Friday, August 31, 2012


Here would be a perfect place to employ the oft-overused (I include myself in this accusation) foodie phrase “summer in a bowl.” Summer squash, corn, avocado, cilantro, and lime all in one place is about as summery as you can get, at least without a tomato in sight. The recipe is from Two Peas and Their Pod, and while it didn’t rock my socks off quite as much as I’d hoped based on the gorgeous photos, there’s nothing not to like here. The well-matched, fresh, simple ingredients are elevated by the elegant presentation—ribbons are purty, and the white-yellow-green palette shot through with threads of purple is something I could gaze on all day long…assuming I didn’t get hungry at any point. It tastes just like the sum of its parts, but with parts like these, that’s not so bad. I especially liked the generous proportion of avocado.

I made no changes, except to use feta instead of queso fresco, because I already had it on hand. See my notes below regarding the leftovers; they’ll keep better if you leave the avocado out until you’re ready to eat.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium zucchini
2 medium yellow squash
2 ears cooked sweet corn
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ red onion, sliced
2 medium ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
½ cup queso fresco or feta cheese

1. In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil and lime juice together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Trim the ends of the zucchini and yellow squash. With a vegetable peeler, shave lengthwise into long, wide, thin strips. When you get to the center of the squash, turn the squash over and slice from the other side until you get to the center again.

3. Put the zucchini and yellow squash ribbons in a large bowl. Cut the sweet corn kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob. Discard cobs. Add sweet corn, cilantro, red onion, and avocado slices to the squash ribbons. Pour olive oil and lime dressing over salad and toss until coated.

4. Crumble queso fresco over the top of the salad and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serves: 4
Time: 20 minutes
Leftover potential: Surprisingly good for a day or two, but if you plan on having leftovers, I recommend not adding the avocado in Step 3. If you plan on eating two servings now and two servings later, slice the first avocado and serve it atop the servings you intend to eat now, waiting to slice up the second avocado until you’re ready to eat the leftovers. I did the same with the cheese, adding it only to the servings only right before I ate them, but that’s less crucial.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


And with this, my “Put a Fruit on It” experiments have reached their zenith. I saw the base recipe at Two Peas and Their Pod and immediately wanted to try it. Then, at the end of that post, in the automatically generated “you might also like:” section, I spotted a link to a nectarine and prosciutto pizza over at A Cozy Kitchen. I knew that prosciutto and melon are frequently combined, and I was willing to bet that prosciutto and peach wouldn’t be a bad pairing at all. I thought the prosciutto might help keep the pizza firmly grounded in savory territory, balancing out the sweetness of the peaches and the balsamic reduction. (As you’ll recall, although I liked the strawberry pizza, it did seem just a bit desserty.

The Cozy Kitchen recipe applied the prosciutto after baking (along with some raw arugula, which I’m sure was quite lovely and kind of makes me want to devise an arugula, prosciutto, and nectarine salad—yeah, like this, maybe), but I decided to cook mine on the pizza itself, and I was glad I did. Placed between the cheese and the peaches, the cooked prosciutto added just the right touch of salty, greasy, porky chewiness to the otherwise soft and sweet toppings. Instead I left the basil uncooked—I hate the way it gets all browned and crispy and loses its fresh grassy greenness otherwise.

A word of warning about the balsamic reduction: It’s apt to drip off the pizza when you apply it or during baking, and when it gets on the pan, it burns like nobody’s business. It didn’t smoke up my oven, although that seems to have happened to at least one commenter. But it did transform into a charred-caramel substance that was nearly impossible to chip off the pan. I made two smaller pizzas, baked in my cast-iron skillet and my enameled cast-iron pan, and I eventually managed to scrub the blackened goo off the enamel with many tears and much elbow grease, but my regular cast iron still bears a few scarred spots a month later. I’m afraid that if it happens again, I might ruin that skillet for life. However, I refuse to stop making this pizza, because it is one of the most stellar pizzas I’ve ever made. I know I say this a lot, but it just tastes like summer, and it’s the balsamic reduction that really makes it special. So my options are to either start making this on a really old baking sheet I’m willing to sacrifice to the burnt-vinegar gods, or to drizzle on the reduction after the pizza has baked. Right now I’m leaning toward the latter choice, because I’d like to believe it won’t make too much difference. The baking does help the vinegar really soak into the peaches, but it’s so flavorful to begin with that I doubt its power will be much diminished. After I try it, I’ll let you know.

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
4 ounces sliced prosciutto, torn into pieces
2 to 4 peaches, thinly sliced
½ cup freshly chopped basil

1. To make the balsamic reduction, pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vinegar has reduced to ¼ cup. Set aside, and cool to room temperature.

2. To make the pizza, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll out the dough on a baking surface coated with cornmeal or olive oil.

3. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil. Top the dough with fresh mozzarella rounds, torn prosciutto, and peach slices. Drizzle the pizza with balsamic reduction (or wait to add the reduction until after baking; see note above).

4. Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until pizza crust is golden and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped basil (and drizzle with the balsamic reduction if you didn’t add it earlier).

5. Let the pizza cool for a few minutes and then cut into slices and serve warm.

Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes
Leftover potential: Good.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


You guys, you guys, I’m back from my (sort of inadvertent) summer blog break and I have a backlog of SO MANY delicious recipes to tell you about, it is really ridiculous. Thus, I’m going to keep things short and sweet here so I can get caught up before, oh, Christmas.

I know it seems like I already have more pizza recipes than any human really needs, but when the hot weather finally rolled around (we were lucky this year in SoCal and that didn’t happen until July), I realized I don’t have a lot that feel particularly light and summery. (Besides this one. If you haven’t made it yet this summer, do it now.) So I went poking around and found just what I’d been craving, a nice white pizza with zucchini, at the always-reliable Eggs on Sunday. Even though I always put zucchini my traditional tomato-sauce pizza, I surprisingly didn’t have any other pizza recipes that used it, except, again, this one. (Have you made it yet? If not, why are you still reading this?)

I know it’s not totally necessary to have a recipe for making pizza, but I like a little guidance, and this one provided a perfect formula. I changed a few things, switching out the goat cheese (bleah) for feta (yeah) and reserving some of the basil to add on after baking so I could really enjoy its fresh taste. But on my own, I wouldn’t have come up with the idea of roasting the zucchini. I usually sauté it lightly for a clean, straight-up taste, just enough to release some of its moisture so it doesn’t make my pizza too soggy or stay too crunchy-raw; when the zucchini is the star, however, the caramelization that roasting provides adds a welcome flavor boost, and I liked the chewier texture. I also especially enjoyed the addition of cheddar cheese to the mix. Just watch out for the garlic here—I love it with zucchini, so I used a large clove, forgetting that it would stay pretty much raw. It didn’t look like that much, but it ended up permeating every bite. I’m a garlic fan, and I had no trouble eating it, but I regretted it the next day when I woke up and my mouth still tasted like garlic after several teeth brushings, flossings, and mouthwashes. Don’t get greedy like me; stick with a smallish clove.

Aside from the garlic breath, I loved this. It’s easy, fresh, pretty, and sure to become a summer staple around here.

1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
Olive oil to taste
Salt to taste
1 pound pizza dough
1 small to medium clove garlic, minced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 handful basil leaves, torn or thinly sliced
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 ounces feta, crumbled

1. To roast the squash, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the squash slices with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt to taste in a large bowl, then lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with parchment or aluminum foil. Roast until the bottoms begin to brown, about 10 minutes, then flip and continue roasting until the tops have started to brown as well. (Alternatively, you can grill the squash, or just sauté it in olive oil over medium heat until softened.) Set aside.

2. When you’re ready to make the pizza, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll out your pizza dough on an oiled baking sheet. Top with the shredded cheeses, then the garlic, red pepper flakes, cooked squash slices, half of the basil, and the crumbled goat cheese.

3. Bake pizza until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, about 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining basil.

Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes
Leftover potential: Good.