Zucchini-Ricotta Pizza Plus MVK’s *Like* of the Week

The peonies in the garden are in bloom!

The peonies in the garden are in bloom!

I caught the sky looking like this on my way home before the storm.

I had to stop to take a picture of the sky before the storm.

Happy summer! It is finally the glorious season of local vegetables and the big strawberry sign is up in town, signally the berries are ripe! It will be strawberry shortcake for dinner very soon!

This recipe, which I found in the June issue of Cooking Light is a combination of foods I normally wouldn’t put together (mint on pizza?), but it is SO good! With a creamy ricotta base with a hint of garlic, then fresh ribbons of zucchini, it was a perfect meal for the end of the day, especially in the summertime. And is a different way to use up your CSA vegetables and herbs if you have one.

This recipe is actually one of three; the pizza dough makes a large batch, and divided into three portions, you can make Shrimp Panzanella or Broccoli, Cheddar and Ranch Chicken Calzones. Me? I prefer to have two extra batches of pizza dough in the freezer for a quick summer dinner. Just wrap the portions in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Take out in the morning and defrost on a plate and you’re ready to go when it’s time to make dinner! And a time-saver tip is to make the dough over the weekend so you don’t have to make it on a weeknight!

pizza

Zucchini-Ricotta Pizza

This recipe first appeared in the June 2016 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
3 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
23.75 ounces white whole-wheat flour (about 5 cups)
Cooking spray
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
1 garlic clove, grated
2 medium zucchini, shaved (about 2 cups)
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)

1. Place first 3 ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in olive oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and black pepper. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour to bowl; beat at low speed just until combined. Cover; let stand 20 minutes. Uncover; beat at medium-low speed 8 minutes. Turn dough out onto a work surface. Knead 1 minute; form into a ball. Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray; turn to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°) about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Divide into 3 portions. Wrap 2 portions in plastic wrap; reserve for Shrimp Panzanella and Broccoli, Cheddar, and Ranch Chicken Calzones. Cover remaining dough portion; let rise 30 minutes.

2. Place a pizza stone or baking sheet in oven. Preheat oven to 500°.

3. Combine tomatoes and 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 500° for 7 minutes.

4. Roll dough portion into a 13-inch circle on a large piece of parchment paper; pierce well with a fork. Place on preheated stone; bake at 500° for 4 minutes. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, ricotta, basil, mint, milk, and garlic; spread over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Combine zucchini with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil; arrange on pizza. Top pizza with feta. Bake at 500° for 10 minutes. Top with tomatoes; bake at 500° for 4 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges.

The-Changing-American-DietMVK’s *Like* of the Week: The Changing American Diet
I found this interactive article online last week and just knew it would be my like of the week. Want to know what people ate more of in the 1970s? Beef, potatoes, and whole milk. Know what it was in 2013? Chicken, potatoes, and American cheese. And apples have been the most popular fruit every year! Really interesting trends here.  You can see the map and read the article here.  

Mystic Pizza

I took a short hike the other morning. This is looking west to the Adirondacks. I couldn't help but notice the complete lack of snow below in Vermont!

I took a short hike the other morning. This is looking west to the Adirondacks. A weird winter indeed; a complete  lack of snow and Lake Champlain isn’t frozen over despite the cold temps in January!

An addendum to last week’s recipe. I was corrected by my mother that the correct title of the cookies is Coconut Orange Refrigerator Cookies. Duly noted and a correction has been made!

A favorite movie of mine from the late 1980s was “Mystic Pizza,” a coming of age story of three young women who worked in a pizza parlor in Mystic, Connecticut. While I always wanted my own pizza parlor days to resemble theirs (it didn’t), it certainly gave me lots of experience making pizza, which I brought back to my kitchen.

I usually make my same pizza recipe at home, but it’s always nice to make something different once in a while. You might think a combination of oregano, cilantro, and fennel seeds is odd, but it makes for a flavorful and different sauce than the usual tomato or marinara, especially with the kick of garlic. The local market I go to sells single containers of herbs for just .99, so you won’t have to buy a big bunch of cilantro–unless you want!
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Mystic Pizza
This recipe first appeared in the March 1998 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package quick-rise yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons cornmeal
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.

2. Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 1/4 cups flour, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; stir to form a soft dough.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.

4. Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray; turn to coat top. Cover; let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

5. Preheat oven to 450°.

6. Punch dough down; roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a baking sheet or 12-inch pizza pan coated with cooking spray and sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough to form a rim. Let dough stand, covered, 10 minutes.

7. Place a small saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, oregano, cilantro, fennel seeds, pepper, and tomato sauce; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring occasionally. Spread sauce over pizza crust; sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden. Remove pizza to cutting board; cut into wedges.