Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Benefits of Friends

Jenn and Marion Pepperoni Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes and Smoked Mozzarella
Sometimes I dream of having my own charming little garden with ripe red tomatoes, fragrant garlic, and fresh savory herbs . . . but, alas, I haven't yet had the opportunity to prove my green thumb. With my recent move and a newly acquired backyard space, I have decided to try my hand at cultivating my own veggies. Although it's a bit too late for this year, I am lucky enough to have friends who have generously offered up a share of their harvest. On my recent trip to Seattle, Jennifer sent me home with a perfect pint of jewel-bright cherry tomatoes and just this afternoon, Marion gave me a whole box of tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, and baggies of herbs! For my first garden-fresh recipe, I decided to make use of those lovely tomatoes and some fresh basil. This pizza is extremely flavorful and easy to make. Try it tonight! (Thanks Jenn and Marion for sharing your beautiful fresh produce!)

- 1 lb. fresh refrigerated pizza dough, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before working
- 1 lb. cherry tomatoes, stems removed, rinsed and sliced in half
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 head of garlic, top sliced off
- salt and pepper
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 8 oz. smoked mozzarella cheese
- 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into small bite-sized pieces
- 2 oz. sliced pepperoni
- 2 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, minced
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves, sliced into think strips

Preheat the oven to 450˚ F. Place the garlic on a small piece of foil, drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and wrap tightly in the foil. Place the garlic on the middle rack of the oven and roast for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, begin to prepare the slice the tomatoes. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil, and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Place baking sheet in oven after garlic has roasted for 20 minutes and put foil-wrapped garlic on the baking sheet with tomatoes. Roast tomatoes and garlic together for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for several minutes before handling. Keep the oven heated to 450˚F.

After the tomatoes and garlic has cooled slightly, pour the tomatoes into a small bowl and add the cloves of roasted garlic by squeezing them from the head. Mash up the tomatoes and garlic pieces with the back side of a large spoon and stir mixture together thoroughly. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Set aside and begin to work the dough and prepare the pizza toppings.

Turn out the pizza dough on a floured surface and knead lightly. Roll out into a thin 18" circle and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Top with an even coating of the tomato and garlic sauce.

Grate the smoked mozzarella and place in a medium bowl with the fresh mozzarella and fresh herbs. Toss lightly to combine ingredients then top the tomato mixture with an even layer of the cheese mixture. Arrange pepperoni slices on top on the cheese and brush the crust of the pizza with a thin coat of olive oil. Bake pizza in 450˚F oven for 20-25 minutes until the crust begins to turn brown and crisp and the cheese is golden and bubbly. Cut into wedges and eat! The perfect meal to share with friends!

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