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Pizza Lovers: Can You Top This?

August 03, 1995|MARION CUNNINGHAM

If you make pizza, why stick to only three or four toppings? Why limit yourself to what you can get at a pizza parlor? Why not go for a whole meal?

Feeling a little adventurous the other day, I started playing with pizza. On half of the pizza I spread thin slices of fresh tomato (gently squeezed to reduce the amount of juice) that had been sprinkled with salt, pepper, olive oil and minced garlic. I added a handful of grated cheese for the last minute or two of baking.

On the other half of the pizza, I put a single layer of fresh, sliced peaches sprinkled with sugar. In other words, I made a "Meal on a Wheel"--savory and sweet, the whole deal.

To keep the flavors from mingling, after rolling and stretching the dough, I put a slender strip down the middle of the pizza, firmly pressing it into place. I also baked the pizza a few minutes before putting on the toppings so that the crust would be slightly dry and crisp.

Not willing to leave well enough alone, I next tried repeating the tomato topping, but leaving half of the pizza empty while baking. As soon as it was done, I piled a salad of crisp, chilled greens on the empty half. It looked quite wonderful on the "wheel," and it tasted very good on the warm crust when it was cut in wedges.

MEAL ON A WHEEL

PIZZA DOUGH

1 package active dry yeast

Pinch of sugar

1 3/4 cups warm water

1 tablespoon olive oil

Approximately 3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

Oil to coat pizza pans

In large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast and pinch sugar over 1/4 cup warm water. Stir and let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups water, olive oil, 2 1/2 cups flour and salt, mixing thoroughly. If dough seems very sticky, mix in up to 1/2 cup flour more. Turn out dough onto floured board and pat together. Knead dough until silky, about 7 or 8 minutes, adding additional flour as needed if dough seems too sticky to handle. Place dough in large oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Remove egg-sized piece of dough from one half and set aside. Either using rolling pin or stretching by hand, spread remainder of that half into large round about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick on floured board.

Place dough round on oiled pizza pan and tuck dough under all around edges. Take reserved small piece of dough and roll between palms into rope as long as diameter of pizza. Firmly press rope across middle of pizza.

TOPPINGS

3 cloves garlic

5 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium-size tomatoes, cut in half, gently squeezed to get rid of juice, sliced about 1/4-inch thick

Salt and pepper

6 ripe freestone peaches, peeled and sliced

2/3 cup sugar (more or less, depending on how sweet peaches are)

2 cups grated Monterey Jack or Fontina cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)

Stir together garlic and olive oil in small bowl.

Lay tomato slices flat on counter and liberally salt and pepper.

Bake pizza at 450 degrees 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from oven and arrange half of tomato slices in 1 layer on half of pizza. Stir garlic/oil mixture and dribble half over tomato slices.

Place half of peach slices in overlapping layer on remaining pizza half. Sprinkle about 1/3 cup sugar evenly over slices.

Return pizza to oven. After 7 or 8 minutes, check pizza; tomatoes and peaches should be bubbling and sugar should have melted on peaches. Sprinkle cheese evenly over tomato topping and let pizza bake until cheese has melted, about 1 or 2 minutes.

Remove from oven and cut down middle. Cut each half into 4 wedges.

Repeat with remaining dough and toppings.

* Makes 2 (14-inch) pizzas, about 6 servings.

* Each serving contains about:

601 calories; 599 mg sodium; 25 mg cholesterol; 23 grams fat; 85 grams carbohydrates; 15 grams protein; 0.90 gram fiber.

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