Thursday, June 19, 2008

Prosciutto and Veggie Pizza

It is pretty easy to make pizza dough however, for a quick meal I just grab the ready-made pizza dough while shopping for my weekly groceries at Trader Joe's. My favorite is the Garlic and Herb dough because it adds a bit more flavor. About 20-30 minutes before you are getting ready to set up you want to take the dough out of the refrigerator, remove it from the plastic bag and let it sit on a lightly, floured board. You will leave the dough there for 20 minutes giving it time to get to room temperature and acclimate.

As the dough is sitting, I set up my ingredients for a pizza: 3 slices of prosciutto, cut into smaller pieces (you could fry these up and add them as crisp bits - al la bacon bits); 4 crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced; 2 scallions, with green tops included and chopped; 1/2 cup of tomato/pasta sauce; and approximately 1 cup of shredded cheese (I have a four cheese blend and some Mozzarella.

I set the oven to bake and preheat it to 450 degrees. Then I take out a cookie sheet with no sides and lightly spray it with olive oil. When my dough has been sitting for about 20 minutes, I gently knead it (adding more flour as necessary) and roll it a bit with a rolling pin. It takes a bit of work to stretch out the dough to a 10" circle as it keeps shrinking back down. As you get it close to the size you want, put it on the greased cookie sheet and continue to work and shape it. The oil should help keep it stretched out but don't hesitate to start adding your toppings.

Spread the tomato sauce around the dough and try to coat it as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the chopped scallions over the sauce; then carefully spread the prosciutto over everything; top that with the mushrooms (you could saute them a bit first but in the interest of saving dishes I keep them raw); and finally I cover everything with shredded cheese - add more or less per your preference.

Pop the sheet with the pizza into the hot oven and set the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes - if the bottom of the crust seems to be firming up - slide it off the cookie sheet directly onto the oven rack to cook another 10 minutes. [To prevent drippings in your oven, place the cookie sheet on the rack directly below the pizza.] Using a cookie sheet without sides allows you to transition the pizza on and off and then back onto the sheet as necessary. When removing the pizza from the oven, you will want to put it back onto the cookie sheet because it is easier to deal with and you can cut it directly on the pan.

The dough of this pizza is a bit thicker than I prefer but it has a nice flavor and it fits the bill of a quick wholesome dinner. I serve the pizza with a side salad of heirloom tomatoes with a dash of basil infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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