Pizza Inspiration from My Farmers’ Market

Farmers' Market Vegetable Pizza 1 1824x1368 1824x1368Every Saturday morning in the summer and fall, you’ll find me at my local farmers’ market. Although our market is small, what it lacks in size it makes up for in variety and quality. On a recent visit to our block-long food bazaar, I spotted “ratte’ potatoes (a French fingerling beloved by French chefs). Nearby a cheese vendor displayed wedges of tomme Normande (made in the style of celebrated French “tomme” cheeses). At a yogurt stand, the dairy farmer offered creamy pots of yogurt scented with New England maple syrup. I also found okra in hues of purple and green, a rainbow assortment of heirloom tomatoes, and most surprisingly, boxes of mild Japanese shishito peppers (slim, green peppers from 3 to 4 inches in length.) I can never resist the lure of such interesting fare, and fill my basket with purchases to try at home. The recipe for the delicious vegetable pizza featured here was inspired by one of these shopping forays.

A thin-crusted pizza round (purchased at Whole Foods) was spread with sautéed onions, and topped with shavings of a robust tomme de Savoie. Next, lightly pan-fried baby zucchini or yellow squash (either works equally well) are alternated with sliced plum tomatoes in a spoke pattern atop the onions. They are sprinkled with more cheese and sliced shishito peppers. Seasonings of oregano, red pepper flakes, and a hint of balsamic round out the flavors.

My husband, a devoted fan of pizzas topped with pepperoni and sausage, loved the vibrant tastes and colors of this fresh vegetable edition. Ditto for my friends who sampled it for lunch one day. If you have local markets and farm stands in your area, take advantage of them to try this pizza or to create one of your own!

Farmers’ Market Vegetable Pizza
1 tbsp dried oregano
Kosher salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil, divided plus extra if needed
5 plum tomatoes (about 1 pd)
12 oz baby yellow squash or baby zucchini
2 cups very thinly sliced onion (l large yellow onion)
5 shishito peppers (2 1/4 oz-see note), stemmed and sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch wide slices
One 12- to 13-inch pizza round (see note.)
A 5-oz wedge tomme de Savoie or a good white sharp cheddar, shaved or coarsely grated Freshly ground black pepper

1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Have ready a large baking sheet.

2. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, red pepper flakes, balsamic vinegar, and 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Whisk until well blended and set aside.

3. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and then cut into 1-inch wide wedges. Scoop out and discard the seeds and membranes. Set aside.

4. Trim and discard the ends from the squash. Halve them lengthwise. In a medium large, heavy skillet set over medium high heat, heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil until hot. Add the squash, cut sides down, to the skillet. Cook until golden on that side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook 1 minute more and then remove and drain on paper towels. Add the peppers to the skillet and stir until just starting to take on a little color, only 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.

5. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the skillet and if needed more olive oil. Stir and cook until softened and golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

6. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes, then remove, and place the pizza crust on the sheet.

7. To assemble the pizza, spread the onions over the pizza. Spread half of the cheese over the onions. Then, starting at the outside edge, alternate the squash and tomatoes in a spoke pattern, over the onions. (You may have some tomatoes and/or squash left over.) Season the vegetables with salt and black pepper. Drizzle the oregano mixture over the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Scatter the peppers over the pizza.

8. Bake the pizza until crust is very crisp and vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and cut into 6 slices. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Shishito peppers are available in some farmers’ markets and in Japanese food stores. I found them at my local Whole Foods recently. Although I have only used shishito peppers for this pizza, some internet sleuthing provided the following suggestions. You can substitute Italian frying peppers or Padron peppers. The Italian peppers are mild, but the Padron, although mostly mild, are sometimes hot so care must be taken when using them.

Top This PIzza Crust 1 1824x1368Note: For this recipe a 12- to 13-in pizza crust works well. I prefer the thin ones like this one from Whole Foods. If you use a thicker crust, count on a few extra minutes in the oven. (Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2014)

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