Bitter Greens Pizza

It was Halloween weekend and a six hour drive from Boston to Philly.  The drive down was kind of perfect.  We were on our way to a wedding (his friends) and it had been a while since we took a mini-vacation for ourselves.  We talked about prior relationships, about how we love Coldplay’s album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, and we laughed about embarrassing childhood memories.  To couple that with stopping at practically every Starbucks we encountered, the six hours in a car wasn’t so bad.

Yet, with each state line we crossed, I became more anxious.  I had never met his best mates from college before, so I started thinking the usual “crazy.”

“Will they like me?”
“Will they think I’m pretty?”
“Will they think I’m funny?”
“What about their girlfriends!?!”

I’ll be the first to admit it, women secretly compete with each other.  There may be some ladies out there, completely adamant that we do not. But trust me, we do.

When we meet each other for the first time, we compare ourselves to each other.  First, it’s looks, then the list can vary amongst women.  With me it’s: career, personality, clothing, then it gets incredibly trivial (if it hasn’t already), nitpicking at things like, “wow, your laugh is REALLY annoying. Stop finding everything I say funny. Stop.”  I mean, who hates someone that finds you funny?  I do, if you laugh sounds like a bag of wailing cats.

Strangely enough, I didn’t exactly hate my time there.  I actually had a bit of fun, and ending up liking all of the wives.  The girlfriends on the other hand, not so much.  Perhaps it’s because they all knew each other prior to the wedding, but as I explained to Roo, they all had, “bitch face.”  And to my surprise, he later admitted, “yeah, it’s true.”

But it wasn’t the girlfriends that ruined our weekend.  It was something that was my fault, but in reality (after talking about it a day later), a giant misunderstanding between the both of us.

It was the night of the reception, and a bit of alcohol was consumed.  I had said something rude to Roo before we went to bed, and unfortunately, it was blown out of proportion.  Way, way out of proportion.

The car ride home was utter hell.  He didn’t talk to me. The whole six hours.

I was pretty much convinced due to my lack of self-editing that we were going to break up.  It made me angry, then sad, and then we were back in Boston; pulling into the Whole Foods so I could buy groceries to make dinner with.

I ran inside, not knowing what I was going to cook.  I randomly grabbed a few things, and before I knew it, we were back in our apartment.  He was on the couch, and I was sitting at the kitchen table looking at a paper bag filled with god-know’s-what I grabbed.

Perhaps it was the mood I was in, perhaps it’s because we had the whole weekend to indulge and my liver was crying out for antioxidants, but what I whipped up that night was Bitter Greens Pizza.

It’s a dish that I saw on Anthony Bourdain’s show, No Reservations.  He spoke about this spinach pizza (go to 11:30) that was made by Jim Lahey at Co.  At Co they call it the “Popeye,” but to me it will always be, “Bitter Greens.”

It was exactly what I wanted: bite from the spinach, a little salty from the pecorino, but coated your tongue nicely with that melty gooey mozzarella.  And when you’re sad, really really sad, it’s kind of perfect to make you feel just a little bit better.

Adapted from Jim Lahey at Co

I’m going to be the first to tell you that I have no shame that I buy pizza dough at Whole Foods.  It’s under $2, and I make two pizzas (about 10″ each) with it.  I have made pizza dough before (courtesy of Artisan Bread In Five Minutes a Day), but I just didn’t taste the difference.

For those of you who would like a homemade pizza dough recipe, this one is great.  But, I’m a bit lazy.  And when I want pizza, I want it now.  Whole Foods pizza dough makes me live that dream.

Toppings:

Olive Oil

2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced

1/4 cup swiss cheese grated (I use Jarlsberg)

1/8 cup pecorino cheese grated

1/8 cup mozzarella grated (I used low moisture since it’s what I had in my fridge)

1/4 pound fresh spinach with tough stems removed (about a half a bag of the pre-washed spinach you find at your local grocer)

Put your pizza stone in the oven on the middle rack.  Preheat your oven to as high as it’ll go before broil.  On our’s it’s 550F.

Throw a half handful of all purpose flour down on a square of parchment paper that will be about the size of your pizza stone.  If you have a pizza peel, prepare your pizza on that.  Otherwise, if you keep forgetting to purchase a peel until you make you pizza, like I do, parchment paper it is.

Add a couple splashes of olive oil onto the dough.  Stretch out the dough manually with your hands.  I find that working the dough this way results in 1) not having the pizza dough fall on the ground when I attempt to throw it, 2) it doesn’t get overworked.  Note: your pizza will NOT be round.  But that’s ok.  Your goal is to make the crust as thin as you can be stretching it out manually.  According to Jim Lahey, 12 is the magic number (skip ahead to 13:40).

Arrange your swiss cheese, pecorino, mozzarella around your pizza so that with every bite you get a combination of all three cheeses.  Throw your slices of garlic about your pizza as well, with the same principle in mind.  Top your pizza with the spinach.  It’ll look like a giant mound of leaves on top, but it’ll wilt down after spending time in your hot hot oven.

Slide your pizza onto your stone in your oven.  If you’re using parchment paper, bake for five minutes, then remove the parchment paper from underneath the pizza so the stone.  By that time, the dough will have partially baked and will release easily from the parchment paper.  You want to remove the paper so that the dough can form and excellent crust by baking on the stone.  Bake for an additional five minutes.

If you’re not using a stone, bake for a total of ten minutes.

Around the ten minute mark, I start peeking into my oven to see where the crust and toppings are in the brown/burn stage.  I like it to be super brown (ie almost burned), it takes about an additional minute after the first peek for the pizza to be done.  But your tastes (and oven) might be drastically different from mine.  Keep an eye on your pizza as it will bake quickly at this temperature, and take it out when it reaches your liking of crust color.

Place on a cutting board to cool.  Cut with a serrated bread knife (seriously, who needs pizza wheels?) in a sweeping motion and serve.

I highly recommend eating the pizza by folding it in half so that the spinach is surrounded by cheesy garlicky goodness.  But you may think that’s not classy.  This is Liz Lemon Nights.  We’re classy like wine out of a box.  And night cheese.

2 thoughts on “Bitter Greens Pizza

  1. Pingback: Barley Risotto (with Kale) « Liz Lemon Nights

  2. Pingback: Cooking Playlist 2 « Liz Lemon Nights

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