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Vegetable Pizza

Pizza di Verdure

Makes 2 Large Pizze; Serves 12

Top a basil-and-sesame-seed yeast dough canvas with fresh, seasonal vegetables to create this vibrantly colored pizza. The recipe makes two pizze, enough to serve twenty as an antipasto if cut into small squares.

Ingredients

DOUGH

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon malt extract or sugar

2 cups warm (110 to 115F) water

5 1/2 to 5 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil

TOPPING

1/4 cup Filippo Berio olive oil

1 pound small zucchini, thinly sliced

2 pounds tomatoes, thinly sliced

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dried oregano, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Spread the sesame seeds on a cookie sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, until golden. Watch them carefully to prevent burning. Remove the seeds to a small dish and set aside.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and malt extract or sugar in the warm water and let proof until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix 5 cups of the flour and the salt. Add to the yeast mixture along with the basil. Using your hands, form a ball of dough that is smooth and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes.

Lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil, add the dough, turning it to coat, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Lightly oil two 15 1/2 by 14-inch baking pans or 15 by 11-inch cookie sheets. Spread the sesame seeds over the work surface. Punch the dough down and turn it out on top of the sesame seeds. Knead the seeds into the dough, adding a little flour to the work surface if necessary to prevent the dough from sticking.

Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to a rectangle the size of the prepared pans, and fit the pizzas into the pans.

Brush 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the top if each pizza. Arrange alternating rows of the zucchini and tomatoes on each pizza, overlapping them slightly. Brush the vegetables with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper, and with oregano if desired.

Bake for 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Cut the pizze into squares and serve warm.

This recipe is from CELEBRATIONS ITALIAN STYLE by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1995.

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