Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Since marshmallows do not = dinner

I promise, we did not just eat s'mores for dinner the other night.  We started with a delicious goat cheese pizza and salad.
Jess and I share an obsession with goat cheese.  After we chose a date for dinner (something that needs to be done many weeks in advance since Jess is one of the busiest people I know), I then scoured my list of recipes for anything and everything using goat cheese.  I came across a really interesting recipe for pizza with a goat cheese sauce.  It ended up being perfect - we had a lot of the ingredients in our own kitchens, so it was really cheap to make.
To go with it, we made a really simple salad.  The original plan was to make a salad with pan fried goat cheese rounds, but after making the marshmallows (that was the first thing we did, since they take a while to set), and then assembling the pizza, simplicity was our friend.  And crumbled goat cheese won out.
Always drink wine while cooking :)

Recipe: Whole Wheat Pizza with Goat Cheese and Veggies (adapted from Cake, Batter and Bowl)
1 lb of your favorite whole wheat pizza dough (Trader Joe's has a great one that's cheap)
1 tbsp olive oil
10 oz fresh, sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas for good flavor)
2 cloves garlic, minced
~6 oz fresh spinach and arugula (I had some leftover from salad)
6 oz goat cheese
3 oz (6 tbsp) milk (any kind works fine here, I used skim because it's what I had)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Take out your pizza dough, if refrigerated.  It rolls out best when it's close to room temperature.
Put your pizza stone on the middle rack of your oven and preheat at 450 F.  The instructions that came with my stone say to preheat it at 450 F for 30 minutes before using so I always do that - if yours says anything different, then just go with that.
Heat oil in a nonstick skillet (use a pretty big one) over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until softened.  Add spinach (and arugula, if using) and garlic, and cook until wilted.  Remove from the heat.

Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface into whatever shape you want.  (Just make sure it'll fit on your pizza stone!  Mine is a rectangle, so it supports almost any shape/size.)  We rolled it into a ~14 inch diameter circle.

In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, milk, salt and parmesan together until creamy.

When the oven has preheated, put the pizza dough on a cornmeal-coated pizza peel and slide onto the pizza stone (which should also be coated with cornmeal).  My dad loves this aspect of pizza baking - he calls the cornmeal his "ball bearings."
Cook the pizza for ~3 minutes, just until it starts to hold shape a bit.  I always par-bake my pizza crust before adding toppings so it can crisp up a bit, and handle a heavy load of toppings without getting soggy.  If it starts to bubble up, just pop the bubble with a fork or the tip of a sharp knife.
Using the pizza peel, take the pizza back out of the oven.  Spread the goat cheese mixture on top, leaving a border for the crust.  Top with the mushroom and spinach mixture (warning - my mushrooms let out a lot of liquid, so I used a slotted spoon to pick them up and then pressed down with another spoon to push out as much liquid as possible.)  Sprinkle the red onions on top, and then the tomatoes on top of that.

Top with the mozzarella cheese, and then (carefully) slide back onto the pizza stone.  Cook for ~10 minutes, or until the crust gets crisp and the cheese is bubbling and golden.
Remove using the pizza peel, and let it sit for a few minutes before slicing up and enjoying!

Arugula Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese
This recipe is pretty basic - take a bunch of arugula, top with sliced roasted beets (Trader Joe's has them in the refrigerated section, pre-roasted.  Very handy.)  Crumble fresh goat cheese on top.  We made a simple vinaigrette using Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Enjoy your dinner with (more) wine!

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