Date Night Pizza

March 30th, 2011 · 17 Comments · Dinner, Rituals, Vegetarian

I’m not quite sure how this happened, but last Friday night, Andy and I managed to have a nice quiet dinner at home — just the two of us — even though there were six girls under nine years old in our house as we did so. It was Dinner-and-a-Movie night — P and A were allowed to invite a few friends over for pizza, ice cream sundaes, and a screening of Despicable Me — and it was pure madness until we pressed play on the DVD player. At that point, we 2.0′ed the kids’ basic mozzarella-and-marinara pizza and made this arugula-and-ricotta version, then poured a glass of Pinot and had an actual, audible conversation.

White Pizza with Arugula

Preheat oven to 500°F. Using your fingers, flatten and “push” 1 ball of pizza dough (preferably Jim Lahey’s homemade) as thin as you can on an olive-oiled cookie sheet. Cover dough with slices of fresh mozzarella (about 1 ball) and brush exposed edge of crust with a little olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes until crust is crispy and cheese is bubbly. (If cheese starts to bubble before crust looks done, cover center of pizza with foil.) While pizza bakes, toss together a few handfuls of arugula with 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, 1/3 cup olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon. Top pizza with salad and dollops of fresh ricotta. Finish with a few grinds of black pepper and a few leaves of fresh oregano if you have it.

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A New Year’s Challenge. Sort of.

January 4th, 2011 · 16 Comments · Dinner, Vegetarian

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. (more…)

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Salad Pizza

November 9th, 2010 · 19 Comments · Dinner, Vegetarian

Was it Michael Moss’ terrifying article on cheese in Sunday’s Times? Was it the passing mention of Sal’s, my favorite pizzeria from childhood? The only place I ever ordered Dr. Pepper and the only place I had ever heard of that served cheese-less, salad pizza. Whatever the reason, salad pizza was on my brain all day yesterday — even during a fancy midtown lunch that included lobster — so that’s what was on the dinner table at 7:00. Or at least, that was what was on mom’s and dad’s plate at 7:00. The kids couldn’t make the leap, so just had their salad on the side. (more…)

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Split-Personality Pizza

April 1st, 2010 · 4 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

I called Jenny on the way home from work tonight:

“I’m running for the 6:23 train, yeah, be home by seven, work was fine, need me to pick anything up? And oh, what do you feel like for dinner.”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Let me look–hold on–Girls, turn DOWN the Michael Jackson!”

I could hear her open the freezer, rifle around. “We have some chicken.”

Nah, not feeling chicken. Sick of chicken.

“We could do pasta.” I had pasta for lunch.

“Wait,” she said, “There’s a Jim Lahey pizza crust in here!” Pizza sounded good. “Okay, what should we have on it?” she asked. For some reason, I wanted potatoes…and cheddar cheese and caramelized onions. She raised no objections. I told her I’d make it, if she would defrost the crust and slice up some potatoes.

Forty-five minutes later, I got home to a crust on a baking sheet, a bowl of sliced red potatoes (about 1/4 inch thick, skins still on), and a preheated oven. The kids were upstairs in the bath. The dog did not appear to need walking. I went to work.

We didn’t have much in the refrigerator, pizza-wise, so I grabbed some olive oil, salt, fresh thyme, chives, an onion, and Trader Joe’s Mexican blend of shredded cheese. I boiled the potatoes in salted water for about eight minutes to soften them up and sauteed a sliced onion while I got the rest of my ingredients ready. “Do you think the kids will eat this?”  I asked as I was assembling. “Probably not,” she said. The girls were now in the kitchen in their bathrobes. Hungry. “Why don’t you make them a regular cheese pizza?” We had no mozzarella, but we did have a few sticks of string cheese, which I diced up and sprinkled over some marinara. I did a half cheese, half potato, and put it in the oven for about fifteen minutes at 500°F. As usual, the pizza crust came out exactly the way it always does (perfect, and infinitely better than a storebought crust), and thirty minutes after walking in the door, dinner was ready.

The kids did try the potato version, by the way. (We sold it to them as french fry pizza.) It appears they will allow us to move it into our rotation.

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