afterlight

I have been putting off this post for a while simply because I wasn’t sure HOW to start a post after months of radio silence.

I thought about updating everyone on what I’ve been up to, but if you’re reading this, you probably already know. But in case you don’t, or need a refresher (there WILL be a test later), here’s the digest version of the last year of my life:

Moved to Boston, worked as a social media intern, worked as a long-distance legal assistant, ate lots of lobster. Internship turned into a job, I  ate and sampled lots of free bacon, cake, casserole etc. Took lots of pictures of my cat alone in my apartment. Quit my job.  Moved to Brooklyn. Started looking for work. Moved to Harlem. Nested our new apartment. Fielded calls from mother about how I should start blogging again. Started running social media for Chattanooga’s only and best grilled cheese truck, The Muenster Truck. Took my busted-up too-nice-for-me camera to the camera store to get fixed. Got the estimate. Started looking into cashing in credit card points to pay for repairs. Decided not having the too-nice-for-me camera right now was not an excuse to not blog again. Made this pizza recipe and decided it was good enough that it WAS a reason to start blogging again.

Which bring us up to right now. And this ratatouille pizza. This recipe was inspired by my dear friend Kristen, whose blog post on ratatouille last summer inspired me to try making it myself. Of course, after a few times making it, I began to wonder: wouldn’t this taste better if I added cheese somehow? (this is a question I often ask myself about all foods). One of my favorite ways to eat leftover ratatouille has been to put it on a sandwich with some mozzarella, so really, the next step was to add some sauce and throw all the toppings on a pizza.

This recipe is fairly inexact and infinitely adaptable (for example, not being a huge bell pepper fan, I left then off the pizza even though ratatouille often includes them, but you can feel free to throw some in if you are of the bell pepper persuasion). What other adjustments would you make? Let me know in the comments!

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Ratatouille Pizza

  • Homemade or store-bought pizza dough (the recipe I typically use can be at the bottom of this post), enough to make a roughly rectangular 9×13 in pizza
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  •  Olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon diced fresh basil
  • 1/2 a large eggplant, cut lengthwise, then cut in half again, or one small eggplant
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium summer squash
  • 6 oz whole milk mozzarella, shredded

 

1. To make the tomato sauce: If you have an immersion blender, blend the diced tomatoes (this makes a much more textured pizza sauce than just buying a can of tomato sauce). If you don’t have a blender, you can just crust up the diced tomatoes while the sauce cooks, yielding a slightly chunkier sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 3 cloves crushed garlic in a medium-sized sauce pan till fragrant, add tomato sauce, dash of red peppers, and 1 tsp dried oregano. Bring to a simmer and cook on low heat till thickened, stirring occassionally and crushing the diced tomatoes of necessarily. Once the spatula leaves a path in the pan when you drag it across the pan, your sauce is ready. Remove from heat  and stir in 1 tsp fresh basil. Set aside.

2. Prep the vegetables: Preheat the oven to 350. While the sauce is cooking, slice the quartered eggplant into thin, short slices. Place in a large colander and toss with kosher salt (this draws out some of the water and keeps it from getting bitter when cooked). While the eggplant sits, use a potato peeler or a mandolin slicer to peel the zucchini and squash into long ribbons. Squeeze the eggplant with paper towels to drain the water. Place the vegetables onto a cookie sheet, coating generously with olive oil. Place in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until just a few of the veggies start to brown, tossing vegetables 1/2 way through the cooking process to prevent sticking. Once you have taken out the veggies, immediately turn oven up to 500 degrees.

3. Make the pizza: Stretch out the dough onto a 9x13in cookie sheet. Spread out the sauce using a spatula or back of a spoon, leaving 1/2 an inch on the sides. Cover  evenly with vegetables then top off with the shredded mozzarella. Bake for 8-1o minutes, or until cheese begins to brown and crust turns a beautiful golden brown color. Remove from heat, add remaining 1 tsp diced basil and let sit for 3 minutes before slicing up and serving.

Notes: If you’re using store-bought pizza dough, I’ve had great luck with Whole Foods’ pre-made dough before. Don’t buy anything out of a tube ala Pillsbury, or already baked. Just please go ahead and follow my absurdly simple instructions for making your own sauce, and don’t buy jarred pizza sauce. It’s never as good, plus, admit it, you always let that last little bit mold in the fridge rather than use it up.

 

Pizza Dough
Adapted from Deb Perlemen’s Rushed Pizza Dough recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, (a similar version can be found on her blog here.) 

A quick note: I’ve used several different pizza dough recipes over the years, some that take days, some that take under an hour. This recipe is nice because it can be whipped up in a pinch with very little planning needed ahead of time. However, one of the tricks for getting the dough to rise involves using a warm oven, which means I did step 1 (make the sauce) of the recipe while the the dough rose, then had to wait to take the dough out to roast the veggies. More leisurely pizza dough recipes rise at room temp, or even in the fridge, which would definitely streamline the cooking process and free up your oven.

  • 1 c warm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast (approx 1 pouch)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Olive oil, for coating bowl

1. Turn oven on to warm for five minutes then turn off.

2. Pour the warm water into a large metal bowl or the bowel of your electric mixer and sprinkle yeast over the water. Let sit for just 5 minutes. Add flour and salt. If using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed until a craggy mass forms, then reduce to  a low speed for five minutes, or unitl the dough is glossy and smooth. If you don’t have an electric mixer, mix with a wooden spoon until a craggy mass forms, then turn onto a floured surface and knead by had for 5 minutes.

2. Wipe out the insides of the mixing bowl and coat with olive oil. Place dough in the bowl, turning the dough once to give the dough a light coating of oil as well.  Cover the bowl tightly with saran wrap and place in the warm oven for about 30 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size. Remove dough from oven and proceed from there according to the recipe.