When you find yourself in such a state, you’re not going want to stop off at the grocery store to buy ingredients. You want something fast and you want something satisfying. If we happen to catch the last dying rays of sunlight while eating it, all the better (we are nearing the longest day of the year, after all).
Pizza is great for nights like these, especially if you happen to keep a ball of dough in your fridge- as we do, pretty much all the time these days. Weekends are for dough making, weekdays are for pizza eating. It works.
Get home, take the dough out of the fridge, put the pizza stone in the oven, take off pants (oh yeah, I did TWO THINGS before taking off my pants- that’s pretty amazing). By the time I’ve rustled up some experimental topping ingredients from the fridge, the stone is ready and a couple minutes later we have a delicious meal fit for a trendy bistro. Except, of course, I don’t have to wear pants. (high five!)
This recent abundance of late-night post-work pizzas means I have been experimenting a lot with toppings, dependent on what happens to be in my house on any given evening. I’ll be honest, not all of my clean-out-the-fridge combos have turned out blog-worthy, but some of them… some have totally blown me away.
My new jam? The sauce-less pizza. I made a winner a couple weeks back with my Mushroom Pizza Bianco with Truffle Oil & Fresh Herbs. It was such a hit I started thinking- why does pizza need sauce?
Yes, a lot of pizzas work better with some kind of base. But not all. Not all.
As I rifle through my fridge, I try and come up with a flavour profile- a combination that balances flavours in such a way that they become more than the sum of their parts.
Sweet- strawberry, smoky/salty- bacon, sour- balsamic, creamy/tart/rich- goat cheese, fresh/herbal- basil.
At first I played with using balsamic as a base… too tart, too overwhelming.
Okay, what about strawberry jam with a little balsamic? Too sweet, too desserty.
Step it back, the flavours are really good but let’s strip it down to basics. Fresh strawberries. I love using fresh strawberries in this- they become sweet and jammy in the oven but still retain their texture due to the hot and fast baking method- plus it’s a great use for some truly spectacular seasonal produce. The balsamic reduction is sweet and sour, but drizzled lightly on top doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the ingredients. Instead, it makes the strawberry flavour really pop.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that my local strawberries are currently in season and that the basil in my garden has finally taken off…
Oh right, I forgot to mention the red onion! Yep, don’t miss that. Once again, the first iterations of this pizza skipped the onion… don’t do that. The savoury kick from the onion ties in nicely with the bacon and goat cheese meaning that, despite the sweet strawberries, this pizza is decidedly main course material.
Then again, if you’re like me and would rather have seconds (or thirds) of dinner instead of dessert… well, I guess you can call this pizza dessert too then.
So, as we enter summer and the days grow long and warm and I am stuck in an overly air conditioned office, I can rest easy knowing that when I do get out, I will be able to sit in my backyard and munch through a thoroughly satisfying bite of summertime. I can practically taste the day’s sunshine.
(but also, um, is it the weekend yet? Because I would also like to feel the day’s sunshine one of these days 😉 )
|Strawberry Bacon Pizza with Fresh Basil, Goat Cheese & Balsamic Reduction|| |
- Pizza Dough:*
- 1⅓ cups warm water
- 2¼ tsp instant yeast
- 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Coarse semolina, to dust
- 4-5 large strawberries, sliced
- 3 rashers bacon, cooked until crispy and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup goat cheese, crumbled
- ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped
- Balsamic reduction, to drizzle
- To make dough: Preheat oven to 200°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine water and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until yeast has dissolved and mixture is frothy. Add in flour, sugar, salt, and olive oil; knead on a low speed for 5-10 minutes until dough has formed. It should be elastic and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl; cover with aluminum foil, and place bowl in the oven. TURN OVEN OFF. Let the dough rise in the warm oven for about 2 hours until it has doubled in size. Divide into two balls of dough, then use one for the remainder of this recipe. (Prepare another pizza with the second ball of dough, or store in the fridge for another night.)
- Remove dough from oven, place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet into the oven. Crank the heat on the oven up to 500 degrees. Let the stone heat for at least 30 minutes in the oven.
- Dust a flat surface with some coarse semolina and stretch out the portion of pizza dough you will be using. Take the heated pizza stone/tray out of the oven and transfer the dough directly on to it. This will cause the dough to start cooking right away, ensuring a nice and crispy crust.
- Top with bacon, strawberries, red onion and goat cheese. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until the cheese and crust are lightly browned.
- Remove from oven and top with basil, freshly ground black pepper. Finish off with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and serve immediately.