Arugula Pesto, Spicy Pork & Spinach Pizza

By • September 10, 2012 0 Comments

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Author Notes: I needed a vehicle for arugula pesto! I also had extra spicy pork, steamed spinach, and goat cheese on my hands. But while this pizza started out as leftovers, I think I'll be making it again for its own sake. The ingredients come together most deliciously--a little sweet, a little spicy. I think the textures balance well too. Cristina Sciarra

Makes 1 large pizza

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, divided
  • 1/2 a large white onion
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper paste
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • Pecorino cheese
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • a ball of your favorite pizza dough
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  1. Heat the oven to 500F. Put a pizza stone (or a hearty sheet pan) in the oven to heat as well.
  2. Make the pork: Finely dice 3 cloves of the garlic. Slice up the onion crosswise, as thinly as possible.
  3. Pour the olive oil into a wide pan, and let it heat for a minute over medium heat. Add the garlic, and then the onion. Give everything a little stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent.
  4. Add the golden raisins, and stir to envelope them in the garlic/onion. Keep them on the heat for a few minutes, until they begin to plump.
  5. Add the ground pork. (Hopefully your pan is wide enough so that it isn't too packed. Otherwise, you can cook in batches; you want the pork to brown, not steam.) Let the pork brown a little in parts, before you stir it around. Cook until the pork is no longer pink.
  6. Add the hot pepper paste, a big pinch of salt, and a little crack of black pepper. Stir to combine. You can adjust the hot pepper paste and the salt to your liking. Remove the pork from the heat and set it aside.
  7. Make the spinach: Empty the spinach into a pot. Add a few tablespoons of water, put the lid on the pot, and set the heat to low. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until it's wilty. Add the cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. (It it's super watery, drain.)
  8. Make the pesto: Roast the garlic cloves. (I rub the cloves in a little bit of olive oil, wrap them in aluminum foil, and toss them into a 350F oven for about 20 minutes. However, if you are cooking something else in the oven the day of or night before, use the heat of that oven to roast the cloves.) Peel the cloves, and let them cool.
  9. Toast the hazelnuts. (You can do this as you roast the garlic, if you like. I keep the hazelnuts in a 350F oven for 10-12 minutes, shaking them around in the pan once or twice during cooking. Remove them from the oven when they are light brown in spots, and smell good.) Wait for them to cool.
  10. I use a microplane grater to shred the Pecorino. I grate enough to fill 1/2 cup, not at all packed. However, if you use a larger-holed cheese grater, I might stop somewhere between 1/4 cup-1/2 cup.
  11. Move the (cooled) hazelnuts to a food processor. Pulse for about 1 minute, or until the hazelnuts are reduced to the texture of sand.
  12. Add the arugula, the garlic, the Pecorino, the lemon juice, the salt, and a healthy crack of black pepper to the food processor. Blend for about a minute, slowly adding the olive oil as it whirs. Stop when you achieve a 'creamy' texture.
  13. Assemble the pizzas: Spin the pizza dough out as you normally would. Use a spoon to spread a generous layer of the arugula pesto. Next add the pork, spooning it evenly all around. Lay the spinach all over the pork (it should be pretty damp, which will protect it from drying out in the oven). Finish by scattering the goat cheese evenly over the pizza. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the crusts look golden. Serve hot.

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