In the kitchen, scratching my head and wondering what to prepare for dinner, I usually PUNT! and rely on my favorite homemade remedy, PIZZA.
No muss, no fuss. Just plain and simple pre-packaged, store-bought ingredients from my Italian supermarket thrown together like scattered landscape in the tornado’s path, and, Voila!, a mouthwatering, quick-and-easy dinner for the guy, or gal, who has little or no clue around the kitchen; or, like me, both clueless and, admittedly, just plain lazy. Sure, I could easily walk down the street, turn right at the corner and order a professionally prepared wood-fired pie to take back home, or simply pop a frozen one in the microwave. But what’s the fun in that?
Honestly, I hate more than anything the cleanup that follows a big galley production, so with this simple recipe I limit the dirty dishes and can wipe up while my casual culinary work of art bubbles away in the oven.
Since I’ve become a frequent visitor to Rome – usually one trip a month – I’ve come to enjoy pizza bianca, literally white pizza sans the base tomato sauce. Instead, when I want tomatoes I use pomodorini (cherry tomatoes), cut in half or left whole, and dot them around on top.
In addition to white pizza, I’ve also totally converted over to the thin and crispy alla Romana style that so many Romans enjoy. Forget all the thick, soft, deep-dish types of pies that leave your plate full of Lincoln logs when you’re done; I’ll take my pizza thinner than a runway model any old day.
No arduous kneading of dough, my homemade versions are made with Italian flatbread, Piadina Romagnola from the Emilia-Romagna region. These flatbreads measure about the size of a standard pizzeria pie, but without any crust whatsoever. And, sacrilegious as it may sound, I do not use Mozzarella on my homemade pizza. Instead, I spread on a nice thick layer of Stracchino cheese as my base and build from there.
To demonstrate, I’ll explain the steps involved in bringing my Pesto-Based Flatbread Pizza, topped with tomatoes, black olives and salami, to la tavola.
PESTO-BASED FLATBREAD PIZZA
Ingredients (per person)
Parchment baking paper or aluminum foil
1 Piadina Romagnola (or similar large flatbread)
60 grams (2.10 oz.) of Stracchino cheese (or Crescenza or Robiola)
45 grams (3 tablespoons) of Pesto Genovese w/ garlic
1.25 grams (1/4 teaspoon) of crushed/ground red pepper (more or less depending upon your threshold for heat)
4 thin slices of Salame Milanese (Milano style salami)
14-16 small or 1 dozen medium sized Datterino cherry tomatoes
14-16 oven baked whole Moroccan style black olives
15-20 grams (3-4 teaspoons) of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Prep time: 10-minutes
Cooking time: 15-minutes
Step-1: Pre-heat over to 200C (390-400F)
(While the oven pre heats)
Step-2: Cover your oven tray with parchment baking paper or aluminum foil
Step-3: Place the Piadina on the paper/foil
Step-4: Stracchino cheese – Spread the cheese all around the piadina
Step-5: Pesto Genovese – Spread the pesto over the stop of the cheese
Step-6: (Optional) Sprinkle Red Pepper on top
Step-7: Salame Milanese – Place slices, evenly spaced, on top
Step-8: Cherry Tomatoes – Cut in half or placed whole (depending on size)
Step-9: Black Olives – Place whole olives around and in between the tomatoes
Step-10: Parmigiano-Reggiano – sprinkle the cheese until the pie is fully covered like Monte Bianco in winter
Step-11: Place the Flatbread Pizza in the oven, wait 15-minutes, then remove
Step-12: Plate the Pizza and serve with your favorite Mixed Green Salad
Wine Pairing: Savardo Pinot Nero Superiore (DOC) – Cantina Beato Bartolomeo – Breganze, IT – A balanced and elegantly refined dry, full-bodied medium-to-deep ruby red Pinot. Fruity to the nose with hints of spice.
Feel free to vary the ingredients to satisfy your tastebuds. Substitute cooked ham for the salami; drop the pesto and spread black olive pate’ instead; use red, yellow and orange bell pepper slices vice the tomatoes; use French Brie cheese in place of the Parmigiano-Reggiano; or, top it off with a good helping of Arugula leaves. The combinations are endless.
The next time you find yourself in the kitchen scratching your head wondering what to prepare for dinner as the “game” clock winds down, don’t sweat it. Just do what I do, PUNT!, then make a homemade flatbread pizza. Do let me know how your creation turns out.