With all the traveling lately, I haven't really had the chance to get excited about the produce bounty as the warm weather rolls in. I think fresh produce is just incredible. The taste, nutrition, cullinary possibilities... it fascinates me. All the berries and cherries and asparagus and big leeks have me anxious to be in kitchen. Fruits and vegetables that are delicious on their own, make the quickest of meals with a few more little steps.
We ate arepas in New York last week at this awesome little spot called Caracas. Their dough was like this corn tortilla-pita-type thing, and I attempted to mimic it in a pizza crust. I wasn't going to replicate it exactly, as some things are best left wonderful in your memory, but it turns out cornmeal adds a nice little texture difference to your everyday pizza crust. The only suggestion I'll make based on experience, is roll the dough out as thin as you possibly can. The cornmeal makes for a denser crust (maybe better with corn four? haven't tried), so paper thin helps it from overpowering the toppings. If you are playing with spring/summer vegetables that pair well with sweet corn, it's worth a shot.
SOUTHWEST GOAT CHEESE PIZZA // Makes one pizza
I make half of this dough recipe. For this pizza, I replaced one of the cups of flour with a whole grain cornmeal. The corn taste is pretty mild, but it makes for little crunchy nibs in the dough. You could use your favorite recipe or purchase dough from your local pizza shop. Because corn is gluten free, don't swap out any more than 1/3 of the flour quantity to ensure elasticity.
I'm giving amounts for topping one pizza, simply double it if you're making two.
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche, room temperature
- sprinkle of smoked paprika
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 charred poblano pepper*
- 1 ear of corn, kernels removed
- 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1 packed cup baby arugula
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- juice of half a lime
- pinch of salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 500'. Prepare the dough according to instructions and set up your pizza stone or parchment line a baking sheet.
Collect all of your topppings together. Roll the dough out super thin, about 1/8'' (if you use corn meal, thin as you possibly can!). Transfer the dough to your parchment lined sheet.
Spread the creme fraiche across the top. Sprinkle a bit of smoked paprika on top (chipotle powder works too if you like it spicy). Distribute half the goat cheese, the poblanos, shallots, corn and the rest of the goat cheese. Bake in the upper third of the oven for 12-15 minutes until the top browns in parts. Turn the oven to broil and cook another minute.
Remove the pizza to cool. In a bowl, combine the baby arugula, cilantro, oil, lime juice, and pinch of salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat. Top the pizza with the greens and cut as you wish.
* To char the peppers, set them over an open flame on the stove, or a grill. Char all sides well. Remove the peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow them to steam for at least ten minutes, this makes the skin easier to peel. Once they are cool enough to touch, rub off the charred skin. Discard the stem and seeds and chop into small pieces.