I’ve been at a bit of a standstill in the kitchen this month. It’s not really a lack of ideas vexing me, but a lack of desire to spend any time in front of a stove or oven now that the weather is so delicious, I believe I at least owe it the courtesy of spending time out in it. Sure, there are savory tarts and summery salads and even another burger bun recipe on my agenda; there’s a cake in my fridge that’s so pretty I will not be the least bit offended if you mount a protest that I am waiting until next time to tell you about it, but I need to level with you: I have not cooked a real dinner for us in over a month. A month! Perhaps longer.
None of this has stopped me from bringing home mounds of produce each week from the markets. My current (boring) preggo cravings are green beans and summer squash, and I’ve made countless batches of this salad and this sauté but a proper meal, they are not. Today I staged an intervention with myself once and for all. I figure it can’t just be me that is unmotivated to cook a decent, light summer meal and that the only solution would be to create something worth rallying myself — and others — over.
My first reaction? “Why did I wait so long to make this pizza?” My second: “Why did I only make one?!” I’ve been batting around this idea of a pizza very loosely playing off a Provençal tian — essentially a layered vegetable gratin with thin slices of summer produce, olive oil, cheese and herbs, such as thyme or basil, and baked in the oven and served as a side dish. Seeing as I’ve been buying yellow and green zucchini like it was going out of style, and the basil was right at the next table this week, and I’ve been on a bit of a lemon bender, I played these flavors off of each other and friends, if this is any indication of the things I can throw together at home when I believe I’m uninspired to cook, let this be a lesson to me because it’s been too long since we had a dinner this tasty.
Pizza, previously: We are a little bit obsessed with pizza here at the Smitten Kitchen, so no pizza recipe on this site would be complete without a tour of the pizza madness that has come before it. First, there are two dough recipes on the site, a Really Simple Homemade Pizza Dough and a slightly stepped-up one that includes a splash of wine and honey. There’s also a post that includes lots of pizza-making tips in one place: 10 Paths to Painless Pizza Making. Beyond that, there are a ton of untraditional pizza recipes in the archives, from a Broccoli Rabe version with Caramelized Onions to an Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza, not to mention a Potato Pizza, which is exactly as transcendent as you would expect from carbs topped wtih carbs topped with rosemary, olive oil and sea salt. Check out the full list here, and don’t be surprised if you never order pizza delivery again.
Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza
There is no reason to make this recipe exactly as you see here, I mean, aside from the fact that you have my word that it is completely delicious as is. But why be limited? Use thyme with or instead of your basil, or another herb you like. Add slices of eggplant, tomato or even potato, if that’s what’s coming up fresh in your area. Don’t like goat cheese? Use gruyère or mozzarella. Is that too many options? I don’t wish to flood you, just to let you know that a recipe like this could be a launchpad for whatever you’ve got on hand, or, frankly, need to clean out of your fridge. Have fun with it. That’s the point, after all, isn’t it?
Makes one small pizza, which with a big green salad, makes an nice summer meal for two
1 batch Simplest Pizza Dough or a store-bought pizza dough that will yield one small (approx. 11 to 12 inches across), thin pizza
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
Few leaves of fresh basil, cut into thin slivers
1/2 medium yellow zucchini, sliced as thinly as you can pull off with a knife or your mandoline (I went for 1/8-inch thick with mine)
1/2 medium green zucchini, sliced as the same as above
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Roll your pizza dough into a thin 12-inch circle and lay it on a tray or stone that has been dusted lightly with cornmeal.
In a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese with the juice of half your lemon. Season it with salt and freshly ground pepper, and spread it over your pizza dough. Scatter fresh basil slivers over the cheese.
Arrange your zucchini coins in concentric circles over the goat cheese spread, overlapping them slightly. You can alternate their colors, if you’re feeling fancy. Squeeze the juice of the second half of your lemon on top of you zucchini, then drizzle with olive oil and finish with more salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes (your baking time will vary, so please watch carefully), or until the edges of your pizza are golden brown and the zucchini looks roasted and a little curled up at the edges. Serve with a green or even simple tomato salad and please, have a glass of crisp white wine for me. Okay, two. It has been a while.