Saturday, February 5, 2011

Provencal White Pizza with Mache

Anybody who knows Obe and I well knows that we love pizza.  Big time!  So, it seems about time to include a homemade pizza recipe, which will probably be the first of many.  We start with a very basic crust that is made with a mix of whole wheat and white flour.  The "Provencal" flavor comes from sweet caramelized onions, ricotta that is scented with herbs de provence, and roasted fingerling potatoes.  The pizza is topped with a generous pile of oh-so-elegant mache, which is a beautiful, mild-tasting, slightly nutty green.  If mache is unavailable, use any flavorful green you like (sunflower sprouts, arugula, or watercress would work nicely). 

If you've never given yeasted bread a shot, pizza dough is the best place to start.  Especially if you have a standing mixer, it is a simple dough to master and it only takes an hour to rise.  This dough makes enough for two large pizzas, so I divide it in half and par-bake the half that doesn't get used (just bake the crust at 500 degrees, brushed with a little olive oil, until cooked on the outside, about 3 minutes).  That way you have a homemade crust that is ready to go when you are.  You can assemble and bake in less time than pizza takes to deliver, and it'll taste twice as delicious!

Provencal White Pizza with Mache
Serves 2

Pizza dough:
1 cup warm (110 to 115 degrees) water
1 T sugar
1 package yeast
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta
2 tsp herbs de provence
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 T butter
about 8 very small fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 cups mache
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar

Start the dough.  Dissolve sugar into warm water, then mix in the yeast for about a minute, until you get a creamy, beige-colored solution.  Allow to sit for five minutes.  A thin layer of yeast bubbles should form on the top of the mixture.  If not, throw it out and start again (if the water isn't the right temperature, it will either fail to activate or kill the yeast). 

In the bowl of a standing mixer combine the rest of the ingredients with a wooden spoon.  Add the yeast mixture and stir to moisten all the flour.  Mix with the dough hook on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes elastic.  Form dough into a ball and coat the bowl with a little olive oil.  Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl until the surface is coated with oil, then set inside the bowl.  Cover with a dish towel and place in a warm spot in the kitchen.  Allow to double in size, about one hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the toppings.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix ricotta, herbs de provence and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Slice fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Arrange on a baking sheet and roast until browned and a little crispy, about 25 minutes.  Meanwhile, caramelize the onions.  Heat butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add sliced onions and a pinch of salt and saute until golden-brown in color and very sweet.  Set aside. 

Place a pizza stone in the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.  Sprinkle your working surface with a little flour and place the ball of dough in the center.  Knead with your knuckles until all the air bubbles are burst and the dough shrinks a little.  Using a heavy rolling pin, roll out dough into a rustic, oblong shape (or a perfect circle if you wish for a more uniform-looking pizza) until the crust is nice and thin (I like about  1/4 of an inch, for a crispy crust).  Sprinkle flour on a large cutting board and place crust on the board.  Brush dough with a little olive oil and spread the ricotta on first.  Top with onions and potato slices, then sprinkle the grated mozzarella on top.  Slide pizza onto the pizza stone and bake until crust is lightly browned, about 8 minutes. 

Remove pizza from oven with a large metal spatula.  Slide onto a cutting board.  In a large bowl, toss the mache with the vinegar and a pinch of salt.  Place greens on the pizza and slice with a pizza cutter or a large knife.  Serve immediately.


  1. oh my goodness this sounds good.
    I guess we need to get over our pizza crust fear.

  2. Mmmm, I need to come over for dinner soon! Miss you guys a whole lot. xoxo