The only excuse I will give for my inexcusable five-month hiatus from the Sprout Diaries is two small words: grad student. It’s a busy lifestyle, folks — one that I’m enjoying immensely but one that leaves little time (or brain power) for the finer things in life, like taking extra long to cook a meal and blogging about it. But change is a-comin’! Spring has long since sprung here in Bloomington, Indiana, and summer is hot on its heels, which means there are lazy days ahead and oh so much beautiful summer produce to photograph and devour. Plus, I’ve recently become the embarrassingly proud owner of a cast iron skillet (and this weekend I splurged on a beautiful cookbook), so brace yourself for a whole lotta skillet recipes, starting with this excellent Mediterranean ‘za.
The beauty of making pizza in a skillet is its ability to transition seamlessly from stove top to oven, meaning you can get the bottom of the crust as crunchy-golden as you like (nothing is worse than soggy pizza). I decided to be bold and make the dough from scratch, which turned out to be surprisingly easy (and the miracle of dough rising never ceases to delight). This particular breed of ‘za uses a simple garlic-infused oil as its base then packs on the flavor with two types of cheese and plenty of brine-y goodness (I’m lookin’ at you, artichokes and olives) plus some old favorites like tomatoes and spinach. If you’re pressed for time, store-bought pizza dough will do just fine, but if you’re feeling adventurous, check out the dough recipe at the end of this post.
mediterranean skillet pizza
adapted from Half-Baked Harvest
1/2 pound pizza dough (see recipe below)
scant 1/4 cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
juice from half a lemon
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt & pepper
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
a handful of baby spinach
5 ounces marinated artichoke hearts
a handful of grape tomatoes, halved
a handful of kalamata olives, halved and pitted
a few crumbles of feta
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet. Add garlic and cook until just beginning to brown (don’t let those babies burn!). Remove from heat and add fresh lemon juice, basil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
(Note: if you’re using the pizza dough recipe below, you will only need half of it to make this one pizza.) Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface until it forms a thin circle, about 10 inches in diameter. Wipe the skillet clean, grease with a tablespoon or so of oil, and press dough into skillet, making sure it completely fills the space.
And now: assemble! First brush the dough with the garlic-infused oil (I used a little more than half of what was made). Then layer the mozzarella slices, spinach, artichokes, tomatoes, and olives, and finish up with a crumble or two of feta.
Set skillet over medium-high heat and cook until the edges of the pizza dough start to puff up slightly, 4-5 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheeses are sufficiently melted, 8-10 minutes.
Let cool, slice into wedges and serve. And don’t forget to pair it with a cold beer, if that’s your thing. Cheers!
classic pizza dough
adapted from Cook It In Cast Iron
2 cups bread flour
1 1/8 teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
makes 1 pound
Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add oil and warm water.
Stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy ball forms.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball.
Wipe clean and grease the large bowl from before, and place dough inside. Cover tightly with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour and a half.
If you’re not quite ready to make your ‘za, you can punch down the dough (so satisfying!), wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.