Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pizza Fritta + Vegetarian Bolognese & Smoked Provolone

    I know, I know. You've always wanted to make pizza from scratch at home, but you're not about to invest the money in all of the necessary equipment (pizza peel, pizza stone, pizza wheel, etc.) just to make pizza once or twice before deciding that it's too much trouble or that you don't have time before you never do it again.

Well, I have the solution for you. It's called Pizza Frita. That's Italian for fried pizza, so you know it's going to be good. In fact, I'd argue that it's just as delicious as wood-fired pizza, but different. It's richer, and the dough is chewier. This other traditional Naples-style pie is way less fussy than the more popular Napoleon pizza -- and you can make it with the equipment you already have in your home kitchen.

    "It's a keeper," my wife exclaimed before commenting that it was like a pizza on a savory doughnut. What can I say? You have to live a little every once in a while. This is one you have to try.

Pizza Fritta

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (like Whole Foods 365 brand)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
About 1/2 cup warm water (but you may not need all water)
3/4 cup canola oil (for frying)
2 cups Vegetarian Bolognese Sauce (recipe follows)

2 cups shredded smoked provolone

Into the work bowl of your food processor, add the flour, salt, and rapid-rise yeast. Turn the processor on and drizzle in the warm water until a dough ball forms and rolls around the inside of the work bowl. (Don't worry, you'll know it when it happens.) Turn the dough out onto your work surface, divide the dough in half, roll each half into a ball, and cover with an inverted bowl. Allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes.

In an 11-inch frying pan over moderately high heat, heat the vegetable oil until it reaches about 300 to 325 degrees. Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball out to a 10-inch disk on a floured surface. Have some kitchen tongs handy. Using your hands, carefully lower the dough into the hot oil; start at the edge closest to you and work away, like putting an unfortunate bumper sticker on your car. Using the kitchen tongs, press the center of the dough down as it tends to bubble up. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on the first side or until golden brown. Using your kitchen tongs, carefully flip the dough and cook the other side for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to drain on paper towels. Repeat process with the second dough.

Turn the broiler of your oven on medium; this is how you will melt the cheese. Place the dough smooth-side-down onto a sheet pan. Top the bumpy side of each dough with one cup of the Vegetarian Bolognese Sauce and one cup of the shredded smoked provolone cheese. Place on the middle rack under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly (about 2 to 3 minutes). 

Slice and serve with a simple arugula salad. Though this only makes 2 small pizzas, it will feed 4 people because these are a touch richer than "normal" pizzas.

Vegetarian Bolognese Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion (chopped)
1 8-ounce package baby bella mushrooms (chopped)
2 ribs celery (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
1/2 cup pitted mixed, spicy olives
6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
pinch crushed red pepper
4 cups whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil to the pan and bring it up to temperature. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the onion and sauté until it is translucent. Add the mushrooms, celery, and carrots and cook until tender (about 10 minutes). Add the olives, garlic, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Bring the mixture to a simmer. In small batches, spoon the mixture into your food processor and pulse 3-4 times or until the mixture is chopped but there are still some distinct ingredients. Return the blended portion to the pan and simmer until ready to use. (
Makes about a quart.)

*This also is a great sauce on pasta or gnocchi as well. Freeze the unused portion and save it for a quick dinner some other night.