Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Pizza to Remember

Direct from a long day spent in a canoe, Meg's sister, Tessa joined us at this week's Wednesday Dinner as our special guest.

We were all starving and had little energy to make an elaborate meal. We decided on healthy but quick pizzas made from available ingredients. Pizza worked out well as we had some additional dietary restrictions to creatively adapt to.

As a kid, I was introduced to english muffin pizzas - I thought these were my mother's ingenious invention - and I realized one food could be repurposed, transformed into something altogether different. I would never have connected the salty flavour of an english muffin with butter or peanut butter to the sweet, cheesy english muffin pizza. With all our experiences now at Wednesday Dinners, it's amazing one of my food epiphanies came from an english muffin.

*an aside*All those commercials claiming frozen pizza in a box can be mistaken for authentic pizzeria fare will only fool those who have never made their own pizza from scratch or those who have never made their own pizza from everyday ingredients. As long as we move past these frozen fake flavours into the the wonderful world of homemade pizza, we will all be okay.

Now on with our fabulous pizzas.

We chose to start with a greek pita base - these are the pocketless pitas, more of a thick flatbread. Naan was considered but was overruled due to too many competing flavours.

A sauce, we went non-traditional and made a basil pesto with toasted hazelnuts (as the store was pine-nut deficient). Coarsely blend two bunches of basil, 3 cloves of garlic with enough olive oil to make a paste, follow by a turn with the toasted (peeled) hazelnuts in the mortar and pestle. Pestle until the mixture is spreadable.

Toppings - you can never have too many and the beauty is, this gives options to everyone especially when people have dietary challenges. We chose a sundried tomato & herb turkey sausage (made in store - cut into bite size pieces and cooked at home), goat cheese, and vegetables - portabello mushrooms, zucchini, red onion, orange pepper (which were roasted in the oven for 40 min) and a fresh sliced tomato.

Everyone assembled their own dream pizza and we introduced them to a hot oven for a melding of flavours, crisping of pita and melting of cheese.

This is the best kind of pizza next to the from-scratch version. The possibilities for experiments are endless from basics - anchovies, artichokes, chiles, beans - to decadence - truffles, pine mushrooms, and kobe beef.

This meal is probably one of few places where can you feed 5 ravenous women for $40.

We were so ravenous in fact, we forgot to take a picture until eating was underway.

Let the experimenting begin!!!


Laura said...

I think our pizzas were perfect for that Wednesday, not only because we had varying tastes and food requirements to fill, but also because (as you said) we were all absolutely starving!

That pesto was delicious - I particularly liked the larger bits of hazelnut. I'm glad Meg and I couldn't smush them down into a fine paste; it was a nice variation in texture. The pesto doesn't take too long, and the veg are roasted in the oven but don't really require any prep. Together with the sausage (which we quickly sauteed) and the goat cheese (which we just squished onto the pizza at the end) the whole thing was relatively quick and easy to make.

Leeeeesha said...

I agree about the pesto, Laura - it was delicious! I don't make pesto often enough, myself. Gotta try doing so.

I must say, I think we've thoroughly mastered the art of roasting vegetables. Those roasted portobello mushrooms with balsamic vinegar and olive oil are one of my all-time WeDine favourites.

Tessa said...

Hello girls! I was just getting excited about the prospects of copying your delicious sounding beet and apple salad of this weeks wednesday dinner, when I realized I never commented on this post. So a much belated thank you for including me in your most wonderful wednesday tradition! I hope I have the priveledge of being a guest again someday soon!