Seasons’ Eatings: Carrot Pizza
By Sarah A. Maine
Sunnyside, NY – A great pizza is like a beautiful wedding – done right, the work is invisible, the elements all fit together with no awkward pauses. Lucky for everyone, making great pizza is considerably easier, and less expensive, than planning and executing a wedding. Until about a month ago, I had zero experience making pizza – eating and judging it – that’s another matter. Five years living in Italy, while I was a teenager no less (prime pizza eating time), certified me as a pizza expert. Or at least that’s what I thought. One afternoon with Mark, Jenny and Mike at the Pizza a Casa Pizza School (yep, you heard me) made me realize how little I really knew. Pizza a Casa (which means ‘pizza at home’ in Italian) is a tiny wonderland of learning, playing, and eating where Mark Bello dispenses encyclopedic pizza knowledge. He is a veritable pizzapedia! By the end of the class both your belly and your mind are full, and you have a few balls of pizza dough to take home and freeze for later use.
I was nervous to make my first pizza back at home. I waited a couple of weeks, checking on my frozen dough stash every few days. Finally, an industrious weekend of roasting CSA bounty, spurred me to attempt my first at home pizza – half way through preparations I realized I had forgotten to get tomato sauce! Instead I pressed a batch of roasted carrots into service. The pizza was tasty but the carrot sauce needed work – it was too thick and lacked a certain tang. With Jessie’s Zucchini Patties I saw my chance for round two of carrot pizza. From her recipe I’m taking the carrots, ricotta cheese and, for the hint of acid that was missing from my first outing, peaches.
CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.
When I sat down to write this post I had every intention of including Pizza a Casa’s Perfect Pizza Dough recipe. Mark gave me the green light, so I was good to go. I busted out my trusty Pizza a Casa handout and I began to parse the information – lifting out the most ‘important’ parts. The further I got, the more I felt that I wasn’t doing anyone a favor by presenting a skeletal version of Mark’s process. So I haven’t included a dough recipe here, my advice is to find a good dough recipe and follow the instructions. If you are local to New York and are looking to take your pizza skills to the next level, then you need to check out Pizza a Casa. Buy tickets to a class and immerse yourself in all things pizza. I dragged a reluctant partner with me on my outing and he ended up having the time of his life. We learned a lot and had a ton of fun, we also ate an enormous amount of pizza (Mark makes a plethora of example pizzas before letting his students loose on their own pies).
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: about 1 hr
For the pizza
- 1/2 lb pizza dough (home made is best, it can be made ahead and frozen in 1/2 lb balls). If your dough is frozen, put it in the fridge the day before you plan to use it so that it can thaw evenly.
- flour for dusting
- 1/2 cup roasted carrot puree
- 1 clove fresh garlic
- 1/4 cup roasted onions (I roasted 1 medium onion, I only used about 1/4 of it for the pizza)
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/8 lb spicy pepperoni sliced thin, or cured meat of your choice (you can omit the meat for a vegetarian dish)
- A hard cheese for grating – like pecorino Romano. I used a cheese we sell at Saxelby Cheesemongers called Olga – it has the hard & salty characteristics that you want for this purpose.
- Fresh arugula
For the carrot purée (makes about 1 cup – enough for 4 pizzas)
- 5 medium sized carrots cut into sticks
- 1 ripe peach, peeled
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water – add as needed
- 3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Pre-heat the oven to bake at 350 F. Slice the carrots into sticks toss in olive oil and roast for 30-45 minutes, until soft and sweet. Quarter an onion and do the same. Roast them together but in separate pans.
- When the roasting is finished, remove the veggies and turn the oven up as far as it will go – most ovens go up to 500-550 F.
- Purée the carrots, adding slices of peeled peach to taste until you reach a balance of sweet and acid that you like. The peach will also add moisture to the sauce. Add 1 Tablespoon of red wine vinegar and water as needed to loosen up the purée. Grate the
- Dust flour on a clean counter top and place your dough in the center. Press it into a rough circle, leaving the center thicker than the edges. Press and spin the dough like a record, aiming for a roundish circle. Lift the dough and drape it over your fists, move it in circles, letting gravity stretch it out. Working the dough takes practice, lucky for us even a trapezoidal pizza tastes good!
- Place your dough on a pizza peel (if you are using a pizza stone) or onto a pizza screen or cookie sheet. This is important! It’s much easier to move your dough around before it has anything on it!
- Start adding your toppings – start with the ricotta cheese, spoon a few good sized globs around the dough. Next, onions – dot them around, nestling them into the cheese (to protect them from getting burned). Spoon the carrot purée in blobs, also touching the cheese and onions in some places. Then the pepperoni and finally a layer of cheese grated over everything – make sure to grate over the edge of the crust!
- Slide your pizza into the oven quickly (you want to keep that heat in the oven!). It only needs 8 minutes to bake. My oven bakes unevenly so I gave my pie a swift 180 degree turn at the midpoint.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and add any finishing touches – a drizzle of good olive oil, fresh herbs like basil or arugula.
- Slice and serve!