My friend Gail summoned me over last night to help consume her never-ending garden harvest. I’m so jealous of her bounty: lemon cucumbers, squash, eggplant, swiss chard, kale, sweet peppers, onion, tomatillos, endless herbs, and six different kinds of tomatoes – it’s like a farmers market in her backyard! And since there is no way Gail and her husband can eat through the garden by themselves, I am always more than happy to accept invitations to help them (and to be sent home with any extra produce she cares to offer).
The past couple of times I have been over Gail’s house we made pizza. It’s one of my favorite things to make as a home cook because while you need to have a good comprehension of flavors and textural components, there is a ton of opportunity to experiment. And last night we did just that! We made two pizzas: one with pesto, squash, pancetta and chard (so earthy and delicious), and one with our version of Caponata and fresh ricotta – my new favorite pizza combo!
Caponata Pizza (serves 2)
- 1 TB olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 1 cup diced red and yellow sweet peppers
- 2 small eggplants, diced
- 10 Sicilian green olives
- 2 TB capers (optional)
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine
- salt and pepper
- 1 plain pizza dough, rolled out
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
- 2 TB grated Parmesan, divided
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh ricotta
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
Start by making the Caponota. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the onion and continue to sauté for 2 minutes, then add peppers and eggplant and sauté over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add olives and capers and continue to sauté for another 10 minutes. Increase heat back to medium and add white wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once most of the wine has evaporated, lower heat and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so. You want the texture to be soft but not mushy – you should be able to see each individual ingredient.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 and place a pizza stone or baking tray inside the oven. Top the pizza dough with tomato sauce, mozzarella and 1 TB of Parmesan. Evenly spread the Caponata over the pizza, then top with tomato slices, dollops of ricotta and remaining TB of Parmesan. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until crust is browned and cheese is bubbling. Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil. Slice into 6 pieces and serve!
We were battling some hot weather (and a hot kitchen) so we stuck to a dry Rosé and some Napa Sauvignon Blanc – both of which worked great. A light wine with a good amount of acidity would be best, so you could also pair this pizza with an Aglianico or a Sicilian Nero d’Avola. I think a Rosé of Sangiovese would have been perfect! I’ll have to remember that for next time.