Stuck with a surplus of farmers market ingredients—say, a shitload of squash blossoms—and not sure what to do? Pizza is your answer. Give me your tired, your weary, says the pizza pie, your slightly bruised tomatoes and flaccid asparagi. Of course, fresh is best, but when it comes to the just past prime, a thin crust is an equal opportunity employer.
We've never made pizza before, but armed with a new pizza stone (a $40 investment at Fante's) and two balls of springy, olive oil-glossed dough from a local pizzeria (a $6 investment), things came together easily—so easily in fact we were pretty sure we had effed something up along the way. Could it really be as simple as flouring our board and hands? Could something as common sense as working the dough with our fists (not dramatically tossing it in the air) really achieve a trim, brittle crust worth talking about? Could a lack of methodology in topping application really be the best method of all? Turns out, yes, yes and yes.
We prepared two pies. The first was an improv of a traditional Margherita, with fresh Mancuso's mozzarella; sweet, fragrant tarragon (instead of basil) from the garden; and in-a-pinch heirloom tomato marinara, simply one big Brandywine chopped and pureed with a drizzle of oil, salt, pepper, a spoonful of tomato paste and a touch of water). The second pie required a bit of forethought, meaning we had to defrost a batch of April's nutty, garlicky-good ramp pesto. The pesto paired up with grand, trumpet-like squash blossoms; baby green zucchini (Blooming Glen sells the fruit with the flowers); a handful of Tom Culton's lime-toned patty pans; chopped garlic scapes in the bottom of the vegetable bin for at least three weeks; and more fresh mozzarella.
We cranked the oven to 500, popped in the pizzas and waited about 15 minutes. By then, the heat had burnished the crusts a fetching golden brown and rendered the toppings bubbly, charred and commingled, like beer does for strangers at a party. Four quick strikes with a serrated pizza wheel (also from Fante's) turned each 10-inch pie into eight even slices, eagerly washed down with copious amounts of Sunshine Pils. Not saying we're Osteria-worthy pizzaoili or anything, but both pied were pretty freaking fantastic: crisp, smoky, bursting with the ripeness of their respective toppings. Our dinner guests were rather impressed. Let's keep it our secret that we had no clue what we were doing.
Video: Youtube. Photo: blogalicious