Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spinach Pizza

A while back I went looking for a spinach pizza recipe. Nothing I came across really struck my fancy. Maybe because I had a very specific idea about what I wanted. Jim Leahy did a spinach pizza on Martha Stewart's show where you put cheese on the crust than cover it with fresh spinach and put it in the oven, when it is done the spinach has wilted a little bit and browned on the top, then he sprinkles it with a some olive oil (you can't embed videos from Martha Stewart so if you're interested in watching here's the link.) Something about this recipe struck me as too healthy, and also I was making it for a large group so as interesting as I found this pizza I passed on it. Then it occurred to me that what I really wanted was a pizza like I'd had at Artichoke, where their signature slice is basically artichoke dip on a pizza covered in mozzarella.

Here is what I came up with:

Spinach Pizza

The Dough:

In a large bowl add: 3 cups bread flour and 3/4 of a cup whole wheat bread or all purpose flour (you can add all white flour if you want, but if you do reduce the water to 1 1/3 cups) 2 teaspoons of yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 1/2 cups rooms temperature water, mix with your hands, bringing the dough together until it forms a smooth ball. Knead for a minute or two then cover with a tea towel or a plastic bag you're in need of recycling and let rest in a warm place 2 1/2 hours.

The Spinach Bechamel:

Wash and trim 1 pound of spinach.

In a large skillet add 1/4 cup of olive oil and 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced, cook the garlic in the oil over medium high heat for a minute or two, but don't let the garlic brown.

Add the spinach and saute until it is completely wilted.

Season the cooked spinach with salt, freshly ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon (or more to taste) of lemon juice.

Place the entire contents of the skillet into a sieve which is placed over a medium size bowl.
Press hard against the spinach mixture to expel as much moisture as possible.

Place the drained spinach in a bowl, cover and place aside.

Take the strained spinach liquid and measure it out - it should be about a cup. Add enough whole milk to the spinach liquid to make 2 cups. Reserve.

It should be noted here that if you want a more creamy result you can use just 2 cups of whole milk you don't need to use the spinach liquid and in the pictures here I didn't, but only because I needed to make the bechamel in a hurry earlier in the day. I think the spinach liquid it adds an intensity of flavor that is wonderful.

In a heavy skillet melt 3 T unsalted butter with 3 tablespoons of flour, cook over medium heat until the butter has melted and the flour and butter have integrated, cook for 2 for 3 minutes then, in 1/2 cup increments, whisk in the spinach/milk liquid.

Once all the liquid has been added turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring often for about 25 minutes.

Add a pinch of cayenne, a generous grating of fresh nutmeg, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in the spinach, adjust seasoning.

Cover with a piece of parchment or wax paper directly on the surface of the sauce.
Keep at room temperature until the dough is ready.

Grate 1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese.

Slice 1/2 pound of Pawlet cheese from Consider Bardwell Farm (or Monterrey Jack or Havarti Cheese) into thin slices or chunks for spreading on the top of the cheese.

Assembling the Pizza:

Preheat your oven to 500 F.

There is enough dough here for 2 12x16" cookie sheet pizzas or two 14" round ones.

Cut the ball of dough in half with a dough cutter or sharp knife, don't rip it.

Cover the pan you are using with olive oil and spread out the dough.

Pour the spinach bechamel over the crust and spread it evenly with a spatula

Sprinkle the spinach bechamel with the grated Parmesan and scatter evenly the slice Pawlet.

Place in the preheated oven on a pizza stone (if you have one) and cook until browned on top and bottom (I always lift the crust just to take a peak and make sure it's as golden as I want it).

If you used a sheet pan/cookie sheet, wait a few minutes then remove the pizza to a large cutting board to slice. This pizza is truly addictive!

Here's mine going into the oven.
For my other pizza (as the pizza dough recipe makes 2) I made a classic version with tomato sauce, Parmesan and fresh mozzarella.

And just before I served this I scattered a bunch of chopped basil leaves everywhere, but forgot to take a picture!


Philip said...

Looks amazingly yummy! My current favorite pizza out is Spinach/Garlic at Frank Pepe's here in Fairfield:

ChrisSkip in AVL said...

BOTH these pizzas look amazing! Love the b├ęchamel and nutmeg on the spinach pizza. Keep showing the post to Skip, I want him to make it.

ChrisSkip in AVL said...

Another thing, since it's like a big artichoke dip Skip's gotta make it. That's one of his favorite foods--if it's on a menu I can always count on him ordering it.

Might even add some ARTICHOKES.

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