In the first week of May, I went to buy some kitchen equipment from Williams-Sonoma and as I always did, I looked through the weekly schedule of the cooking classes that are held in the shop, and I thought to myself that I should try to attend, there is two classes one on Friday and the other on Wednesday, the one on Wednesday is free, I love to cook and learning a few things here and there would be great.
So by Friday afternoon I decided to attend and went to the shop, truthfully I didn’t care what the class was about, it was just such a fun thing to do.
We were four students, but I think I was the most experienced around the kitchen (practice makes perfect!), the class was about Italian food but modernized.
A simple pizza such as this Margherita pie requires the best ingredients to really shine. That’s why California-grown organic Bianco di Napoli tomatoes are a great choice, though any high-quality plum tomatoes will do.
- 2/3 cup (5 1/2 oz./170 g) crushed plum tomatoes
- 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 batch Food-Processor Pizza Dough, divided into 2 balls
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 4 oz. (125 g) fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces
- Fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces, for topping
Prepare a hot fire in a grill and preheat a grill-top pizza stone for at least 30 minutes, until the thermometer on the stone registers 500ºF (260ºC). Alternatively, preheat a Pizzeria Pronto outdoor pizza oven on high heat for 20 minutes.
In a bowl, combine the tomatoes and the 1 Tbs. olive oil.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the pizza dough balls into a 10-inch (25-cm) round and transfer to a flour-dusted pizza peel. Spread half of the tomato sauce evenly on the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch (12-mm) border uncovered. Sprinkle with half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and dot with half of the mozzarella.
If grilling the pizza, using a pizza peel, carefully slide the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone. Cover the grill and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover the grill and turn the pizza 180 degrees. Cover the grill and continue to cook until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted, 5 to 7 minutes more.
If using the Pizzeria Pronto pizza oven, transfer the pizza to the oven and reduce the heat to medium-high. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted, 6 to 7 minutes, turning the pizza 180 degrees halfway through cooking.
Using the pizza peel, transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and top with basil leaves. Cut into slices and serve immediately. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Makes two 10-inch (25-cm) pizzas.
Zucchini “Pasta” with Mint Pesto
For a dish with more dramatic contrasts of color, use only the squash flesh that includes some of the colored skin. In this case, you will need about 8 green and 8 yellow squashes.
- 1 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves
- 1/3 cup vegetable stock or canned broth
- 3 Tbs. grated asiago cheese, plus extra for
- 2 large garlic cloves, cut up
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 3 yellow summer squashes, about 3/4 lb. total
- 3 zucchini, about 3/4 lb. total
- 1/4 cup chopped shallot
- 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a blender or food processor, combine the mint, stock, 2 Tbs. of the cheese, the garlic and olive oil. Process until smooth. Set the pesto aside.
Using a mandoline or a vegetable peeler, cut the yellow squashes and zucchini into long, narrow ribbons.
Heat a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat. Coat the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the shallot and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the yellow squashes, zucchini and thyme and season generously with salt and pepper. Sauté until the squashes are just tender, about 8 minutes more.
Stir in the mint pesto and heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. cheese.
Roasted Eggplant Lasagna
If you can find only large eggplant, sprinkle the slices with coarse salt on both sides and place in a colander set over a plate. Let drain for about 30 minutes before roasting. The eggplant can be roasted or grilled a day in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.
- 2 eggplants, about 1 1/2 lb. total, cut crosswise into slices 1/2 inch thick
- Olive oil for brushing
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3 cups bolognese sauce
- 1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup slivered fresh basil