Sunday, July 27, 2008

Garlicky Goat Cheese Pizza
with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil

Ever since I posted my Calm That Pizza Craving recipe on this blog a month ago, I have been yearning to experiment further and improve upon it.

Here are three reasons why I love pizza:

(a) It's quick to make -- a real bonus when cooking for hungry children,
(b) Pizza is physically and emotionally satisfying to eat... and,
(c) You can eat it with your hands!

With such delicious crusts from Kinnikinnick to work with, I plan to create a whole variety of pizza recipes to satisfy everyone in my family. For example, my husband is a huge pepperoni pizza lover while our children prefer straight cheese... and I myself have been hankering for a vegetarian pizza to love. I think I’ve found it!

The secret to the seasoning here is: light on the tomato sauce, fresh with the greens. Unfortunately, canned spinach and dry basil just aren’t going to give you the same incredible taste.

Before making this pizza recipe you should know that it is deliciously rich, thanks to the goat cheese and fresh mozzarella. If you are preparing it as a main course, I would suggest complementing each pizza with a fresh green salad on the side and perhaps offering your guests a light sorbet for dessert.

Garlicky Goat Cheese Pizza with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil

What You’ll Need:

Two 7-inch Kinnikinnick pizza crusts
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, minced
½ cup sun dried tomatoes, minced
2 fresh vine ripened tomatoes (medium size)
2 oz fresh mozzarella
4 – 5 oz fresh goat cheese
10 fresh basil leaves (mince 8 of them)
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 – 4 tbsp olive oil
4 oz tomato sauce
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

How It Works:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

In a small sauté pan, heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil at medium temperature until hot but not smoking. Add minced garlic and sauté for 1 - 2 minutes until fragrant but not browned. Set aside.

Using a sharp knife or small food processor, mince your spinach, sun dried tomatoes and basil – but do each separately so that they are not all in the processor at the same time. Once these ingredients are very finely chopped, pour them all into a large mixing bowl. Add sautéed garlic and mix with a wooden spoon or fork.

Next, add your goat cheese to the mixture and blend it all together very thoroughly. The end result will be a paste that is slightly funny looking – a bit brownish and greenish, but oh my goodness it is delicious! (Once the pizza cooks, these ingredients will once again look lovely.)

In the same pan you used for the garlic warm the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and oregano at low medium temperature until it begins to bubble like this:

Place your Kinnikinnick pizza crusts on a stainless steel baking tray and douse each one with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Using a butter knife, spread the olive oil evenly across the top of the crust.

Then with the same knife, spread a thin layer of your goat cheese mixture evenly across each pizza. Keep in mind that the thicker you make this layer of cheese, the richer your pizza will be.

Spoon half of your warm tomato sauce into the center of each pizza. Then, as shown in this picture (below) add several small slices of fresh mozzarella in the center of each pizza, so that it begins to resemble the center of a flower:

Slice your fresh tomatoes into thin round slices and then cut each one in half lengthwise. Arrange the slices around your pizza so that they look like the petals of the flower:

Dust with salt and fresh ground black pepper according to your own preference.

Place pizzas on tray in your preheated oven and bake for approx 10 – 12 minutes (checking to make sure it does not burn) until the mozzarella in the center is fully melted and the pizza crust is crispy but not overly browned.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer.

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