What is the appeal of making pizza at home? I mean, you have to make the dough, pray that the humidity is in your favor to ensure that it is elastic enough (but not too elastic) and also pray that the pizza will make it in one piece from the peel to the oven, regardless of the amount of cornmeal spread on the peel to help the process along. Yes, there are many things conspiring against you when you attempt to make pizza in the summertime, but one key advantage has you coming back to through more dough down every time: the power of custom toppings.Homemade pizza becomes a blank canvas for me to test flavor combinations that seem like they’d be natural partners but I’d yet to try out–and the latest of these was tomato and tarragon. I love tarragon; in fact, it’s one of my favorite herbs because I’m a sucker for anything tasting of licorice, and when I read recently that tomatoes and tarragon make for a classic pairing I was intent on giving it a try. It ended up being the perfect starting pizza for Michael and I, because he wanted one that wasn’t heavy on the cheese. A simple sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes, garlic and salt went on the pie first and sprinkled with a little Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and then with only a few minutes remaining on the baking process the oven was opened and the remainder was tossed on, along with a heavy sprinkling of tarragon.
As for the second pie…well, I have to say that Michael and I almost came to verbal blows when he saw what I had purchased from the deli at Fairway. As is likely the case across the country, the Fairway deli case is notoriously busy on Sundays, and waiting ten minutes while other customers load up on cold cuts and potato salads is a necessary evil. I’m usually the one stuck waiting while Michael breezes through the cold room to pick up meat, seafood and dairy, and the longer I wait the more intrigued I become by unknown salami logs covered in that familiar white mold. I bought one made in Piemonte that was in part made with Barolo (because how can that NOT be good?) and when I proudly showed Michael my find…he was not pleased. He was expecting some nice salami from Genoa, not this hard, dried-out log that was not easy to slice and even less easier to bite into on the finished product…but so it goes.
(The biggest question that arose was to blonde-bake the dough; we normally don’t take that step, but I think if you’re going to bake the pizza in the midst of summer, it’s almost mandatory to do so. It will definitely make the topping-heavy pizza transition to the oven much easier, that’s for sure.)
And trust that there was no grumpiness present at the dinner table when we dove into this delightful pie.
Goat Cheese, Salami and Roasted Red Pepper Pizza
- 1/2 quantity of pizza dough
- 6-8oz of aged goat cheese (i.e. not the stuff in the log), grated
- 1 red pepper
- 1 link of dried Italian salami, sliced.
Preheat the oven to be ready to broil. Stem and seed the red pepper and then quarter it. Arrange the quarters on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast for about 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the pepper slices at all times. When the skin is blackened, removed from the oven and place into a covered bowl to steam; when cooler, remove skins and slice into strips.
When the pepper is done, change the oven to bake but maintain the high temperature to bake the pizza.
Stretch the dough as you normally would onto a pizza peel, transfer to the oven and bake for about 6 minutes to get a nice blonde-bake on the pizza (note: this is particularly helpful in the summer and/or if you want to use sauces, because you create a solid base for the toppings to sit upon) and remove to add the toppings. Add the cheese, peppers and salami to the pizza, return to the oven and bake for another 6 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Let rest for a few minutes after the pizza is removed from the oven and then slice and serve.