Friday, September 14, 2007

Zucchini Blossom and Taleggio Pizza

Summer is winding down and that means saying goodbye to, amongst other things, my pseudo-garden. My zucchini plant hasn’t given me any flowers in the past week, and I think that zucchini blossoms will shortly be gone from stands at the market.

I came up with this recipe one afternoon a few weeks ago when I was trying to figure out what to do with all the blossoms my zucchini plant was sending my way. I had already stuffed and fried some of them, but I didn’t know what to do with the rest. I had seen recipes for fritattas and tacos, but none of them appealed to me or seemed as if the blossoms would even be discernible amongst all the other bold flavors in the recipe.

I have also recently become obsessed with making pizza after my recent purchases of a pizza stone (at the Ohio State Fair, of all places) and a peel, which I learned is essential when you bake pizza on a stone – try pulling a pizza out of an oven that is 500° F and a stone that is even hotter with just a spatula and you will be met with disaster and possibly burns. The stone makes for an incredibly crisp crust, but you could just as well cook your pizza on a baking sheet.
Back to my point…I wanted my blossoms to shine in whatever I put them in – after all, I did raise them, so, naturally, I wanted only the best for them. Given my obsession with pizza, I decided to put my blossoms on one. I didn’t want them to drown in sauce and, as for the cheese, I thought something creamy, buttery, and slightly fruity would complement them well; taleggio was the first thing that came to mind. Fresh mozzarella would also work, but the taleggio definitely makes this pizza special. I contemplated adding fresh basil but decided against it because I didn’t want the blossoms to have too much competition. (Aside: you'll see in the photos that I made a tiny pizza (sans basil) because I only had two blossoms that day.)

So, pick up some blossoms from the market, make some pizza dough (or buy some from the local pizzeria if you must), grab a beer (because who drinks wine with pizza?), and say goodbye to summer and its glorious harvest with this delicate pizza.

Zucchini and Taleggio Pizza
(makes one 9-inch pizza)

2 small or 1 medium yellow zucchini
1 small garlic clove
Pinch of salt
½ recipe pizza dough
8 zucchini blossoms, washed, pistils removed, and split down one side
2 ounces
taleggio cheese, cut into pieces about ¼” thick
4 basil leaves, cut into
chiffonade (optional – I didn’t use them, but basil does go well with blossoms)

Place a rack in the lowest position in the oven. Place a pizza stone on it and heat the oven to 500° F. (If you don’t have a stone, you can place a rack in the middle of the oven and set the temperature to 450° F.)

Grate the zucchini using the large holes of a box grater. Transfer the grated zucchini to the bowl of a food processor. Add the garlic and salt and process until a thick, smooth puree forms. Pour the puree into a sieve set over a bowl and let drain for 10 minutes. [Notes: Draining the puree in a sieve will remove some of the water from the puree and give it thicker, more sauce-like consistency. Also, the puree does not have a lot of salt in it because taleggio cheese is very salty.)

Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out the pizza dough to an approximately 9” round. Place the dough onto a peel that has been dusted with cornmeal (or onto a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal).
* At this point, I like to bake the crust for a few minutes before adding the toppings – I find that it makes for a really crisp crust. However, it’s not at all necessary; in fact, I didn’t do that when I made this pizza and it came out great.

Spoon the zucchini puree onto the dough, leaving about a ½” border. Arrange the opened blossoms around the pizza, overlapping them as you go (put two in the center and the remaining 6 in a ring around those two). Evenly top with the cheese (and basil, if using).

Bake about 8 minutes at 500° F or 10-12 minutes at 450° F, until the edges of the crust are lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit 2 minutes before slicing and serving.

1 comment:

John said...

YUMMMMMMMMM! Yep, that's all I had to say. All I really needed to. :)

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