We’re fairly openminded diners, the three of us, but each of us has a small list of foods we’re not overjoyed to eat. I’m not a big fan of ground beef or sweet-and-sour anything; Luke avoids onions, mayonnaise, and all seafood except for calamari; Tom has an aversion to mushrooms and olives.
When one of us is gone, the others use that opportunity to eat the foods the absent family member dislikes. So, with Tom spending the evening in Madison, Luke and I went for pizza with olives and spinach. Tom loves both pizza and spinach — but separately.
Confession time: I used pizza dough from a can. My right hand’s still out of commission, so kneading is out of the question for several more weeks. It turns out I tore the ligaments that attach the thumb to the base of the hand, so we’re looking at six to eight weeks of recovery. I am keenly aware of the lack of a stand mixer.
Ricotta swirled with pesto (I used chive-pistachio) is a creamy, herbalicious stand-in for tomato sauce. Calamata olives bring briny saltiness; spinach, a mellow earthiness and a boatload of nutrition. The strips of prosciutto on the top layer crisp up in the hot oven, and crackle when you take a bite.
The whole thing goes together quickly. You can certainly use frozen spinach in place of the fresh; thaw it and squeeze it dry. No prosciutto on-hand? Use a good-quality salty ham instead.
The cornmeal serves two purposes: it keeps the dough from sticking to the pan (or the parchment), and it makes the crust extra-crunchy. It’s not necessary, but do give it a try.
Spinach, Prosciutto, and Olive Pizza
3 tbs. cornmeal, optional
1 lb. (about) pizza dough
1 shallot, minced (or 1 tbs. minced onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. aleppo pepper flakes, or 1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 tbs. olive oil
10 oz. fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup ricotta (storebought or homemade)
1/4 cup pesto (basil or chive)
3/4 cup black olives, pitted and halved
3 oz. prosciutto
1 cup grated parmesan
Heat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment and sprinkle with cornmeal. Spread the pizza dough on the pan.
Sauté the shallot, garlic, and aleppo pepper in olive oil until the shallot is tender and lightly browned. Rinse the spinach and add to the pan with the water still clinging to the leaves. Sauté for a few minutes, just until the spinach is wilted and any liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.
Mix the ricotta and pesto in a small bowl. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the dough. Distribute the spinach over the ricotta, then top with the olives. Sprinkle with parmesan. Pull the prosciutto into shreds and drape on the top. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden and the prosciutto is crisp.