The first pizza I ever cooked from scratch was in the rarified oven of the original Spago in Hollywood, where I cooked during its last year of service. My next gig was learning alongside a Brooklyn native who was fanatical about thin crust pizza. And while I loved the pizzas I learned to make during that time, they require time and energy I often don't have on a weeknight after a long day at work (I long ago traded my whites for a day job as a lawyer...what was I thinking?!?). But some nights I simply must have pizza. This pizza dough can go from a mere glint in my eye to the oven in about an hour, the sauce requires no cooking, and the toppings come together during the very brief time the dough takes to rise. I call this a margaritesque pizza because, like the traditional Margherita, it boasts the colors of the italian flag, but I've added peppery watercress pesto and goat cheese for a springy punch. Asparagus and mushrooms seal the deal. This pizza dough gets even better if you can let it rest in the refrigerator for 4-12 hours, but I almost never have that much time, and I've never heard any complaints. - cottageindustrialist —cottageindustrialist
Test Kitchen Notes
Each step of CottageIndustrialist's recipe so perfectly and precisely economizes every precious weeknight minute to ensure a gourmet pizza dinner in just under an hour (honestly, there is not a moment to spare until the pizza goes in the oven, but the labors are worth it, and you can rest when you are done). The dough bakes up with a nice crisp exterior crust that gives way to a lovely chewy center. The flavor of the uncooked shallots steeps quickly into the crushed tomatoes, creating a sauce that has both freshness and depth (we used only half the tablespoon of salt here, which was perfect). More brightness with the watercress pesto, and the snap of lots of fresh black pepper muddled with the goat cheese, made this pizza a delight to eat. - Jennifer Ann —The Editors
two medium pizzas or one large pizza
watercress, roughly chopped
crushed tomatoes (preferrably from san marzano)
small shallot, chopped
cracked black pepper
fresh mozzarella, sliced and drained
In This Recipe
Preheat oven to 550° with a pizza stone on the center rack.
Combine yeast, honey, and water in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let rest 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine watercress, basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and pecorino in a blender or food processor. Puree until slightly chunky. Set aside.
Combine semolina, all-purpose flour, and salt in a bowl. With a wooden spoon, or in the stand mixer on low speed, slowly add half the flour, mixing until incorporated. Begin mixing more vigorously until the mixture begins to look stringy. Slowly add the rest of the flour and mix until well combined. The mixture should be slightly tacky, but not wet. Add extra water or flour 1 teaspoon at a time until it reaches this consistency.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for 2-3 minutes. Divide into 2 pieces, rolling each into tight balls. Cover with a dampened cloth and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, shallot, and 1 T salt. (The crushed tomatoes I buy are very thick, about the consistency of tapenade or homemade ketchup--if yours are more watery, you may need to cook them down a bit.) Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine goat cheese with 1 T crushed black pepper.
Sauté asparagus and mushrooms in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until the asparagus is bright green and the mushrooms are just beginning to brown.
Assemble the pizza: Cover a pizza peel with a sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle the paper lightly with semolina. Either hand-stretch or roll out the pizza to about 12" diameter. Spread 1/4 - 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Scatter mozarella and dollops of goat cheese and pesto. Top with asparagus and mushrooms.
Slide pizza and parchment onto the baking stone, and cook for 6-9 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and crust is golden brown. Let rest 2-3 minutes before cutting. Repeat with second pizza.