How do you like your slice of pizza … cold or warm? Pizza isn’t a traditional mid-morning meal, but it was recently made for a brunch pot luck at work. To a health conscious foodie, potlucks are a bit problematic, because most participants bring store-brought food, especially sweets. A morning meal full of sugar eventually causes drowniness in the afternoon, and it lacks the nourishment needed for an evening workout. To avoid a super sweet potluck, I volunteer to make a savory dish. The challenge is thinking of a recipe, in which its ingredients retain its freshness, regardless of its temperature.
Morning egg dishes won’t work with this menu, because they’re best served hot off the skillet. Believe it or not, having pizza for a brunch potluck is a better choice, because some people like it cold, and some like it hot. This pizza starts with whole-milk, organic ricotta cheese mixed with homemade basil pesto. It’s topped with a touch of red onions and lots of zucchini and yellow squash slices. Grated Parmesan cheese is the finishing touch for a slight salty bite.
If wondering how to slow down the raising time of homemade dough without sacrificing a good night’s rest, place it in a refrigerator the night before for at least eight hours (cover a bowl with plastic or a damp towel). Then reserve extra time in your morning routine to quickly assemble, bake, and slice the pizza. For packing, layer the slices between parchment paper (or wrap in foil) and place in a sealed container.
The pizza arrived at the office lukewarm. My co-workers didn’t care for the temperature of the pizza, because it was devoured in a quick minute. Naturally, delicious pastries were part of the menu. Especially when an intern made Rye Crumble Bars with Jam, a recipe adapted from Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours by Quentin Bacon, and another intern brought a salad bar. The office brunch potluck was a healthy success, thanks to a few extra foodies in the office. Feeling productive and alert from drinking French-Press coffee, we continued working (and munching) throughout the afternoon without a sugar-high burn out.
What’s your favorite dish to share at a pot luck?
Basil Pesto Zucchini Pizza
Note: Enjoy this pizza anytime of the day.
- Olive oil; as needed
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper; as needed
- Crushed red pepper; optional and as needed
- 1 recipe for pizza dough found here or store brought
- 2/3-cup fresh basil pesto (homemade version found here [http://blog.sanuraweathers.com/2009/11/veggie-chicken-soup/]) or store brought
- 2/3-cup organic, whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 small red onion; thinly sliced
- 2 or 3 zucchini or yellow squash thinly sliced (If possible, use a mandoline)
- Grated parmesan cheese; as needed
- Garnish: Fresh basil leaves
- Preheat oven to the highest temperature.
- With either the store-brought or the basic dough recipe (see recipe here), knead it lightly and form into a ball on a clean and floured surface. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little flour and place a damp towel or a plastic wrap over it. Let it lightly expand for about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk basil pesto, ricotta cheese, sea salt and fresh black pepper together. Set aside.
- Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Set aside.
- Shape pizza dough into a rustic circle or rectangle within the boundaries of the baking sheet. If dough is initially resistant, let it rest for a few minutes and continue to shape it.
- Gently spread the basil pesto-ricotta cheese over the dough about one inch away from the edge. Lightly sprinkle with crushed red pepper, sea salt and black pepper. Top with sliced red onions. Layer zucchini slices over the onions. Add parmesan cheese. Very lightly drizzle with olive oil. Finish with sea salt and fresh black pepper.
- Place pizza in the oven. Oven times varies, but cook about 15 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown.
- Remove from oven. Serve slices with fresh basil leaves.