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Vote for me in the Cook of the Week Challenge Fan Favorite to learn more about the cook of the week challenge follow the Food section of the Daily Herald online at: http://www.dailyherald.com/lifestyle/food/cookchallenge/ or in the paper on Wednesdays. My first face-off is Sept. 8. I need your help to make this the (winning) recipe so vote early and often;-)
Tara’s BLT Pizza (makes one 14” pizza serves 3-4)
Preheat oven 450 degrees (set oven rack to high position).
One bag store bought pizza dough at room temperature (I used Caputo’s)
½ cup flour for rolling dough
2 tablespoons olive oil divided
2-3 firm heirloom or Roma tomatoes, sliced thin (1/8 inch)
1 medium firm yellow or orange tomato or other firm variety, sliced very thin (1/8 inch)
½ bunch green onions finely chopped (5-6 stalks)
6 oz. bacon cooked and chopped (6 slices)
6 oz. Fontina cheese grated (about ¾ cup)
Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
1 cup finely chopped arugula or fresh spinach
¼ cup shaved Parmesan
Preheat the oven. Lightly grease a 14” pizza pan or pizza stone with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil, remove excess w/ paper towel. Flour your hands and a pastry board. Use your hands to work the dough gently; shape into a ball, flour all sides of the dough, flatten the ball. Use a rolling pin and additional flour, to roll the dough from the center outward to create an even circle ¼-1/2 inch thick and 2 inches larger than your pizza pan. Sprinkle on additional flour, turn the dough over, adding flour on both sides of dough to prevent sticking, as you roll. Toss dough in the air and say a prayer. Just kidding, that’s is advanced ;-). Once the dough is shaped place it on the pan (or pizza stone) and form a crust by rolling and pinching the free-edge into the pie, press to form an edge or “crust”. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top of the entire dough. Use your hands to spread the oil to coat evenly over the entire top of the pizza including the “crust”.
Distribute Fontina cheese, bacon and green onion over the pizza (avoid the crust) and reserve a pinch of Fontina. Grind black pepper over pizza. Carefully arrange the sliced tomatoes in rings around the pizza do not overlap tomato slices and leave the center uncovered (no tomato in center) sprinkle the pinch of Fontina on top of tomatoes. Bake for 10 minutes on the top rack, remember say a prayer for someone you love when you put it in the oven.
Remove from oven. Quickly place chopped arugula in center (it will cover some tomatoes). Return to oven bake 5-8 minutes until edges are golden brown and cheese is bubbly remove from oven and immediately sprinkle shaved Parmesan cheese over the pizza. Let pizza set for 5 minutes before slicing into wedges. Serve warm. Enjoy!
Note: On a hot day, cook this pizza on the grill with a pizza stone. Cooking time may vary, a hot oven and short cook time is best.
I cook because I enjoy it. As a Realtor, I spend most of my time working with home sellers, negotiating contracts and helping home buyers in Northwest suburbs. When I’m done with work cooking for friends and family relaxes me. Here is what I sent to the judges with my recipe regarding my first mystery basket:
Summer cooking should be easy, abundant with fresh ingredients, leaving more time to be outdoors and less time in the kitchen. My first ingredient bag includes a classic combo, bacon, lettuce and tomato.
The vibrant colors of the tomatoes in my bag, yellow, orange, red a perfect summer pallet made me happy. I decided to feature the tomato, an icon of summer.
What could I include from my garden; lettuce, kale, chard…does basil go…with bacon?
I wanted my first recipe to be something that is easy to prepare and that people would love to eat. I chose one of my favorite foods, pizza.
I learned to cook from my Italian grandma she made great pizza with homemade dough, sauce, even the sausage was homemade. Most of all she cooked with love, of the materials she worked with and for the people who would enjoy the results. Over time I’ve kept my grandma’s loving intentions in my food but I have altered some traditions. I’ve made it easier, by using store bought dough. I get creative with my use of seasonal toppings to make pizza that is simply delicious. In this version I used heirloom tomatoes and green onions from my garden (for sweetness) next to bacon, buttery fontina cheese and a mouthful of arugula. Remember to handle the dough lovingly so it “won’t be tough” and say a prayer for someone you love when you put it in the oven.