July 19, 2012

Grown-up Tastes

I'm sorry.  I've been holding out on you.  I should have given you this pizza recipe more than a week ago, but I've been selfishly clinging onto it and not sharing.  Let me assure you though, this is totally worth waiting for.

Like the chicken satay and the corn, zucchini and feta pizza before it, I have a thing for interesting and homemade pizzas.  I'm not much of a delivery girl (I don't think I've ever ordered and had a pizza delivered, come to think of it), or snag a cheap slice in the afternoon or after the bar kind of girl either.  Back in elementary school I did join Pizza Hut's Book It! reading club allowing me to pester my parents to take me to get my free personal pan pizza once I fulfilled the quota.  A program that I was quite enthusiastic about owing mostly to the fact that I already read books like crazy and getting Pizza Hut was a novelty.  We were a strictly Boboli household - with the occasional BBQ chicken thrown in from Pizza Nova.

These days I prefer to get my hands in there and make the whole thing myself.  Stretching and pulling the crust out thin, heating my oven to its absolute maximum temperature, arranging the toppings and not too much cheese - and please! hold the pizza sauce - to make my own perfect pies.  I will gladly trade the convenience of delivery for the extra time in my kitchen, no problem.

This roasted cauliflower pizza, topped with colorful chilies and green olive tapenade was heavenly.  The nutty cauliflower bits melted together with the mild fresh mozzarella, the Fresno and Anaheim chilies punching up the spice factor, the colors here alone are almost enough.  But then you dollop little spoonfuls of green olive tapenade all over just as you take it out of the oven, making briny little pools as it softens in the heat, and that's when you've truly reached perfection and balance.

Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower, Chiles & Green Olive Tapenade
Adapted from TasteFood

There are many shortcuts you can take with this pizza, and as long as you're buying good quality stuff, the final product will not suffer. I used Whole Foods multigrain pizza dough and really enjoyed it's flavor, although I couldn't get it as thin as I would have liked. You can also use a jarred green olive tapenade, or whip one up yourself with olives, olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, anchovies and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

4-6 servings

1 pound ball of pizza dough
olive oil
8 oz fresh mozzarella, shredded or torn into small chunks
2 cups chopped cauliflower florets from 1 small head
2 Fresno chiles, sliced into rings
1 Anaheim/California chile, sliced into rings
1/2 cup green olive tapenade

Preheat oven to 450F.  If you have a pizza stone, put it in while the oven is cold.

On a piece of parchment paper, roll out dough to desired thickness.  Sometimes it comes out a circle, sometime a rectangle.  Sometimes it's just a wonky shape, dosen't matter.  Just roll, toss, stretch that dough until it's the thickness you like (I personally prefer a thinner crust).

Brush dough with a bit of olive oil.  Scatter the shredded/torn mozzarella over the whole thing, leaving a 1/2 inch border along the edges.  In a bowl toss the chopped cauliflower and chile rings with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then scatter the whole mixture over the cheese.

Transfer the pizza on the parchment paper to the pizza stone (or just onto a cookie sheet and then into the oven), and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese bubbles and the crust turns a nice golden brown.  As soon as you take it out of the oven, spoon little dollops of the green olive tapenade all over and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Slice and serve.

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