One of my favorite memories as a child was pizza night – which is crazy now that I think about it because my mom made it with sliced deli meat salami, black olives, canned mushrooms and shredded mozzarella cheese that she grated on a box grater – there was no such thing as pre-shredded cheese in those days (and no, I did not ride a horse to school or live in a Little House on the Prairie).
It wasn’t anything fancy by today’s standards but we didn’t have a lot of money and buying canned olives and mozarella cheese was a luxury. But I think those nights were special because both of my parents were in the kitchen together; mom getting the ingredients and sauce ready and my dad making the dough – it was exciting and goodness was imminent – I was beside myself with anticipation! The last pizza was always the best because mom tossed everything that was left onto one pizza and that also meant cold pizza for breakfast the next morning – oh my heavens, as a kid, I thought I’d died and gone to pizza heaven!
More years than I can count have passed since those days in that tiny house in Walla Walla, but my love for pizza remains the same; and when I’m making pizza, I remember my parents in the kitchen cooking together.
Do you make pizza at home? What is your favorite pizza?
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This pizza reminds me of one of my favorite fall salads with a topping of torn radicchio (pronounced ruh-DIH-kee-oh) leaves, thin pear slices, and a scattering of Gorgonzola – unusual but superb, nonetheless!
Pizza with Radicchio, Pears, Gorgonzola, Walnuts
Adapted from Things Cooks Love, 2008
Makes: 4 Individual Pizzas, 2 Medium Pizzas or 1 Large Pizza
1 head radicchio, cored, leaves separated, and torn into 2- to 3-inch pieces
2 or 3 large, ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears, unpeeled, quartered, cored, and each quarter cut into 4 wedges
1 cup broken walnuts
10 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, coarsely crumbled (about 2 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for grating
About 45 minutes to 1 hour before baking the pizza, place a pizza stone or a rimless baking sheet (no oil) on the lowest rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F.
With a large knife or a bench scraper, divide dough into 4 equal pieces (if making individual pizzas).
Generously dust a pizza peel or a rimless cookie sheet with flour (or cornmeal). On a lightly floured work surface with floured hands pat out the dough (or use rolling pin), stretching gently and turning into a round about 10 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick leaving the edges of the round slightly thicker. Gently slide the peel under the dough.
NOTE: If you don’t have a pizza stone, sheet pans will work fine: Oil two 13×18-inch rimmed baking sheets (approximately 2 tablespoons of oil per sheet). Divide dough equally between the well oiled pans in one piece. Gently pull and stretch the dough across the surface of the pan, using your hands to press it evenly out to the edges. If the dough sticks to your fingers you can lightly oil your hands. Pinch any holes together.
Arrange torn radicchio leaves on the dough round. Top with pear slices, in a sunburst pattern. Sprinkle with walnuts and top with Gorgonzola distributing evenly over the surface. NOTE: The amount of toppings should be adjusted to the size of your pizza. Add a grinding of pepper and drizzle with the olive oil.
Head to the oven and guide the peel onto the pizza stone, tilting the peel and gently shaking it so the pizza slides off the peel and onto the center of the pizza stone. Bake the pizza for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is browned and crisp.
Remove from the oven and slide onto a cutting board. Grate Parmlglano-Reggiano over the top, drizzle with a tiny bit more olive oil. Cut the pizza into wedges and serve.
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