There are changes ahead. As the weather turns better, the days longer, gas prices will rise and we will get suntanned, and cherries will be harvested and inventoried at work, and my dog will move farther and farther away from the sunny spots on the carpet in favor of shady naps. We will cook on the deck, take walks more often, and my husband — dum-dadummm — will go back to work. Things are really going to change. Like most importantly: while he is working the swing shift, whomever will I cook dinner for? Besides photographing some dishes now and then for you, my readers, of course. But I see quite a few green salads and mushroom toasts in my future evenings (and a lot more Masterpiece Theater, amiright?). Not that I am complaining — we are thrilled that our good Lord brought Nathan employment. We are hopeful, excited. We are blessed.
I love pizza, I really love it and I keep trying different methods and I keep getting closer, but not quite arriving at my ideal home-made pizza. Practicing, though, is half the fun. And this pie is a great attempt. In the interest of a dinner offering not containing bleached flour, I swapped the all-purpose flour in the dough for whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour. It produced an extremely heavy dough, which would have been a dud of a loaf of bread, but thankfully was a quite “hearty” crust. I would not recommend doing as I did, using instead at least half all-purpose flour to whole-wheat, then arriving at a precisely hearty crust with a great combination of chew and crunch.
I think the sweet, caramelized fennel on this pizza is an amazing contrast with the tangy, soft goat cheese and peppery slices of baby turnip. Garlic-infused olive oil, brushed on in place of a sauce, gave the crust so much flavor and made the smells from the oven even more mouthwatering. Once the whole pie was topped with baby greens dressed in a light vinaigrette — made from more garlic oil — and the delicate fronds of the anise, this was one of the best-flavored and loveliest pizzas we’ve enjoyed from our kitchen. After making it twice in two weeks, I’m definitely keeping it in regular rotation. On this particular evening, I made it alongside a salami and olive pizza that I found absolutely abhorrent in the sodium factor…. we’ve eaten a little too well for the last 30 days and the processed meat slayed my tastebuds and gave me a powerful thirst. This fennel pizza, with it’s simple ingredients, was the highlight of our dinner.
I can’t wait for you to try caramelizing fennel… it gives the licoricey bulb a delicate sweetness and intensifies the flavor. I wanted to put it on everything! Don’t be worried by the ingredient list below — garlic oil can be made ahead of time and lasts for months, and the dough and fennel can be prepped in advance, as well — the recipe moves quite quickly. Enjoy!
caramelized fennel and goat cheese pizza with dressed greens
yields one 16-inch pizza
I added some mozarella to my pizza for extra cheesiness, but that is optional — the goat cheese alone imparts a wonderful, tangy flavor, the mozzarella offering mostly texture and mild flavor.
When I make a batch of no-knead pizza dough (link below), it yields four large (16-inch) pizzas. I like to use one or maybe two quarter portions of dough for a dinner. The remaining portions are wrapped individually in plastic and frozen inside a gallon freezer bag. When I’m ready for another pizza night, I let another portion or two thaw, then come to room temperature and continue as usual — such a time-saver! The dough is extremely forgiving, and I’ve found this resting period makes it even easier to stretch out the second time around.
- 1/4 batch no-knead pizza dough
- garlic oil (recipe below)
- 1 baby turnip, peeled and very thinly sliced (a mandoline works beautifully here)
- caramelized fennel (recipe below)
- 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper
- chunks of fresh mozarella, optional
- 3 oz crumbled goat cheese (1/2 cup or so)
- reserved fennel fronds
Preheat oven to 450 with rack on the bottom.
Stretch out the dough into a 16-inch or so rectangle or circle, depending on your pan, using flour to keep everything from sticking. Brush the dough from edge to edge with garlic oil. Layer with turnips, caramelized fennel and onion slices and sprinkle everything with salt and pepper. Par-bake pizza for 6 – 7 minutes.
Add goat cheese and mozzarella, if using, and return to oven until cheese is melted and crust is golden. Top with fennel fronds and dressed greens.
- baby spinach or arugula
- 2 tablespoons garlic oil
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or lemon juice
- squeeze of dijon
Whisk together last three ingredients, season with salt and pepper and toss with greens just before topping pizza.
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Heat oil and garlic together on medium heat in a small pan, just until bubbles begin to show around edges of garlic. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove garlic cloves and store in a repurposed glass jar at room temperature. Make ahead: will keep for up to six months.
- 1 large fennel bulb (fronds trimmed, reserved) sliced thinly through the root end
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- few drops maple syrup
- coarse salt
- fennel seeds
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium/medium-high. Add half the fennel and arrange in a single layer, allowing to cook until golden-brown on the bottom. Flip each slice and sprinkle with salt and a half teaspoon of fennel seeds; sprinkle a few drops of maple syrup around the pan and cook until fennel is caramelized, lowering heat if browning too quickly. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining fennel slices. Make ahead: store covered in the fridge for up to 48 hours.