White Bean, Artichoke, Zucchini Pizza

7 Sep

Pizza is one of my all-time favorite foods.  My love for pizza started very early in my life when my family lived in Lorain, Ohio.  Besides being the location of many fond family and childhood memories, I’ll always remember Lorain for its amazing pizza places.  Selenti’s, Olde Time, Magic Pan….pizza that we would go out to get despite negative temperatures and gusting blizzards.  Pizza that was perfectly sauced and both chewy and crispy in all the right places.  With real cheese that stretched a foot when bitten into.  Pizza that set a pretty high bar for future pizzas in my life.

When my family moved to North Carolina, we searched and searched for pizza to live up to those high standards, and failed every time.  So, since those early years in Lorain I’ve expanded my definition of good pizza, finding things to love about New York thin crust, deep dish Chicago style and the various blends of specialty and offbeat pizza places we have in Raleigh, like Lilly’s and Capital Creations.  But still, Lorain will always have a little “pizza my heart!”

These days I like to make my own.  Although I’ve never quite gotten the crispy-to-chewy ratio right to date, my crust has improved every single time I’ve made it.  My latest favorite recipe comes from the Joy of Cooking, with a couple modifications.  I swap at least a cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat, and I use honey instead of sugar.  One of these days, I promise to do a post on pizza dough and all the tips and tricks I’ve learned by trial and error!

One awesome thing about making pizza at home is that you can be as creative with the toppings as you want.  For this one, I used a cannellini bean puree as a base instead of tomato sauce.

Bean Dip – Also great on pita chips!

Since the puree contained strong flavors of olive and garlic, I went simple with the toppings: artichoke hearts, zucchini and a shower of freshly shredded parmesan.

Pizza is something that we make often, but even if you only plan to make it once a month, it’s worth it to invest in a pizza stone.  Pizza stones mimic a brick oven and, I think, make the best at-home pizzas.  The general process for making pizzas is:

  1. Pre-heat oven and pizza stone to 475.
  2. Shape your dough by stretching or rolling it out to the size of your stone.  Let it rest.
  3. While your dough is resting, prepare your toppings.
  4. Move your stretched dough onto a pizza peel or piece of parchment paper – dusted with cornmeal or flour.
  5. Assemble pizza.
  6. Slide assembled pizza from the pizza peel onto the hot pizza stone without removing it from the oven.

The reason you don’t want to remove the stone from the oven is simply that it is heavy and HOT.  A pizza peel or parchment paper on the back of a sheet pan just makes your job of getting the assembled pizza into the oven easier and safer.  The whole rigamarole takes some practice, but it’s not really as complicated as it may seem!

The finished product!

Making pizza at home, for me, is a rewarding and therapeutic experience.  My crust isn’t always perfect, and I have yet to match the pizza from my memories, but it always satisfies my pizza addiction.

White Bean, Artichoke, Zucchini Pizza

  • Prepared pizza dough
  • 1 can white cannellini beans
  • 1/3 cup tapenade
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tsp fresh thyme
  • s/p
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced zucchini
  • About 1/2 can of canned artichoke hearts in water, drained roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan
  1. In a food processor, combine beans, tapenade, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.  Puree and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until spreadable consistency.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 475.  Assemble pizza as described in above post.
  3. Baking time will depend on the thickness of your pizza.  Watch carefully, as you are baking at a high temperature!  Bake until crust is browned and cheese is melted and bubbly.  You can also broil on high for a few minutes at the end to further brown and roast your toppings.  To check for doneness, use a pizza peel or spatula to gently lift your pizza off the stone.  The bottom should be golden brown and crisp.

~Carla

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