I can’t believe it, but this pizza marked the very first time that I made pizza dough from scratch (I have used Trader Joe’s pizza dough in the past). In fact, I rarely make pizza, and that is largely because I live in New York City, where excellent pizza can be found on almost every block. Our favorite neighborhood pizza place is called Al Forno. It is a casual, laid-back family restaurant where the servers recognize us when we walk in, and where we know that we can count on a great arugula salad and a delicious thin-crust pizza made with fresh mozzarella cheese. It makes me hungry just thinking about it!
The recipe below came to fruition because I was inspired by a pizza that I had last year at the well-known vegetarian restaurant, Greens, in San Francisco. The pizza that I had at Greens was topped with a fresh cilantro pesto, heirloom beans, poblano peppers, and smoked cheddar. It was unique and incredibly tasty. Our pizza was supposed to be an easy weeknight dinner, so I didn’t bother roasting poblanos and instead mixed canned green chilis into pinto beans that I mashed and seasoned simply with salt and pepper. I did, however, make the cilantro pesto from scratch, combining fresh cilantro, garlic, walnuts, and a touch of parmesan cheese in the food processor. We also didn’t have any smoked cheddar on hand (in fact, I’m not the biggest fan of smoked cheeses) so I used a combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese.
When the pizza came out of my oven, I was relatively happy. It certainly didn’t look like an artisan pizza, but it tasted great despite the fact that I wasn’t thrilled with the recipe that I used to make the whole wheat pizza dough. I found a recipe for whole wheat pizza dough in Eating Well; the recipe called for part all-purpose flour and part whole wheat pastry flour. I immediately questioned the use of pastry flour, which in general is too low in protein to make good bread, but figured I would try it anyway. As I labored away in my small New York kitchen, kneading my dough for a good 20 minutes, I knew something was wrong. Despite my worst fears, the crust was certainly edible, it just didn’t have the soft, doughy spring of a good pizza dough. Next time, I’ll try a new recipe but the toppings on this pizza are certainly worth giving a try. Since I haven’t perfected the recipe, I won’t share it with you quite yet. To be continued…