A Little Pizzazz For Your Pizza: 3 Recipes For Summer Pies09:36
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White clam pizza. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
White clam pizza. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Making pizza at home doesn’t have to mean heating up a pie from your local pizza joint. It’s actually way easier than you might think.

Pizza dough in the grocery store used to be inferior, but things have vastly improved in the past few years (look for a locally-made dough). You can also make your own dough (see recipes below) or buy some from your favorite local pizza parlor.

Bake the pizza in the oven, or if it’s too hot and humid, light up a charcoal or gas grill. In terms of toppings, you can use virtually anything.

Here are three ideas, but think about taking advantage of summer produce, such as sautéed zucchini, thinly sliced and sautéed garden onions, shucked corn, fresh herbs, mushrooms, etc.

After rolling out the dough, Kathy Gunst moves the dough onto a pizza peel before applying the toppings for her white clam pizza. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
After rolling out the dough, Kathy Gunst moves the dough onto a pizza peel before applying the toppings for her white clam pizza. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

White Clam Pizza

I first tasted a white clam pizza at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, Connecticut. It was something of a revelation with its briny ocean flavors. In my version, I simmer the clams in white wine and garlic, take them out of the shell, and then reduce the cooking liquid until it’s almost a glaze thick enough to pour over the pizza. Grated Parmesan and red chile flakes finish the pizza off.

If you’ve never had a clam pizza and it sounds weird to you, just wait. You’re in for a very nice surprise.

Serves 4.

Clams before being thrown on the grill. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Clams before being thrown on the grill. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Ingredients

  • 2 to 2 1/2 dozen littleneck clams, or 1 to 1 1/2 dozen cherrystone clams
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped or thinly sliced
  • About 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 1 pizza dough, 1 pound
  • Flour for rolling out pizza dough
  • About 1 packed cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Clean the clams in cold running water. Place the clams in a large, heavy skillet.
  2. Pour on the wine, 2 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, pepper, garlic, half the parsley, and half the red chile flakes. Place over high heat and cook, stirring, for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the clams have opened; discard any clams that don’t open up at all.
  3. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Remove the clams from the shells and discard shells. If using cherrystone clams, coarsely chop. If using littlenecks leave them whole. Set aside.
  4. Place the skillet you cooked the clams in over high heat and reduce the cooking liquids until slightly thickened, almost like a glaze, about 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees or preheat your grill to about 450 to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone preheat it.
  6. Meanwhile, working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to a circle about 8 to 9 inches wide. Transfer to a baking sheet or floured pizza peel.
  7. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil over the surface of the dough. Add a light dusting of pepper. Scatter the cheese on top and then add the clams, distributing them evenly on the pizza round. Spoon on the thickened juices from the skillet and the remaining red chile flakes.
  8. Bake in the oven for about 8 to 9 minutes (or, if grilling, place on a grill sheet and grill, covered, over direct heat for about 5 to 6 minutes), or until the pizza is puffed, golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbling. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley.

Spinach and Ricotta Pizza

Pizza with spinach, ricotta and mozzarella. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Pizza with spinach, ricotta and mozzarella. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

This pizza is simple and straightforward but the combination of fresh spinach with creamy ricotta, mozzarella and grated Parmesan creates a cheesy spinach topping that will become a favorite.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound baby spinach or regular spinach, about 8 cups
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • Flour for rolling out dough
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the spinach in batches, stirring, and cook until wilted and soft, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees or preheat your grill to about 450 to 500 degrees. Preheat a pizza stone if you have one.
  3. Meanwhile, working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to a circle about 8 to 9 inches wide. Transfer to a baking sheet or floured pizza peel. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil over the surface of the dough. Add a light dusting of pepper. Scatter the mozzarella cheese on top and then add the sautéed spinach and garlic, distributing it evenly on the pizza round. Spoon small dollops of the ricotta cheese on top of the spinach and then sprinkle with the Parmesan.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 8 to 9 minutes (or, if grilling, place on a grill sheet and grill over direct heat covered for about 5 to 6 minutes), or until the pizza is puffed, golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Tomato, Mozzarella, Anchovy and Arugula Pizza

Tomato, mozzarella, arugula and anchovy pizza. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Tomato, mozzarella, arugula and anchovy pizza. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A twist on a traditional Margherita pizza, this version combines fresh tomato slices, mozzarella, and salty anchovy fillets. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle the pizza with fresh torn basil leaves and raw, peppery arugula leaves.

Serves 4.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • Flour for rolling out the dough
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 packed cup grated Parmesan
  • 6 to 8 anchovy fillets, plus some oil from the tin
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into small pieces
  • 1 cup arugula

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees or preheat your grill to about 450 to 500 degrees. Preheat a pizza stone if you have one.
  2. Meanwhile, working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to a circle about 8 to 9 inches wide. Transfer to a baking sheet or floured pizza peel. Spread 1 tablespoon of the oil over the surface of the dough. Scatter the mozzarella cheese on top and then spread the tomatoes on top distributing them evenly on the pizza round, creating two overlapping layers if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the Parmesan.
  3. Arrange the anchovies on top, criss-crossing 2 anchovies to create an “X.” Drizzle about a teaspoon of the anchovy oil over the pizza along with the remaining tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 8 to 9 minutes (or, if grilling, place on a grill sheet and grill over direct heat, covered, for about 5 to 6 minutes), or until the pizza is puffed, golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove and scatter with the fresh basil and arugula.

This segment aired on July 31, 2019.

Related:

Kathy Gunst Twitter Here & Now Resident Chef
Kathy Gunst is a James Beard Award-winning journalist and the author of 15 cookbooks.

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