Mmmmmm…pizza, a true love for everyone. One of my favorite dinners growing up was make-your-own-pizza night. My mom would buy the boxed pizza dough mix, shredded mozzarella, canned tomato sauce, along with the various topping choices (sausage, pepperoni, canned mushrooms, green onions, etc). She would mix the dough together and press it into various cooking pans and tins. Our pizzas were always different shapes and sizes, because with five kids everyone wanted their own pizza; and who has five pizza baking dishes? Not us. It didn’t matter to us, we were just excited to get to put whatever we wanted on the pizza. Then my mom would pop each one into the oven and we would devour our own personal pizzas, while my dad would attempt to snag a piece from each of ours as well as his own. Not only did we get our own personal pizza, make-your-own-pizza night was a way to bring everyone together in the kitchen. I’m sure it was a pain for my mom to organize and clean up after all of us, but it always brought us together.
Now I make my own pizza. I prefer pesto pizzas on a thin crust. I enjoy how the nuts from the pesto toast in the oven, lending a sweet and nutty flavor to the crust. I also prefer vegetable pizzas, which I’m sure you could gather from the blog title. Mushrooms are still a common topping for my pizzas, but they are sauteed cremini or button mushrooms, not canned. I also eschew the boxed crust and make my own. It’s not that hard, and if you plan ahead you can make it the night before you want pizza and let it rise overnight, which actually enriches the flavor.
This pizza uses green tomatoes fresh from the farmers’ market. I think the green tomatoes work better on the pizza because they hold their shape in the heat and have a milder flavor so they do not overpower the mushrooms. I use arugula and walnut pesto, because we’ve had a lot of arugula lately and walnuts are cheaper than pine nuts, but provide a similar texture and flavor.
So invite the family or some friends over and enjoy their company with some pizza. You will make them smile and wonder how you concocted such a delicious and unique pizza. You can share your secret or just enjoy their praise.
Green Tomato and Mushroom Pizzacrust from Smitten Kitchen 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon dry active yeast 1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need 1-2 tablespoons more) 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pesto 2 tablespoons olive oil 10 oz cremini or button mushrooms, sliced 1/2 an onion, thinly sliced 1 clove garlic, minced 2 green tomatoes, sliced 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese salt and pepper
Crust By Hand: In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt and yeast. Next add in the water and 1 tablespoon olive oil and combine with a wooden spoon. When dough is mostly into a ball but still shaggy, pour out onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a homogenous ball, 2-5 minutes. If you are having trouble bringing the ball together add a little more water 1 teaspoon at a time. If you are having trouble forming the ball into a homogeneous dough, cover the dough with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Then return to the dough and try again.
Crust in a Stand Mixer: In the bowl of the stand mixer add the flour, salt and yeast. Attach the dough hook and mix the dry ingredients together on a low setting. Next pour in the water and olive oil and crank up the speed of the dough hook to medium. Allow the dough to come together into a ball and homogeneous mixture, 2-3 minutes. If you are having trouble bringing the ball together add a little more water 1 teaspoon at a time.
Lightly oil the original bowl and place the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to raise for 1-2 hours or until it doubles in size. You can also make the dough in the evening and place it in the refrigerator to raise overnight.
Once the dough has risen, gently punch down the dough and knead it a little more by hand in the bowl, 1-2 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes and set your oven to 525 degrees.
While the dough is resting, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Slice the mushrooms and add them to the skillet, tossing them in the oil. Thinly slice the onion and add it to the skillet, tossing it together with the mushrooms. Sautee the mushrooms and onions for 8-10 minutes until the mushrooms have release their liquid and start to brown. Mince the garlic and add it to the skillet with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Continue sauteing for another 2-3 minutes, until the mushrooms and onions are browned then remove from heat.
On a thin cookie sheet or the bottom of a baking sheet sprinkle corn meal. Once the dough has rested, gently stretch the dough onto the sheet. Spread the pesto onto the dough into an even layer. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese on to the pesto. Spread the mushroom and onion mixture onto the pizza into an even layer. Place the green tomato slices on top of the mushrooms and sprinkle the slices with salt and pepper (1/2 salt and 1/4 pepper). Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella over the pizza. Place the pizza into the 525 degree oven and bake for 6-8 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese starts to brown. Remove from oven, slice and serve.