Monday, October 24, 2016

Zucchini Pizza

The recipes for the pizza and dough are both from Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman calls for a 9”x13” half-sheet pan, but I don’t have those. My pan is about 11”x17”, if I remember correctly, so I made the full recipe of her dough (instead of the 2/3 that she recommends), but even then, I didn’t have enough to cover the pan. It did feel like enough pizza in all, though, but I would have preferred it if it had covered all the surface nicely… Next time, I might increase the dough proportions by a third, especially since I didn’t want a too-thin, crispy dough. Keep in mind that this dough, if you make it, is soft and doesn’t stretch easily, so you can’t just roll it out to the desired size. You could always buy your dough, too, if that’s easier, or use your favorite recipe. I really liked this pizza, though I must admit that the Little Prince was a bit disappointed at the lack of tomato sauce and the high vegetable-to-cheese ratio.

Note that you have options for this pizza dough, depending on your schedule: an overnight schedule (beginning at around 8-9 pm the night before, for dinner around 6-8 pm); an all-day schedule (beginning at around 6-8 am that morning); and a part-day schedule (beginning at around 12 pm). I chose the latter.

For the dough
3 cups (375 g.) all-purpose flour (bread flour works too)
slightly heaped 1/8, 1/4 or 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (for overnight, all-day, or part-day schedules respectively, above)
1 ½ tsp. sea or kosher salt
1 ¼ cup warm water, plus an additional tablespoon or two if needed

In a very large bowl, mix all ingredients with a spoon. The dough will be craggy and rough; this is fine, but if it feels excessively so, add another spoonful or even two of water. Cover bowl with plastic and keep at room temperature for approximately 22 (for overnight schedule), 12 (for all-day schedule) or 6 (for part-day schedule) hours, or until the dough has more than doubled. This takes longer in a chilly room and less in a very warm one, but don’t worry too much about this, as the dough is generally forgiving of a loosened schedule. (I like to put my dough in the microwave with the door ajar, which keeps it safe from drafts and provides warmth from the lightbulb.)

Flour your counter very well. Scrape dough out of bowl onto floured counter; in the time it has risen, it should have changed from that craggy rough ball to something very loose, soft, sticky and stretchy. Flour the top of the dough and make it into a ball shape (if you are making two smaller pizzas with it, divide it into two balls first). Take hold of it and let the soft dough stretch and fall away from your hands a few times before landing on your prepared baking sheet. Use floured fingers to press and nudge dough into a roughly rectangular shape. Add desired toppings (see below).

For the zucchini topping
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 ½ lbs. (about 5 small or 3 large) zucchini or other summer squash, trimmed
1 ½ tsp. fine sea salt
2 cups (8 oz.) coarsely grated lactose-free gruyere cheese
2-3 Tbsp. plain breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 500 °F. Brush either a 13”x18” rimmed half-sheet pan or two 9”x13” quarter sheet pans (see note above) with olive oil. Used floured (or oiled) fingertips to pull, stretch, nudge and press the prepared pizza dough across the bottom of the pan. The dough will be thin and imperfect; just try to get it even and if holes form, just pinch them back together. (This is where I was unhappy with my dough, aesthetically speaking, but the result was very good nonetheless.)

Use a food processor with a grater attachment or the large holes of a box grater to grate the zucchini. In a large bowl, toss together the zucchini and salt. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes (more, if you have the time), until the zucchini has wilted and released its water. Drain the zucchini in a colander and then use your hands to squeeze out as much water as possible, a fistful at a time.

Back in the large bowl (wiped out if still wet), toss the zucchini with the gruyère shreds, being sure to break up any clumps of zucchini. Taste the mixture; it should be seasoned enough from the salt, but you can add more, plus ground pepper or pepper flakes if desired.

Spread the zucchini mixture over the dough(s), going all the way to the edges of the pan and piling it a bit thicker at the edges, where it will brown first. Sprinkle messily with the bread crumbs.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the topping is golden. Remove from oven, cut into squares and dig in.

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