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Mediterranean Pizza

from L.A.'s Original Farmers Market Cookbook by JoAnn Cianciulli
Mediterranean Pizza Recipe

Herb Crust:
1/2 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
16 whole fennel seeds (about 1/ teaspoon)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups loosely packed spinach leaves, tough stems removed
Pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup pizza sauce
4 ounces goat cheese
4 water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and cut into eighths
2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and diced
6 pitted kalamata olives, sliced
8 fresh basil leaves, torn by hand into small pieces

Makes 1 large (14-inch) pizza or 2 individual (8-inch) pizzas; serves 2 to 4

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in L.A.'s Original Farmers Market Cookbook
from Chronicle Books


Simply saying the word "Mediterranean" conjures a wealth of tasty possibilities for pizza. The palette of ingredients is as colorful and rich in variety as the countries that make up the region itself. Dean created a wonderfully thin, fennel-scented crust that's crisp at the edges and bursts with dynamic flavors. If you haven't tried making your own pizza yet, or find it daunting, let this one be your entry to the simple art. Loaded with vegetables, it remains one of the most popular choices for folks who crave pizza but are watching their waistline.

To make the herb crust: In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.

In a bowl, mix together the 2 cups flour, the salt, granulated garlic, Italian seasoning, and fennel seeds. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture and 1 tablespoon oil. Stir with a rubber spatula, incorporating more and more flour to form a soft, sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and fold it over itself a few times. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Dust with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Gather the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, and turn it over to coat. Cover and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (For advance preparation, cover the dough and let rise in the refrigerator for several hours or up to overnight.) The chilled dough will stretch more easily.

Preheat the oven to 500°F. If using a pizza stone, place it on the rack and preheat with the oven.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll or pat the dough out into a large circle, about 16 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick, leaving the edges slightly thicker. (If making 2 individual pizzas, divide the dough in half and shape two 8-inch circles in the same way.) Put the pizza(s) on an oiled baking pan, or use a pizza stone.

To make the topping: In a pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic, spinach, and kosher salt. Stir to combine, and cook until the spinach is wilted and cooked down, about 5 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and chop coarsely. Let cool.

Ladle the sauce on the dough, spreading it all the way to the edges. Roll up the edges, crimping to enclose a bit of the sauce in the crust. Break up the goat cheese into pieces and drop them evenly around the pizza(s). Scatter the spinach over the cheese and decoratively arrange the artichokes, tomatoes, and olives on top.

If using a pizza stone, dust a pizza paddle with flour and slide it under the assembled pizza(s) and onto the hot stone.

Bake until the crust is golden and crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Shower the basil on top, cut into wedges, and serve.

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