Thursday, February 13, 2014

Move Over Takeout

I live in Hammonton, New Jersey. And that pretty much means you can't turn a corner without running into a relative, a blueberry or a pizza shop. Oh, and salons (nail, hair and tanning, natch.)

That's because in this town we're all cousins, we rock the moniker "Blueberry Capital of the World," and there's a whole lot of Italians up in here - who really need to have their nail, hair and tans did at all times.

Despite these cold hard facts, The Jersey Girl loves - and I do mean LOVE LOVES - making homemade pizza. And I've never donned an acrylic nail, (SHUDDERS), or a fake tan (SUPER DUPER SHUDDERS) or dyed my hair. OK. That one's just luck. I'm enjoying these last few months of 37 without ONE gray hair on my head. Thank you, Jesus.

For my last pizza go-around, I pulled a Giada: Arugula Pesto, Ricotta and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza. Not only does it taste magnificent, it looks quite pretty, too. The arugula cheesy topping is a vibrant shade of green while fresh plump tomato slices provide bursts of glorious red. It is the color I SO need during these winter months of cold snowy grayness. Eeck!

The Husband devoured my pizza. And he even ate the leftovers, too. That's when you know you gotta keeper.

My little guy, well he'll take a slice from down the street. Whaddayagonnado?

Arugula Pesto, Ricotta and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza
From "Weeknights with Giada"
By Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4 to 6

Cornmeal, for dusting
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
1 packed cup (1 ounce) arugula
Flour, for dusting
1 (1-pound) ball store-bought pizza dough
Olive oil, for drizzling
2 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

Place and oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle a heavy baking sheet (without sides) with cornmeal.

In a food processor, blend the ricotta, garlic, salt and pepper until smooth. Add the smoked mozzarella and arugula. Pulse until just combined but still chunky.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 14-inch circle, 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Spread the ricotta mixture on top, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange the tomato slices on top and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 15 to 16 minutes, until the crust is golden. Cut into wedges and serve.

Please note: The Jersey Girl shaped her pizza dough into a a rectangle instead of a circle. In addition, she prepared her baking sheet with a light coating of olive oil instead of cornmeal to prevent sticking. She also used a 1/2 tsp. salt when making the arugula cheese mixture. An extra tomato or two may be needed to accommodate the rectangular shape of the pizza.

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