula topping the thing. It’s creamy and salty and fresh. It’s a pizza that you feel okay about eating that forth piece, because there’s so many vegetables to eat. It’s a pizza that adults who claim to despise vegetables still devour. It’s a fantastic pizza, equally suited to date nights, pizza parties, and sit down lunches.
I haven’t included very particular measurements for this pizza, because I rarely measure carefully when making pizza. The measurements below are approximations- use your best judgement to make a pizza that you’ll love. For this pizza, you could use your favorite pizza dough. For an easy homemade crust I’m partial to Jamie Oliver’s, and I’ve included my version of it below.
1 ball pizza dough
one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces mozzarella (about half of a lage ball), shredded
4 ounces feta (two handfuls), crumbled
2 ounces (4 cups) baby arugula
1 small shallot, sliced
juice of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 500. Drizzle a pizza pan with olive oil. Gently stretch the pizza dough into a circle and place onto the prepared pizza pan. Let sit for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, blend the tomatoes with the half teaspoon of salt. Taste, and adjust seasonings as necessary.
To prepare the pizza, top with sauce. You won’t need even close to all of the sauce- a quarter cup is the perfect amount for me. Top with your desired amount and spread to the edges. The rest of the sauce will freeze well.
Top with the mozzarella and feta. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. If you’re so inclined, sprinkle with flaked salt. Bake for 15 minutes, checking at the 10 minute mark. The cheese should have golden patches and the crust should be slightly darker than golden.
While the pizza bakes, toss the arugula, shallots, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Taste to check for seasonings, and adjust as necessary.
When the pizza is finished baking top with the arugula mixture.
adapted from Jamie Oliver
1 pound (about 3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
In a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center.
In a small bowl combine the warm water, olive oil, yeast, and sugar. Set aside for a few minutes until it begins to froth.
Pour the water-yeast mixture into the center of the flour mixture. Use your hands to mix the water into the flour, pulling the flour into the center of the water. Keep going until you have a damp, shaggy dough.
Turn out onto a well-floured surface. Knead for 5 or so minutes, adding more flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough. To knead dough I push it away from me with the palms of my hand, fold the dough over on itself, and give it a quarter turn. I then keep repeating, adding flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let it sit until it’s doubled in size, which will take about an hour. Turn out onto a floured surface and push the air out a bit. Divide into two balls. The dough can be used now, refrigerated, or frozen. If you do refrigerate (or freeze) it, make sure the dough comes back up to room temperature before using.