Pizza with Proscuitto and Arugula

Pizza, Proscuitto, Arugula

 

 

Who doesn’t like Pizza? My favorite is Napolitano style Pizza with Proscuitto and Arugula. Living in New York City, pizza is available practically on every corner.  Some of the best pizza in the world can be found here, but my favorite style is Napolitano. Even though New York pizza is so good, I sometimes prefer to make my own.  This way I can control the quality of the ingredients, and the result is a lighter, healthier pizza.

I tried for years to make my own pizza, but I was never satisfied with the pizza dough.  It was never quite right, until my friend, Roberta, gave me her recipe.  It is easy to make, and it comes out perfect every time for me.

Give it a try! Be creative–use any toppings you prefer.

Ingredients for pizza dough:
4 – cups all purpose flour
4 – tbls. olive oil
3 – tbls. sugar
1 1/4 -cups water
1 – envelope of dry yeast*
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Toppings:
Marinara Sauce
1/2- lb. Proscuitto (thinly sliced)
1 – lb. fresh mozzarella
3 – tbls. Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)

*I use an Italian brand of yeast called Livieto di Birra, by Paneangeli. This is the secret to my success with pizza dough. If you can’t find the yeast, however, you can substitute any brand you prefer.

Directions:
In a large bowl, add 4 cups of flour, and make a well in the center. Add the package of yeast, sugar, salt, olive oil, and 1 cup of water.

Mix with a fork to incorporate the ingredients and add the rest of the water if needed to bring the flour together. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and soft about 4 minutes.

Rub a little oil in the same bowl and place the ball of dough in the center. Top with a drizzle of oil on top of the dough to prevent it from getting hard.

Cover with a towel and set in a warm area to rise for two hours.

After about 2 hours, the dough should at least double in size, then you are ready to make the pizza.

Doubled in size

Time to Assemble the Pizza:

Place a ceramic pizza stone in the oven and preheat it to 500° (Use the Convection setting if you have it).

Divide the dough into three equal portions.  Spread a little flour on a board or countertop, and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 12″-14″ roundshape.

Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper.  Spread a little marinara sauce, sprinkle with a little pecorino romano cheese (optional), and place small pieces of fresh mozzarella all over the surface.

Using a pizza paddle, slide it under the parchment paper and place it  in the preheated oven on top of the pizza stone.  Cook until the crush starts to brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Do not leave the pizza unattended.  It cooks quickly.  It takes about 4-6 minutes depending on your oven.  Using the pizza paddle, lift the edge of the pizza to check the bottom.  It should be browned lightly.

Napolitano Pizza, Mozzarella

Remove the pizza and place it on a cutting board.  Place thin slices of prosciutto over the pizza and top off with arugula.  It’s ready to serve!

Buon appetito!

Pizza, Napolitano, Proscuitto, Arugula

 




Farro Vegetable Casserole

Farro, Cheese, zucchini, cannellini beans

You may have noticed by now that I like Farro. I am always trying to come up with new ways to serve it. My family likes casserole dishes because they are all-in-one meals, and easy to eat.  So I decided to create a casserole using Farro as the star.

This farro vegetable casserole is packed with flavor. It has everything that you could want.  The nutty flavor of the farro, combined with the vegetables, cannellini beans, and melted mozzarella cheese will delight your taste buds. It is truly a comfort food without all the guilt.

Ingredients:
1  1/2 – cups farro
1 – red bell pepper
10 -oz. white mushrooms
3 – cups diced zucchini
1 – can cannellini beans
1 – medium onion
2 – cloves garlic
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. Herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/3 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 – tsp. black pepper
1/2 – cup pecorino romano
2 – cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 – cup chicken broth

Directions:
Cook the farro according to package directions, but do not over cook (be sure to add salt to the water). When the farro is ready, drain and place it in a medium sized baking dish, and add a little olive oil and the chicken broth so it does not stick together.

While the farro is cooking, dice the red bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini and onion, and peel the garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook on a medium-low flame about 2 minutes until the garlic starts to brown. Now add the diced vegetables and season with the salt, black pepper, oregano, Herbs de Provence and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

When the vegetables are ready it is time to assemble the casserole. Add to the farro in the baking dish the pecorino romano cheese and 3/4 cup of grated mozzarella cheese, and mix well. Next, add the cannellini beans (drain first) and sautéd vegetables. Stir to distribute the vegetables evenly.

Top off the casserole with the remaining grated mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 375° for 30 minutes, until the cheese starts to become golden brown.

Serves 6

Buon appetito!




Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad, Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Basil

Caprese Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Caprese salad is made with only four main ingredients, so it is important that you use the best ingredients possible.  I like to use mozzarella di bufala (mozzarella made with buffalo milk). You can find an imported Italian brand in most warehouse clubs. Otherwise buy the best fresh mozzarella you can find from an Italian cheese store. I have been craving this salad since my recent trip to Italy. I went with my sister, niece and cousins. We had a great trip, but the one thing that my niece, Jasmine, had to have every day was Insalata Caprese. We visited Capri where this salad originates. The tomatoes were at their peak, and the mozzarella di bufala was the best we ever had. So, with this traditional Caprese recipe, I am reliving my trip to Italy.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. ripe Campari or vine ripened tomatoes
10 – oz. mozzarella di bufala
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 – fresh basil leaves
1/4 – tsp. dried oregano
Salt

Directions:
Slice tomatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices. Arrange them on a plate in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and oregano, then drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the tomatoes.

Campari tomatoes

Slice the mozzarella in 1/4 inch thick slices, and arrange them on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little salt and a pinch of oregano. Taste the mozzarella before you add salt to determine how much is needed. Drizzle a little olive oil over the cheese and top with pieces of basil. Tear the basil with your hands; do not cut it with a knife.

Tomatoes, mozzarella, basil

Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!
Caprese, Salad, Tomatoes, Mozzarella




Grilled Zucchine and Tomato with Mozzarella and Basil

Zucchini and tomatoes are two of my favorite things, and summer time is when they are at their best. This is a light meal that is perfect for a hot summer day. It is healthy, delicious and easy to make. It can be used as a main dish, appetizer or side dish.

Ingredients:
2 – large zucchini
2 – ripe tomatoes
1 – ball of fresh mozzarella
10 – basil leaves
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Herbs de Provence
Garlic Powder
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:
Slice the ends off the zucchini then slice it in half across the middle.


Cut a thin slice of the skin from two sides of the zucchini length wise. Then cut thick long slices, about 1/4″ in thickness. Next cut thick round tomato slices.

Lay out the zucchini and tomatoes and drizzle a little olive oil over each of them. Then sprinkle each slice with a little salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Herbs de Provence to taste.

In the meantime, heat the stove top grill and coat it with non-stick cooking spray. When the grill is hot, place each slice of the zucchini and tomatoes on the grill, seasoned side down. While the vegetables are cooking, drizzle the other side with a little olive oil and the seasonings.

Cook the tomato slices about 3 minutes on a medium-high flame before turning over. Do not over cook them or they will fall apart. The zucchini will take longer, about 4-5 minutes, until tender. When ready turn them over and cook the other side in the same manner.

Since the tomatoes cook sooner, you can place them on top of the cooked side of the zucchini to prevent them from over cooking, while the zucchini finishes cooking.

When the zucchini is almost done, place a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each stack of zucchine and tomato, then place a lid on top to melt the cheese.

Remove each stack from the grill and place a basil leave on top of each one.

Serve immediately

Note:  A little drizzle of a balsamic reduction works very well with this.