Spicy Tomato & Arugula Pizza

I have this fantasy (don’t worry, it’s not dirty) of mixing together flour and water, letting it sit out on the counter, feeding it every day, watching it grow… and creating a homemade sourdough starter. I then bake up a few beautiful, warm, crusty loaves of bread every week, nourishing my family and friends, and never relying on store bought bread ever again.

Yea, I haven’t gotten there yet. My reality is more like; buy dried sourdough starter on the internet (Cultures for Health has a bunch of options), reconstitute it, then feel guilty that I don’t use it more often. I am, however, finding more uses that I originally thought, one of which is – wait for it – pizza!

Not only is sourdough amazingly delicious, it’s also better for you than any other bread out there. The enzymes created by the wild yeast “predigest” part of the bread for you, plus the fermentation lowers the carbohydrates and increases the nutrient profile. Read more about it here.

Of course, if you’re really itching for pizza right this second and don’t have a week to order, feed and activate a new starter, you can always use your favorite pizza dough recipe (there’s good ones here or here) or stop by your favorite grocer’s bakery or pizzeria and ask to buy some dough.

Spicy Tomato and Arugula Pizza

The Dough:
1 1/2 c. sourdough starter

1 1/2 T. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 -1 1/2 c. flour (I used half white bread flour from Cayuga Organics)
1-2 T. water or whey (if needed)

Start the dough in the morning for crust that will be ready that night. Mix starter, oil and salt in a bowl, then add 1 c. flour. Mix well. If it doesn’t come together easily, add a little water or whey. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or two, until you have a soft, smooth ball of dough. If it’s sticky, add a little more flour, and if it’s dry, add more water/whey.

Lightly oil a bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and set in a warm spot to rise.

The Pizza:
1 T. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like super spicy)
1 plump garlic clove, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
a large handful of baby arugula, finely chopped
dough from above – or your own dough
4-6 oz. fresh mozzarella (the kind that comes in a ball), sliced

Preheat the oven, and a pizza stone or upturned baking sheet, to 450.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot add salt, red pepper, garlic and tomatoes. Stir to coat tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes have just collapsed, about 7-8 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the arugula.

While the tomatoes are cooking, get the dough ready. Lay out a piece of parchment paper and coat with flour. Coat hands and rolling pin in flour, then turn the dough out onto the parchment. Roll the dough into your desired shape. I like mine fairly thin. Top the crust with the tomato/arugula mixture and spread evenly. Lay slices of mozzarella on top.

Take stone or baking sheet out of oven (careful, it’s hot!) and transfer pizza, parchment and all, onto the stone. Bake for 20 minutes, or until very lightly browned. The thinner the crust, the less time it will take to cook.

When done, transfer pizza to cutting board (you won’t need the parchment any more) and cut into pieces.

serves 3-4, or two VERY hungry people.

Sourdough pizza dough recipe from Sourdough Home.

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