Wednesday, June 18, 2008

pizza with red and yellow peppers

pepper pizza

I hope you’re not pizza-ed out yet–and if you are, can you tell me your secret?–because I’ve got two more coming this week. Wait, why is everyone leaving? Come back!

To the four of you left, if despite all of my pleading and listicled efforts to convince you that you don’t need a pizza stone, pizza paddle, bread machine, dough hook or hours of free time to make awesome pizza at home, I’ve got one more for you: I made one of these with a broken oven. Or a mostly-broken one. Well actually, it was totally broken, but only for a few hours. Nevertheless, it was dramatic, as you can imagine; we’re quite fond of our flimsy, tiny Apartment Standard oven in the smittenkitchen.

prettiest bell peppers

You see, I had bookmarked yet another lovely, simple recipe from what I think we all know by now is my current favorite cookbook, Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables a couple weeks ago, the Pizza with Red and Yellow Peppers. Yet I was concerned that I wouldn’t get the caramelized top I wanted by baking it in my oven–every oven is different, but mine simply does not excel in top-browning. So, I decided it would be time to take my own advice and such, and cook the pizza under the broiler.

color-sorted peppers, because i'm ocd

As it turns out, my oven didn’t like this one bit. I don’t know if it was from the steam from the peppers or just a fluke reaction, but the oven wouldn’t stay lit and then it just wouldn’t turn on at all. But the pizza was only half-cooked, so I followed that other piece of my advice, and attempted to cook it on the stove (quite haphazardly, I might add) in a big cast-iron pan. It worked… okay. But I never got the caramelization on the peppers that I’d hoped for.

pepper pizza

Still, it is a lovely, simple pizza, and quite pretty to boot. I look forward to revisiting it once my oven has gone through a much-needed attitude adjustment. …By the way, three hours later, the oven was working again–cranky little thing, innit?–but by that time the pizza was long gone. Thank goodness, though, because I needed to call upon it for another minor task that weekend.

One year ago: Dilled Potato and Cucumber Salad (We made this again last weekend and it is still so very good, and our absolute favorite.)

Pizza with Red and Yellow Peppers
Adpated from Chez Panisse Vegetables

If you’ve got the guts to try broiling your pizza, despite my disaster, I think this pizza would be wonderful with that kind of top-down caramelization. Otherwise, the next time I make this, I’ll probably use fewer peppers, perhaps only half to two-thirds of each one. I felt it got too topping-heavy for my tastes.

3 bell peppers–1 red, 1 orange and 1 yellow (or less, see Recipe Notes)
1/2 small red onion
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
2 ounces mozzarella cheese
1 clove garlic

Pizza dough for one pizza [a simple recipe, a wine and honey version]

Preheat the oven–with a pizza stone in it–to 450 to 500 °F. [If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can bake this on the back of a baking sheet, sprinkled with cornmeal.]

Slice thin the peppers and onion, and roughly chop the parsley and basil. Toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Coarsely grate the cheese. Chop the garlic fine and mix it with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

Roll out a disk of pizza dough 12 to 14 inches in diameter and place it on the back of a lightly floured sheet pan or pizza peel. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, brush the garlic and oil mixture on the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the oiled dough. Spread the pepper mixture on top of the cheese. Slide the pizza directly onto the pizza brick and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the dough is crispy and thoroughly cooked. Slice and serve immediately.

Makes one 12-inch pizza.


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