I’m not sure if I can adequately profess my love for pizza.
Pizza in any form is pretty much irresistible, but how I adore those airy, crispy crusts that can only come from a wood-fired oven with just a smattering of the best ingredients. A simple tomato, basil and olive oil pizza? Yes, please. Thinly sliced prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and a heap of peppery arugula on top? Gimme gimme more. There are only a few pizza places that have really captured my heart but unfortunately none of them are in my city. So what do we do? Naturally, we make our own.
Of course my oven can’t quite compete with those high-heat commercial ovens to get that uber-crispy crust but it does the trick and satisfies my pizza craving whenever the mood strikes. Typically, pizza night will include two pizzas because my husband and I can never agree on the same toppings. Normally it’s whatever veggies we have in our refrigerator for me while he likes the simplicity of his chicken sausage or pepperoni, red sauce and shredded mozzarella. I always used make my own crust and scoffed at the thought of even buying one pre-made. But then life (Noah) happened, so now I swallow my pride and stock up on the whole wheat or multi-grain dough from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. It works.
So, this particular pie reminds me of a wonderful Italian restaurant we visited in San Raphael with friends, where our table was overflowing with appetizers, three or four pizzas, wine and dessert- which, by the way, included a vanilla bean ice cream topped with a fruity extra virgin olive oil and flaked sea salt! Um, WOW. Anyway. One of our pizzas was topped with charred broccoli and I instantly fell in love. I’m all for trying new toppings so in an attempt to recreate it at home we have this creation. The creamy whipped ricotta is used as a replacement for sauce while the crispy broccoli florets add an addicting, contrasting texture. Finally, toss on some thinly sliced zucchini, sweet sun-dried tomatoes and a sprinkling of mozzarella to hold it all together. That there is a pizza!
roasted broccoli & whipped ricotta pizza
The whipped ricotta will make about 1-1 ½ cups and you certainly won’t use all of it for this pizza. I also used Earth Bound Farm’s broccolette instead of broccoli, which I found at Costco. A cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, it’s more tender and a bit sweeter than its counterpart and roasts like a dream.
(makes 1 12-inch pizza)
- 1 pound store-bought multigrain/whole-wheat pizza dough or your favorite recipe
- 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ∼½ cup whipped ricotta
- 1-2 cups broccolette, cut into florets or thin strips depending on how much you want use
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- fine-grain sea salt +freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- ½ medium zucchini, thinly sliced
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Chili oil, for topping
- 1 cup homemade ricotta cheese (or store bought whole milk ricotta)
- ½-¾ cup feta cheese
- drizzle of olive oil
- generous pinch of freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Since I used a pre-made pizza dough, I let it rest at room temperature while I prepared the rest of the toppings.
Preheat oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with foil. In a bowl, toss the broccolette with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes until tender-crisp. Remove from oven and set aside.
Turn up oven temperature to 475° and if you’re using a pizza stone place on the top rack and let it preheat with the oven. Roll out the dough on a floured surface as thin as possible while keeping its surface even. At this point, I transfer the dough to a pizza peel that has been covered in cornmeal for easy transfer to the oven. Once the dough is on the pizza peel is when I add the toppings.
Spread the last tablespoon of olive oil all over the dough with the back of a spoon or basting brush. Then dollop the whipped ricotta onto the oiled dough and spread that around with the back of a spoon as well- as you would pizza sauce. Add the zucchini slices, then roasted broccolette and sun-dried tomatoes. Lightly sprinkle mozzarella over the top. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden. Drizzle chili oil over the top if desired. Slice and serve.