Author Notes: Kale, spinach, and the winter greens: not exactly a kid magnet. I thought, why not experiment with baby greens and see if I can slip them by The Gatekeeper? The young always seem to be drawn to that which is even younger. Kittens, puppies, baby birds-why not baby spinach? So I sauteed infant leaves with garlic and plenty of olive oil, and, boy, did it go over. Now when The Gatekeeper crashes through the front door, tired from a long hard school day, if garlic and baby greens are sizzling away on the stove and pizza dough resting on a baking sheet, she sniffs, bursts forth with an enthusiastic "Hooray!" and asks, "when do we eat?" Score!
Sometimes we put the topping over olive oil- brushed flour tortillas and bake them, sometimes we go all out and make pizza dough Either way, it is loved--by young and old. - creamtea
Makes two 11 x 17 pizzas
For the crust
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1-3/4 cup warm water (80º F.)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided (you may need less)
- 1/2 cup bread flour, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- cornmeal and/or flour for dusting
For the topping (makes extra--have some the next day for lunch with a fried egg, or over pasta)
- 10 fat cloves garlic, smashed, five of them minced with a pinch of salt
- olive oil
- 20 ounces mixed winter baby greens (kale, chard, and spinach)
- 3 tablespoons un-toasted pine nuts
- rinsed mild feta cheese, crumbled
- Combine yeast, water and milk in a large bowl. Whisk to combine, then set aside for about 5 minutes
- Whisk in the olive oil, then 1/4 cup of the bread flour and 2 cups of the all-purpose flour. Cover with plastic wrap, then set aside to rise in a warm place for about 1-1/2 hours. (I sometimes warm the oven very briefly on low, then switch it off and put on the pilot light before putting in the yeast- flour mixture to rise). At the end of this time, a bubbly soft sponge of about twice the volume of the original mixture will have formed. With a rubber spatula, stir and fold the sponge to deflate.
- Gradually add the salt, the last 1/4 cup of bread flour, and some of the remaining all-purpose flour, stirring with a wooden spoon and adding just enough until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl forms itself into a cohesive mass. You probably will not need all of the flour. The dough should be soft.
- Put the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, turn on mixer to low speed. Gradually increase speed to medium high and beat about 5 minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic. Turn it out onto a lightly floured board, add a little extra flour if necessary to create a workable dough, and knead for several turns--less than a minute. Oil a large bowl with a thin film of olive oil, form the dough into a smooth ball, and turn it into the bowl. Turn it over to oil the other side, then cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise for about another 1-1/2 hours. After this second rise, you should have a bubbly dough. After deflating and dividing in half, you can wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest overnight in the refrigerator for improved texture, or you can use it now.
- Pre-heat oven to 500º and place a rack on the lowest rung of oven.
- Make the topping: Over medium high heat, warm olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add half the lightly crushed garlic cloves. Simmer and toss until lightly browned, then remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
- Add the remaining garlic cloves to the oil and saute until just starting to turn transparent. (You may wish to use two large skillets to accomodate all of the greens). Add the greens by handfuls, turning and stirring as they cook down making sure to scrape up the garlic as well so it doesn't burn under all those leaves, until all have been added. Saute until limp and the color of dark jade. Remove from heat.
- Take the dough for the crust, divide in half, and stretch each thinly on a floured board to roughly fit each of two 11 x 17 rimmed baking sheets. Don't worry if holes develop or the shape is not perfect--just call it rustic. Grease each sheet with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal using a mesh tea strainer, and place a crust on each. With fingertips, press to form a 1/2 " border, and brush crust, including edges, lightly with olive oil.
- Spread a tangle of greens lightly over each crust, crumble feta cheese and scatter cheese and the reserved garlic cloves over. Keep it light. Place on rack and bake until crust is firm and beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes, depending on your oven. You may need to reduce heat to 400º or 450º to prevent burning, but definitely keep an eye on things. Scatter pine nuts over each and bake an additional 3-5 minutes or until crust is crisp and browned. Remove from oven, cut into squares, and serve.