Three Cheese Pizza with Arugula and Sage

We have a lot of arugula.

I can’t keep up with it. Yesterday I gave a bag to a neighbor, but even that didn’t make a dent.  The heat lately has made our arugula increasingly peppery. It’s time to use it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about arugula on pizza. I had some with proscuitto recently, which is always a good combination. However,  it echoed a pasta dish I made a few weeks ago. Time to try something else.

This pizza was unbelievable. Together, Fontina, Gorganzola and Parmiggiano-Reggiano were strong enough to stand up to the arugula but weren’t over powering. The sage and red onion added another layer of flavor. It was the kind of dinner that made me wonder why I’d never made this particular pizza before.

And the crust. The crust! I almost made the crust I typically use when making pizza. I’m glad I didn’t . This one was better. The dough was easy to work with. The crust turned out crispy and wonderful.

One tip on pizza making. This and other pizza recipes tell you to coat a pizza peel with corn meal, and with a jerk of the wrist, slip the pizza onto a hot baking stone in the oven. I’m incredibly inept at this. The pizza always ends partly sticking to the peel, and toppings end up on the oven floor. Jeff scurries to remove the smoke detector while I pout. To solve this, I’ve started putting parchment paper on the peel rather than cornmeal. The pizza slides right into the oven.

Three Cheese Pizza with Arugula and Sage
adapted (just barely)  from Gourmet, via Epicurious

For dough

1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
About 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup warm water (105-115°F)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons cornmeal (or parchment paper)

For topping

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces Italian Fontina cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2/3 cup)
2 ounces crumbled  Gorgonzola
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (1 medium)
6 large fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise (1 tablespoon)
1/2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 cup)
About 2 ounces loosely packed baby arugula leaves (2 cups)

Special equipment: a pizza stone

Make dough:
Place pizza stone on floor of gas oven or on lowest rack if using an electric oven and preheat oven to 500°F (allow 1 hour for pizza stone to heat).

Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water in a measuring cup and let stand until mixture develops a creamy foam on surface, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Stir together 1 1/4 cups flour with salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture, oil, and remaining 1/2 cup warm water and stir until smooth. Stir in enough flour (about 1/2 cup) to make dough come away from sides of bowl. (Dough will be wetter than other pizza doughs you may have made.)

Knead dough on lightly floured surface with lightly floured hands (reflour hands when dough becomes too sticky) until smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form dough into a ball, put on a lightly floured surface, and generously dust with flour. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/4 hours. Dust a wooden peel or a large baking sheet (without sides) with cornmeal.

Do not punch down dough. Carefully dredge dough in a bowl of flour to coat and transfer to a dry work surface. Holding one edge of dough in the air with both hands and letting bottom just touch the work surface, carefully and quickly move hands around edge of dough (like turning a steering wheel), allowing weight of dough to stretch round to roughly 10 inches. Lay dough flat on peel or baking sheet. Continue to work edge of dough with your fingers, stretching it into a 14-inch round.

Make topping:
Brush dough with oil, leaving a 1-inch border, then scatter Fontina and Gorgonzola over dough (leaving a 1-inch border). Scatter onion and sage leaves over cheese. Sprinkle pizza with Parmigiano-Reggiano, then line up far edge of peel with far edge of stone in oven and tilt peel, jerking it gently to start pizza moving. When edge of pizza touches stone, quickly pull back peel to transfer pizza to stone (do not pull back pizza). Bake until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling, 10 to 12 minutes. Slide peel under pizza to remove from oven, then top with arugula.


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