The anti-cooking bug has worn off completely–it vanished almost as quickly as the cold weather. Sunny skies and 65 degree weather replaced yesterday’s chilly floors. The lovely weather reminded me of Rome on a nice fall day, so I was struck with a fierce pizza craving. I wanted “un’etto” of pizza al taglio, the plank-like slabs of pizza sold by weight all over the Eternal City. Specifically, I wanted the bresaola & arugula pizza from Pizzeria Via Florida.
Lacking a round-trip plane ticket or a magic carpet, I had to make my own pizza, topped with nothing more than Cento’s San Marzano tomato passata*, a few pearls of fresh mozzarella, and a sprinkling of aged Parmesan…an ideal lunch, hot from the oven. But wait, simple pizza can achieve so much more: just after baking, toss on a few handsful of baby greens (ideally arugula) and paper-thin slices of bresaola, and fold a section of pizza into the perfect sandwich. Bitter greens, salty beef, melted cheese, and hot, crisp crust, all in one bite.
To achieve balance between crisp and chewy, I used Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough (from My Bread, p 117), baked on a sheet pan. This dough is easy to handle, stretches easily to fill a 18″ half-sheet pan, and freezes nicely….here are the proportions:
- 500 grams bread flour
- 10 grams instant yeast
- 5 grams sea salt
- 3 grams sugar
- 300 grams room temperature water
Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl for 2-3 minutes, until flour is evenly hydrated. Rest at room temperature, covered, until doubled. Use immediately to make two half-sheet sized crusts, or divide and refrigerate (for a day or two) or freeze (for several months) until needed. Defrost frozen dough at room temperature at least 2 hours prior to cooking. Stretch risen (or defrosted) dough into desired shape on an oiled sheet pan, top sparingly with tomato puree and fresh mozzarella, and cook in a preheated 500 degree oven until browned & crisp (8-12 minutes; precise timing depends on the amount & kind of toppings).
Once baked, slice into long rectangles and top with shaved Parmesan, baby greens and thinly sliced bresaola (or proscuitto, or coppa, or your favorite paper-thin Italian meats).
*Tomato passata is seeded, skinned tomato puree, sold in glass bottles or aseptic packaging.