Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pizza With Caramelized Onions, Broccoli Rabe, and Goat Cheese

 This pizza was inspired by a recipe over on Smitten Kitchen, and it's remained a perennial favorite in our house, particularly in the winter. It's the kind of pizza that makes a well-rounded meal, and the hearty greens are enough to convince you that you can eat pizza and be nutritionally virtuous at the same time.

The bitterness of the broccoli rabe, the sweet caramelized onions, and the tangy goat cheese become more than the sum of their parts, and when some chewy pizza dough and some garlic oil are thrown into the mix, this pizza makes a just about perfect meal.

I know that some people are turned off by the bitterness of hearty winter greens, but I assure you  when the broccoli rabe is joined by its culinary companions, the bitterness becomes an asset and gives the whole pizza a delicious balance. Plus, whereas some hearty greens benefit from a long cooking time, the broccoli rabe cooks in just a few minutes. Also a nice benefit is the fact that this pizza requires no fresh herbs. So if your herb garden has died, or you don't feel like buying expensive fresh herbs, you're in luck.

Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Broccoli Rabe, and Goat Cheese
  • 1/2 recipe pizza dough
  • 2 medium onions
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (also called rapini)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • A couple pinches sugar, or a squeeze of agave nectar
  • 3-4 ounces goat cheese
  • Very good extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • Lemon, cut into wedges
While the pizza dough is rising, slice the onions. In a skillet, heat 2 teaspoons canola oil over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook until very soft and caramelized, about 30 minutes. If the onions start to dry out, add a tablespoon of butter. Salt to taste while cooking.

While the onions cook, combine the minced garlic and the good olive oil in a little bowl. Set aside. Cut off the bottom inch or two of the bunch of broccoli rabe, so that the dried-out, tough parts of the stem are removed. Chop the rest of the bunch into small, bite-sized pieces. Wash thoroughly.

In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli rabe (it's okay if there is still some water clinging to the leaves). Add salt to taste, and a pinch of red pepper flakes, and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Taste the greens. If they are very bitter, add the couple pinches of sugar or the squeeze of agave nectar. Remove from heat.

When the dough has been rising for about 45 minutes, preheat the oven (with a pizza stone in place) to 500 degrees.
When the dough has almost doubled in size (about and hour and a half), stretch it out into a 12-inch circle. It helps to take your fingertips and make divets all over the surface of the dough, then spread with the palms of your hands, pushing outward. Repeat until the dough is the desired size.

Spread the garlic oil over the surface of the pizza, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Using a peel or an inverted pizza sheet, slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Cook until the dough is getting firmer and is taking on a teeny-tiny bit of a golden color, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven, and close the oven door. Spread the onions over the surface of the pizza. Spread the broccoli rabe over the onions, and cover the whole thing with the goat cheese. Return to the oven and cook until the crust is golden brown and the goat cheese is melted a bit.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a bit of salt, the Monterey Jack if you're using it, and the very good olive oil. Sometimes this pizza benefits from a sprinkle of lemon juice, and sometimes it doesn't need it, so perhaps serve some lemon slices on the side. Cut into wedges and serve.

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