In North America, a taste for bitterness often goes uncelebrated. But in her book Bitter, Jennifer McLagan finds the beauty in it.
Often arugula is just scattered on pizza at the end of cooking, the heat of the pizza being enough to wilt it. In this recipe most of the arugula is added at the beginning, giving a touch of bitter pungency to the sweet roasted tomato sauce. Then the rest is added for a quick final cooking. This pizza can be made with any bitter greens: try turnip or dandelion greens. Of course you can buy the dough and the tomato sauce, but they are easy to make; just start the day before.
- Mix 1⁄3 cup of the warm water with the yeast and sugar in a measuring cup and leave to proof in a warm place for about 10 minutes.
- Stir the flour and salt together. Add the remaining 1⁄3 cup water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the yeast mixture, then stir into the flour and mix to form a dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and supple. You can do this in a stand mixer with a dough hook.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down and, if not using straight away, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Let the dough rise again. If you refrigerate the dough, take it out at least 1 1⁄2 hours before baking the pizza.
- While the dough is rising, make the tomato sauce. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the tomatoes in half. Place the sliced onion in an ovenproof dish just large enough to hold the tomato halves. Place the tomatoes on top of the onion, cut side down. Add the garlic and pour over the remaining olive oil. Add some basil leaves and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 1 hour, or until the tomatoes are browned and the onion is soft. Let cool slightly, then pass everything through the coarse disk of a food mill. You will have 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sauce, depending on your tomatoes; you’ll need 1 cup. If necessary, pour the sauce into a saucepan and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring from time to time, until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup. Season with salt and pepper and set aside; refrigerate if not using straight away.
- Place the sliced red onion in a bowl of ice-cold water and leave it for 1 hour. If you refrigerated your pizza dough, take it out now. Place a pizza stone (or unglazed ceramic tiles) in your oven.
- Preheat your oven to the highest temperature you can. Lightly grease a 12-inch pizza pan and sprinkle with cornmeal. Roll out the pizza dough and place on the pan. Rinse and dry the arugula. Remove any thick stems, then slice the leaves thinly; you should have about 3 cups.
- Drain the red onion and squeeze it in a towel to remove all the moisture. Scatter over the base of the pizza and top with three-quarters of the arugula, then the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the crust is puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and top with the prosciutto, Parmesan cheese, and remaining arugula. Slide the pizza off the pan and directly onto the pizza stone and bake for another 2 to 3 minutes to melt the cheese and wilt the arugula.
Reprinted with permission from Bitter copyright © 2014 by Jennifer McLagan. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.