Friday, July 01, 2011
CORN, ZUCCHINI, AND FETA PIZZA WITH CILANTRO-LIME PESTO
I remember back when I was studying abroad in England, I thought it was hilarious that corn is a common pizza-topping option there (like, you can get it at Pizza Hut). Those Old Worlders and their lack of understanding of New-World foods! I was vegetarian at the time, so I was grateful for any extra vegetable choices that weren’t green peppers (ew) or olives (hate), but I gotta say, corn doesn’t do much in that context, its delicate flavor and crunch overwhelmed by tomato sauce and cheese (and of course it’s canned corn anyway). Now I’ll put just about anything on a pizza that isn't nailed down, and it feels only fitting that I’ve come full circle and made a pizza where corn is the main feature. Of course, there’s a world of difference between that poor, sad British corn and this fresh, snappy treatment, where it’s paired with its good buddies cilantro and lime (anyone who's ever eaten elote knows what a great idea that is) and its summer compatriot zucchini, and topped with tangy, creamy, salty feta.
Do I even need to tell you that this was fantastic?
OK, fine. THIS WAS FANTASTIC.
I’m extra pleased with it because I made it up myself…well, I combined two similar recipes into one, but that’s about as creative as I get with kitchen improvisation. I don’t remember what Internet rabbit hole I’d fallen down when I stumbled across this recipe at food52, but seeing the words “corn,” “feta,” “cilantro,” “lime,” and “pizza” all together pretty much blew my mind and I bookmarked it immediately. I was so obsessed that I couldn’t stop thinking about it and exactly how awesome it was going to taste. The author mentioned having based the recipe on a pizza she’d tasted at the Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley, so I did some Googling just to see if anyone else had given this a try (because when I can’t eat something right away, the next best thing is reading other people’s descriptions of it). Lo and behold, I found lots of mentions of a corn, cilantro, and lime pizza from the Cheeseboard Collective, the recipe for which had even been published in the Cheeseboard Collective cookbook—but that pizza looked different, with zucchini, onion, and mozzarella added (even better as far as I’m concerned), and no cilantro-lime pesto, just a paltry sprinkle of cilantro and squeeze of lime over the finished pizza (boo).
Obviously, I was going to have to McGyver my own ideal version. I took the cilantro-lime pesto from the first recipe and added it to the second recipe, omitting the garlic oil from that one and simplifying the directions somewhat. The quantities are approximate—with pizza, you just add toppings until it looks right—and I made a few additional changes because I was cooking the pizzas in cast-iron skillets on the stovetop using the newly discovered method I’ve perfected over the past two months of oven-brokenness…which, remind me to write that down sometime, because it’s pretty nifty, so nifty that I might keep using it occasionally even after my oven is fixed. Anyway, since the toppings don’t get cooked as much on stovetop pizza as they do on oven-baked, I gave the onion and zucchini a quick sauté in some olive oil before putting them on the pizza, and I gotta say, I liked the results so much (I’m not crazy about crunchy onions unless in salads or on certain sandwiches) that I might do it every time, even though it means dirtying an extra pan. My corn was also pre-cooked, because it’s way easier to cut the kernels off the cob that way—they don’t fly all over the kitchen as much as they do when it’s raw, and anyway I was boiling some other ears of corn earlier in the week, so why not throw that one in the pot too? You could go either way, depending on what’s more convenient for you.
2 medium cloves garlic
1 bunch cilantro (about 1 tightly packed cup), plus a bit extra to taste if desired
Juice of ½ lime, plus a lime wedge to squeeze over the finished pizza if desired
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra if you want to sauté your toppings
1 ear of corn (raw or briefly boiled), kernels removed
1 pinch of black pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
6–8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 medium-large zucchini, thinly sliced
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 pound pizza dough
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Make the pesto by adding the garlic, 1 cup cilantro, juice of ½ lime, ¼ teaspoon salt, and olive oil to a food processor or blender and processing until smooth.
3. In a small bowl, toss the corn kernels with the black pepper, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt.
4. Optional: In a skillet, sauté the onion and zucchini in a little olive oil over medium heat until just tender.
5. Roll out the pizza dough on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Spread the pesto over the pizza. Add half of the mozzarella, all of the onion and zucchini, the remaining mozzarella, and then the corn and feta.
6. Bake pizza for 12–15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Remove from oven, and garnish with extra cilantro and a squeeze of lime if desired.
Time: 45 minutes
Leftover potential: Good; reheat in the oven or in a skillet on the stovetop for optimal crispiness.