We have developed a family tradition of making pizza on Friday nights. It is wonderful family time, but it also serves another sneaky purpose that only a mother could love: it helps me clean out the refrigerator. Pizza is the perfect vehicle for using all those orphan vegetables or odd bits of this and that. This combination was created out of such odds and ends and it has become one of our favorites.
The recipe for the dough is adapted from Biba Caggiano's Trattoria Cooking. I experimented with the proportion of semoina to all purpose flour and found that using half semolina flour gives the dough a fantastic texture and flavor.
1 medium thin crust pizza
for the dough
2 1/4 teaspoons
(or 1 packet) active dry yeast
unbleached all purpose flour
to finish the pizza
olive oil, divided
garlic cloves, minced, divided
a few shakes
chopped fresh chard
In This Recipe
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix everything briefly with a wooden spoon until the wet ingredients are incorporated into the flour. Then mix the dough by hand until everything is blended.
Turn the dough out onto a counter and knead it for 5 to 6 minutes. The dough should be smooth and stretchy. If it is sticky, add a bit more flour and knead it again for a minute or two.
Form the dough into a ball and put it in a large bowl. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set the dough aside to rise for three or more hours. After three hours, the dough should have doubled and you should see small bubbles throughout.
About a half hour before you are ready to cook the pizza, put a pizza stone or baking tiles in the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees. Let the stone heat for about 30 minutes.
While the stone heats, prepare the toppings. In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of olive oil and half of the garlic. Set aside. Warm the remaining oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add the remaining garlic and the chard. Add the peperoncini if you are using them. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chard is wilted.
After the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and flatten it onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out with a rolling pin as thin as possible, ideally at least 16 inches in diameter. Don't worry about making the pizza round, let the pizza form whatever shape it wants. Remove the pizza stone from the oven, sprinkle it with a bit of semolina flour or coarse cornmeal and transfer the dough onto the stone.
Brush the dough with the garlic olive oil. Distribute the chard evenly over the pizza, and top with the cheese. Bake until the crust and cheese are lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.