Careful readers may have picked up in yesterday’s post that we have decided to cut back on meat for at least the first two weeks of January in our house. (I say “at least” because secretly I really want to do it for the whole month, but to the girls, that’s like saying to them that they won’t eat a burger for 100 years.) It wasn’t that this holiday season was so much more indulgent than any others — though there was that party with the giant pig’s leg that might as well still have had the hoof on it — it’s just that limiting meat is sometimes the easiest way for me to feel healthy and inspired about cooking again. I know this sounds strange, but when I leave meat out of the equation, it forces me flex other culinary muscles a bit more. I have to work a little harder to make things taste good and usually I end up discovering some random ingredient like, say, tamarind paste that I can’t believe I’ve lived almost four decades without. (Also, invariably, I end up eating too much coconut and avocado.)
As always, there are exceptions to our rules. We will eat fish. And if we are served meat at someone’s house, we would never for one second breathe word of our challenge to a single soul present. Oh, and there’s the lunch packing. As we all know, this endeavor is brutal enough already without worrying about restrictions, so we’re green-lighting the turkey sandwiches. So far, so good. As mentioned yesterday, we launched the year with Bon App’s cover recipe (replacing the chicken with shrimp); then Night Two we went with this basic mushroom and onion pizza. I experimented a bit with the whole wheat flour in our trusty Jim Lahey crust, and we couldn’t believe how good it was. As usual, the girls drew a line down the center of the dough with a knife and chose to adorn their side with marinara and mozz. Which was just fine with us.
Mushroom and Onion Pizza on (Partly) Whole Wheat Crust
Adapted from Jim Lahey’s My Bread
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or other active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cup room-temperature water
1 medium onion, sliced and tossed with olive oil
1 cup mushrooms (any kind, we used white) sliced and sauteed in olive oil with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme
extra olive oil
In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. The dough will be stiff, not wet and sticky. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 500°F. Smush the pizza dough into a ball and drop it on the center of an oiled rimmed baking sheet. Using your fingers, press out and flatten the dough so it spreads out to all four corners. This always takes longer than I think and makes my fingertips ache a bit, so I usually let the kids help. (If you are doing split-personality pizzas, draw a line with a knife down the middle of the pizza to divide the “kid” side from the “grown-up” side. Cover the kid side with marinara or pizza sauce and a few slices of fresh mozzarella.)
Place mozzarella slices on the grown-up side so it covers as much of the dough as possible. Sprinkle with onions, mushrooms, and thyme leaves. Brush any exposed dough (specifically the edges) with extra olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.
We served with an arugula salad tossed with freshly grated Parm and basic vinaigrette.