HUNGER PAINS

Mustard Green Pizza

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For me, cracking the fridge open at exactly noon means I need something in my tummy and QUICK. In pure desperation, I pull leftover dough, mustard greens and Parmesan cheese out of the fridge. Because of my passion for combining Italian and Southern influences, my mind automatically wheels in the direction of creating a pizza with Southern flair. So with pangs in my stomach, I swiftly roll out the dough and slather it with marinara. While the pizza is baking, I quickly, quickly, sauté mustard greens with red pepper flakes, garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice. Once the pizza is golden and crispy, I pile the greens onto the baked pie and shave Parmesan cheese on top, and the result is unexpected perfection. Buon appetito, ya’ll.

Cast of Characters

Serves 1 Hungry Soul:

For the Mustard Green Topping:

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 pinch of red pepper flakes

½ bunch of mustard greens, triple washed and dried

Juice of 1 lemon wedge

Salt and pepper to taste

Pull the leafy greens off the tough stalks of the mustard greens. Discard of the stalks and set greens aside.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Once the garlic beings to shimmer and shake in the pan, add the greens and juice from lemon. Quickly toss all of the ingredients together and sauté for 2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the Pizza:

1 portion of Basic Pizza Dough

2 tablespoons of favorite homemade or jarred marinara

Mustard green topping (see recipe above)

Parmesan cheese shavings, to taste

Preheat oven with pizza stone to 500 degrees

On a sheet of foil dusted with flour, place pizza dough in the middle and gently roll the pizza dough into a circle until thin (you can also pick up the dough and gently stretch the dough with your hands.) Spoon 2 tablespoons of marinara over the dough and spread close to the edges.

Place in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Transfer the pizza to a plate and scatter with prepared mustard greens and a healthy scattering of Parmesan cheese shavings. Enjoy!

 

Southern Love+ Italian Cuisine= Pure Heaven

This dish combines my love for both Southern and Italian cuisine, and, not to mention, it was made by complete happenstance. I was making fried okra as a snack one day (don’t judge me) and I was prepping pizza dough for dinner as well. I glanced at my working station and saw fresh dough, heirloom tomatoes and fried okra. Could this really work? Allowing my curiosity to wonder, I rolled out the dough, laid fresh tomatoes on the surface and dotted handmade mozzarella underneath the orbs. I let the ingredients bubble for a few minutes in the oven and then threw the fried okra on the pizza. What a sensation! The creamy cheese contrasted with the crunchy okra while the tomatoes added a level of lightness and freshness that the dish craved. This pizza combines seasonal Southern ingredients with Italian tradition. Boun appetito, ya’ll!

Recipe: Makes 4 Individual Pizzas

4 Portions of Basic Pizza Dough

Pizza sauce (recipe below)

2 tomatoes, sliced into rounds

8 ounces of fresh mozzarella

1 serving of fried okra, cut at an angle (recipe below)

Fresh chopped basil and parsley, for garnish

Salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese, for serving

To make the pizza:

Preheat oven to 5000 with a pizza stone in the oven (Make sure that your oven is clean or else the fire department might be inviting themselves over for dinner). Let the stone preheat for at least 45 minutes in the oven.

On a piece of aluminum foil dusted with flour, roll out 1 portion of dough. Create a thin layer of sauce, place tomato rounds on the pizza and place small, marble-sized pieces of mozzarella underneath the tomatoes. Place in oven for 10 minutes. Scatter the fried okra pieces on top of the pizza and season with herbs, salt and pepper. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Pizza Sauce:

2 Tbs. of olive oil

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 pinch of red pepper flakes

1 28 oz. can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed

1 pinch of sugar

1 sprig of basil, leaves only

Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauté pan on medium temperature, heat olive oil. Add sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds or just until golden. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add sugar. Bring to slight boil and let simmer for 30 minutes. Take off heat and add basil leaves. Set aside.

Fried Okra:

2 cups of okra, washed

2 cups of buttermilk

1 cup of cornmeal

¼ cup of all-purpose flour

1 pinch of cayenne

Vegetable oil (for frying)

Salt and pepper to taste

Place at least 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large skillet and allow the oil to reach 350o.

Pick through the okra, any okra smaller than the size of your pinky, leave whole. Cut any larger than the size of your pinky in half and at an angle. In a bowl, combine the buttermilk and okra. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cornmeal mixture. Combine cornmeal, flour, cayenne, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Stir ingredients together with a fork. Make sure that you put a good amount of seasoning in at this point, don’t be stingy. Drain the okra from the buttermilk and gently roll the okra in the cornmeal mixture. Shake off any excess breading. Carefully place the okra in the hot oil. Let the okra brown on both sides and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with more salt. Use immediately.