Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pesto Focaccia with Tomatoes and Artichokes

I'm starting to understand the appeal of backyard gardening.  When you're successful, it's fun.  I'm just used to everything dying on me before I get to that point.  The asparagus probably won't survive to its first production year, unless I get a surprise like the artichokes.

The first tomato
The first cherry tomato started to ripen on Memorial Day.  In a week, I had enough to make something. This pizza was first on my list of what I wanted to use them on.  It just sounded really good.  (The difference between a pizza and focaccia is generally how evenly you stretch the dough.)  I haven't made a batch of the pesto in over a year, and I still have dried basil.  This isn't exactly what Shauna suggested in her comment, which sounds like a really good pizza.  I considered the goat cheese, but was afraid it might overpower the tomatoes.

You can do this with a store-bought pizza crust.  I was making this on one of my baking days at work, so it never occurred to me not to make my own crust.  I also wanted to try a buckwheat dough.  Buckwheat does not contain gluten, which totally goes against the general theory of pizza-making.  You use a high-gluten bread flour for pizza dough as a rule.

This is a dish that my chef at culinary school would have hated because it looks like you're just throwing money at it to be impressive.  I got nearly everything out of the back yard and pantry, and all I had to buy was the cheese and pine nuts.  Total, about $3.  If you include the original costs of the store-bought ingredients, it was probably closer to $8.  Hardly budget-breaking.  We're not including the three growing seasons invested in the artichokes.  That was my own fault for not reading up before planting.

1/2 C warm water
1 tsp yeast
1 Tb honey
1/2 C buckwheat flour
about 1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
olive oil for coating bowl
cornmeal for dusting baking sheet

1.  Stir together water, yeast, and honey.  Let sit until slightly foamy, about 5 minutes.

2.  In stand mixer with the paddle, beat together water mixture and buckwheat flour into a batter, about 2 minutes.  Add 1/2 C flour and the salt and beat again to a thick batter/ soft dough.

3.  Pour out dough onto a generously floured kneading surface.  Knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.  Because of the honey, it will stay slightly sticky.  Pour a few drops of oil in a bowl.  Turn dough in bowl to coat all sides and place in a warm location to rise for 1 hour.

4.  Punch down dough and allow to rest 10 minutes.  Scatter cornmeal thickly on a baking sheet.  Press and pull dough into desired shape and place on baking sheet.  Dough should be no more than 1/4" thick.  Allow to rise 30 minutes before topping.

2 Tb dried basil pesto
4 oz sliced mozzarella
1/4 lb cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 Tb pine nuts
1/2 C marinated artichokes, cut into bite-size pieces

1.  Preheat oven to 400º.

2.  Thinly spread pesto on crust, leaving edges clean if desired.  Evenly distribute cheese, tomatoes, pine nuts, and artichoke pieces.  Bake until cheese is melted and turning golden, about 15-20 minutes.

Serves 2

Difficulty rating :)

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