Remember those Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas you got for reading x amount of books in a week back in grade school? Nothing was more rewarding than sinking my teeth passed the crunchy burnt cheese, the boiling-lava-hot marinara, into that thick golden hot crust. The satisfaction I got from those weekly pizzas almost made up for every Friday’s microwaved rectangle on a paper plate. Almost.
But now, in 2013 (and probably every year, no, every month before that) I wanted to experience all of that again. I wanted that sensation of rebelliousness you get from eating a slice of thick crust entrenched in thin-crust territory. And I wanted to show some love to the cast iron pans I found in the kitchen. So I did when I made my own personal pan pizza. And when I say “my own”, I mean “my own that my vegetarian boyfriend can also enjoy”. Which is fine, too.
I haven’t let myself go while cooking in a long time. How did it feel, you ask? Oh, it only felt amazing; I surrendered all of my problems to the air and invested my entire self into cooking. It’s a rush, it’s a high, it’s something you get if you get food. And if you get food, you’ll appreciate this: Cast Iron Fennel and Broccolini Pizza with Roasted Puttanesca and Fresh Ricotta. Yup. Take that. And eat it. My boyfriend and I did.
Cast Iron Fennel and Broccolini Pizza
- 1-16 ounce pizza dough(store-bought)
- 1/2 cup roasted puttanesca sauce (recipe below)
- 1/2 cup fresh ricotta (recipe below)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 stalks broccolini, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 bulb fennel, sliced paper-thin
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
Preheat oven to 400°. In a small pan over high heat, saute broccolini with garlic and 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from pan and set aside. Toss fennel in 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Dust workspace with flour and roll out dough to a circle about 12-inches wide using your hands or a rolling pin. Place dough in a greased or well-seasoned 9-inch cast iron pan, making sure the dough is in full-contact with the bottom and sides of the pan. Using a rolling pin or a knife, remove any excess dough hanging over the sides. Fold the dough along the sides over itself to create crust (a good opportunity to stuff it with cheese!).
Before topping dough, dock, or poke holes into, the bottom crust to ensure it does not rise in the baking process. Spread sauce in an even layer. Repeat with ricotta, fennel, and broccolini. Sprinkle with oregano. Fold any dough on sides toward the center if you forgot to make crust earlier. Drizzle remaining olive oil over crust to promote browning.
Set cast iron pan over high heat for 3 minutes. Transfer to preheated oven and bake until crust is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove pizza from the pan using a spatula. Cut into slices and serve hot.
Roasted Puttanesca Sauce
yields 1 1/2 pints
- 4 plum tomatoes, halved
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 2 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
Preheat oven to 400°. Zest and juice lemon and set aside, separately. Combine oil, vinegar and lemon juice.
Toss tomatoes, onion, garlic, and lemon zest together in vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer vegetables to a baking tray lined with parchment paper and roast in oven until tomatoes and onions caramelize slightly, about 20 minutes and stirring 10 minutes in. Remove vegetables from oven and allow to cool slightly. Drain and reserve any liquid, or jus, that accumulates.
When cooled, transfer vegetables to food processor/blender. Process until sauces reaches desired consistency. If sauce is too thick, add jus as needed. Add remaining ingredients and combine. Serve hot. Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 1 week or freeze up to 4 months.
yields 1 pint
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Line a large sieve with cheesecloth and place over sink or large bowl. In a large stock pot, combine milk, cream and salt. Slowly bring mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients and stir until milk curds separate from whey. Remove from heat and pour mixture through sieve. Allow liquid to drain for about 30 minutes. Transfer ricotta to airtight container. Cool in fridge up to 2 days.