Posts Tagged ‘Ricotta’

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“Dynamite Pizza”, or The Best Pizza You’ll Ever Eat

February 17, 2011

I put off writing about this for a while because I know pizza is simple and it’s been done.  A lot.  True, anyone can throw some toppings and cheese on a crust and bake it.  But I promise you haven’t lived until you’ve tried this one.

I came across this crust recipe a few years ago in Cooking Light magazine, and I haven’t strayed since.  The truly amazing thing about this recipe is that it makes four crusts from one recipe, and you can have them ready to go in your fridge or freezer – making for a really fast and delicious weeknight meal. Plus, there’s just so much potential for creativity here!

In the past Erik and I have done everything from Greek Pizza, to Tomato Basil Mozzarella Pizza, to a Barbecue Pizza (a personal favorite which always receives rave reviews).  But the one I want to share here now is one of our latest and more delicious creations:  a Spinach, Artichoke, and Asparagus White Pizza; inspired by spinach artichoke dip.  It’s a great combination of fresh, green vegetables and rich, delicious cheesiness.  It’s certainly a nice break from the monotony of pepperoni pizza with tomato sauce, and well worth the extra effort (though it doesn’t take much).

The White Pizza, before baking.

Dynamite Pizza Dough

  • 1  package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1  cup  warm water
  • 1 1/4  cups  cold water
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 5 cups unbleached bread flour
  • Additional flour, for kneading

*For Wheat Crust, use 4 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour.

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Combine 1 1/4 cups cold water, oil, sugar, and salt in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

Measure flour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Add yeast mixture, and cold water mixture to the flour.  Mix on low 8 minutes or until dough begins to form. Let rest 2 minutes.  Mix on low 6 more minutes. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 2 minutes); add additional flour if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

Divide the dough in half (for thicker crust) or quarters (for thinner crust), and place each portion in a large zip-top bag. Seal and chill several hours or overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling out.  Roll and stretch dough to desired size and shape.

Pizza bakes at 500° for 12 minutes.

Note: You can freeze the dough in heavy-duty, freezer-safe zip-top plastic bags for up to 2 months; thaw dough overnight in the refrigerator.

The dough can also be divided into smaller portions for personal pizzas or calzone.

Baked White Pizza, SO delicious!

Spinach Artichoke Asparagus White Pizza

White Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
  • 4 ounces (1/2 brick) cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 cups milk or soymilk
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic powder, stirring frequently.  Melt in cream cheese.  Stir in arrowroot powder to milk.  Add milk mixture, parmesan cheese, oregano, and basil to saucepan.  Stir until sauce begins to thicken.

Toppings:

  • 1 can artichoke hearts, chopped (kitchen shears work well for this)
  • 15-20 blanched asparagus spears (about 3 cups, cut in 2-inch pieces)
  • 1 cup cooked spinach (frozen spinach thawed and drained well is the easiest)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese

Assembly:

Makes 2 large pizzas.  If you only want to make one, reduce everything by half.

Place each prepared dough on a pizza pan.  Brush lightly with olive oil and spread on half of white sauce (it may look like there is too much sauce, but it soaks in quite a bit while it bakes).  Sprinkle spinach and mozzarella over sauce.  Top with artichokes and asparagus.  Scoop tablespoon sized balls of ricotta over the top of the pizza.  Bake at 500° for 12 minutes.  Indulge.

One last look at the finished pizza.

~Josie

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A Different Approach to Lasagna

January 20, 2011

Whew, it has been a while since I last posted. I was sick. Blech. <(@_$)> But alas I have returned with a great recipe to share.

I think one of the best/easy meals to make for a group of people is lasagna. It can pretty much be made ahead and warmed as your guests arrive. You may be saying to yourself “Boooo lasagna. <(-_-)> Boring. Boring. Boring!” However, this recipe is different. I found it in a Barilla online celebrity cookbook that I downloaded a couple of months back. It is a recipe for vegetarian lasagna with asparagus and eggplant that was endorsed by Julianne Moore. (OMG it must be delicious right?) Plus, how can you not love the colors!

So the recipe called for a pesto sauce to be used alternately with the white sauce, but I really wasn’t feeling that. Plus, I am a big fan of the ricotta layer in more classic lasagnas. Therefore, I decided to go with a spinach-basil-ricotta filling in place of the pesto.

Thoughts:

-As with most cream sauces I make, I used soymilk.  Feel free to use dairy if you so desire.

-I use panko in just about every recipe that calls for a breadcrumb crunchiness factor. You can use ordinary breadcrumbs if you don’t have panko on hand.

Asparagus and Eggplant Lasagna

  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 1 bunch medium asparagus spears
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½  cups mozzarella cheese
  • ½ c. panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
  • 1 small package frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed of excess liquid
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 egg

For besciamella sauce (fancy Italian word for simple cream sauce a.k.a. bechamel in French):

  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cup soy milk, hot
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg (fresh if you have)

Preheat the oven to 400.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Trim the asparagus and boil for 1 minute. Remove from water and place into a bowl of ice water. Drain well and cut each spear in half lengthwise.

I felt inclined to build an asparagus cabin. My house was a lovely shade of green.

Either cook eggplant in a sauté pan over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes or drizzle with olive oil and grill up right quick.

I really like the color contrast of eggplants. Deep purple exterior with beige seeded center. Too bad my crappy phone camera can't show this effectively.

In a medium bowl mix together the spinach, ricotta, egg, and basil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

To make besciamella sauce, in a pan melt the butter over medium high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and stir around the pan to incorporate into the butter. Let cook until light golden brown, about 6-7 minutes. Slowly add in the milk to the butter, cup by cup and whisk until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil and then remove from heat and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set aside for layering. Woot!

Cook the lasagna sheets in the boiling asparagus water until al dente (I think that is still a thing with lasagna noodles).

Prep a 13×9 inch baking pan by buttering or spraying.

I was very happy with the grill marks from the grill pan. It looked so pretty while assembling.

Put a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Layer 3 sheets of lasagna on bottom of the pan; top with a nice layering of the asparagus followed by a few slices of eggplant. Add a healthy drizzle of sauce. (about a cup). Layer with 3 more sheets of lasagna. Then using a spatula spread half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat these layers again. (You may have some leftover veggies depending on the size of your eggplant and bunch of asparagus). After placing the remaining noodles on top layer, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and the panko.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and the breadcrumbs have browned up.

Yah the finished product. (I was so excited to eat that I forgot to take pictures, this one is a leftover slice so not bubbly oozy).

P.S. Use a really sharp knife or sharp metal serving spatula to effectively cut through the layers and not have asparagus pieces that jump ship.

~Erik <(^_^)>