Mmmmmmm pizza

So there's this pizza from a takeout place I love. It's not at all a traditional pizza - no tomato sauce and not a lot of cheese. What kind of freaky pizza am I talking about???

Spinach pizza.

Yep. It may sound weird but it's oh so yummy. The pizza at the pizza place has a base of pesto sauce topped with spinach, diced tomato, red pepper and feta (I think that's all...that's all the stands out in my mind anyway). I've been thinking for awhile that I need to attempt to recreate it but I never seemed to have all the ingredients on hand at the same time. Then this whole veggie box came my way and presto! I had almost everything.

It really doesn't take more than 10-15 minutes to make this pizza dough and it makes enough for one decent sized pizza or two small personal sized ones. Please note that this if for a handmade dough. I don't use a food processor. I don't own a food processor. If you want to give me a food processor I'll gladly accept it though. ;-)

Basic Pizza Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour (if you want to have a whole-wheat or multigrain crust replace 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat or multigrain flour)
1 1/2 tsp quick-rising (instant) dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup hot water (120F/50C)
2 tsp olive oil

In bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. With a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the water and olive oil (I add the olive oil to the water, it's just easier that way) until dough forms. At this point I normally toss the wooden spoon and use my hands. When I comes to dough I tend to be a "hands on" person.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic (mine was fine after about 5 minutes). You're going to want a stable surface. Personally I prefer countertops. When I knead I tend to put my weight behind it and, well, tables move.

When you've kneaded your dough, place it in a bowl greased with olive oil, turning the dough so that it's greased on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. I like to place it on top of the stove and turn the oven on low so there's a steady warmth around the dough. But I live in a basement. If I had a kitchen that got sun I'd place it on the sunny countertop or table.

While the dough was rising I plotted the rest of my meal. I don't really like pesto. I know, somewhere out there someone just fell over. Sorry. I can't help it. But I needed something to get that basily, garlicky flavour in there.

*warning* The following section contains no actual measurements - the measurements are really just guestimations. When I cook I do not measure although measuring is essential for baking until you get really, really good at it (takes way longer than with cooking).

I poured about 1/4 cup of olive oil into a bowl. I then added about 1 tablespoon of dried basil and whisked it together. I minced 2 garlic cloves with some salt until they were almost a paste. I added this to the olive oil, stirred it all together with my mini-whisk and let it sit so the basil could rehydrate.***

I took stock of how much feta I had in the fridge and decided that it might not be enough. So I hoofed it to the grocery store to be greeted with my approximation of hell. For someone reason everyone and their children decided to go grocery shopping at the exact same time I did. And the store was short-staffed so there were only 3 cashiers. I wandered around and even though I had only come for feta, cereal (which I almost forgot to get) and some cleanser I ended up getting way more. I was hoping that by taking extra time the lines would magically disappear. They didn't. And there seemed to be a lot of shrieking children in line. When I got through the cashier I practically bolted out of the store (I actually thought about abandoning my groceries because I couldn't take the shrieking but I might need that feta!) .

By the time I got home and put away my goodies it was time to rescue the rising dough.

I turned the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneaded it for a minute or two to deflate it. Then I rolled it out (I couldn't get it to stretch on its own). When I got it to the size and shape that I wanted I placed it on a baking sheet and let it rest for 15 minutes. Preheat your oven to 500F.

During that 15 minutes I washed, dried and chopped the spinach. Maybe about a 1 cup of fresh spinach after it was chopped? I sort of guessed on how much it would take to cover my dough. I think next time I'll use a bit more. I seeded and chopped about 2 tablespoons of tomato and about an equal amount of red pepper.

The dough had sit for 15 minutes by the time. I spread the olive oil, basil, garlic mixture over the pizza dough with a pastry brush (I ended up not using all of the olive oil but I did use most of it). I spread the chopped spinach over the olive oil mixture, followed by the tomatoes and red pepper. Then I crumbled lots of feta over the top. I used lots of feta. Mmmmm It was ready to go.

I popped the pizza in my 500F oven and baked for 10 minutes. When I pulled it out I transferred the pizza to a cooling rack. My baking sheets tend to cause the bottom of everything to brown up a lot and I didn't want it to brown too much. I wish I had a camera so I could show how perfectly it came out. Oh well, use your imagination. It looked *good*.

Since it was on the cooling rack and I don't have a pizza cutter anyway so I cut my pizza with scissors. I ate two pieces and dipped my crusts in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And I have leftovers for tomorrow.


***If you actually like pesto instead of my olive oil base just spread it so that it lightly covers the dough. You don't want it to be too thick because they flavour could overpower the veggies. Also with pesto, the pizza as a whole is a wee bit drier than with the olive oil I used.