Last year we spent our Labor Day at Stony Creek Farm in the Catskills. It was a “farm-stay” getaway, the latest trend in agritourism where you get to harvest your own vegetables for dinner, collect freshly-laid, still-warm eggs right from a henhouse, then cook it all up on a wood-burning stove in your tented cabin. Because it was a Feather Down Farm (one of three in the US), we weren’t exactly roughing it — there was a bathroom in the cabin, there were clean, soft sheets, there were enclosed bunk beds for the girls that had little hearts carved into the doors. I wrote about it for the September issue of Whole Living (no specific link yet; you’ll have to pick it up on the newsstand) if you are interested in learning more, but what I really wanted to tell you about here is the green tomato and caramelized onion pizza that the owners of the farm baked for us on “Pizza Night.” (Every Feather Down Farm has this ritual.) Almost a year later, the pizza, with its distinct sweet-and-sour freshness, was still at the top of my ever-growing mental checklist of “Things I Must Attempt to Replicate.” (Also on the list: Philip Roth’s Writing…book club tonight: American Pastoral!) We did it last weekend, and though we didn’t have an outdoor brick oven like they did at the farm, we had Jim Lahey’s no-fail pizza crust…which was just as mind-blowing.
Green Tomato and Caramelized Onion Pizza
If you don’t think the kids are going to go for green tomatoes, you can swap in red ones for “their side” of the pie.
3 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or other active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cup room-temperature water
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 green tomatoes, sliced
1 large onion, sliced and caramelized (Cook slices in olive oil on low heat for 15-30 minutes, adding the tiniest touch of balsamic at the end if you want; it’s impossible to overcook them.)
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, 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. Divide the pizza dough in two and shape each into flattened balls. Freeze one for later and stretch the other one out to fill an oiled, rimmed, rectangular cookie sheet (using your fingers and the heels of your hands).
Distribute mozzarella on the crust evenly, then top with onions and tomato slices. (Reserve a few tomato slices to add to pizza after it has been baked.) Bake for 15 minutes until crust looks crispy and golden and cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven, add the reserved tomatoes and some fresh Parmesan.