Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ratatouille Pizza

I've never liked ratatouille, and I'm not sure why.  I like everything in it.  But when it's all mixed together and basically turned into mush, well, it's just not appealing to me.

Then I saw the movie, which made me love the idea of ratatouille.  My favorite scene is when the food critic takes his first bite of the ratatouille and is instantly transported back to his childhood.  That's what truly great food does for me, takes me somewhere else altogether.

But I still don't really like ratatouille.  Brad says I'll change my mind when I try his.  We'll see, he hasn't made it yet.

In the meantime, I'll just continue to enjoy ratatouille in my own way.

Why, yes, of course I mean on a pizza.

Ratatouille Pizza
Layered with thinly sliced eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red onion and topped with goat cheese, this pizza is a perfect showcase for summer vegetables.  Makes me think of sunny mornings spent in the garden.

You know, if we had one.

The other reason why I loved this pizza is I got to use my new mandolin.  No, not the musical instrument, this:

I'd wanted one forever (and ever), and Brad gave me a really nice one for my last birthday.  I had a feeling I knew what was in the box, when he gave me my gift a week early just before we made this awesome potato pave' recipe from Thomas Keller's ad hoc at home cookbook.  (It's like the best version of scalloped potatoes you'll ever have.  Ever.)

We drank one of our favorites with this pizza, a Pinot Noir by Robert Sinskey Vineyards.

Ratatouille Pizza
To make this pizza, you will need our standby whole wheat pizza dough and simple red sauce.  Or you can use pre-made, your choice.

1 small eggplant, thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
thinly sliced red onion
4 oz goat cheese
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.  Ideally you should let the pizza stone heat for 45 minutes to an hour, but we've heated it for less time and still had ok results.

Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a pizza peel or large rimless baking sheet and place the ball of dough in the center.  Coat your fingers with olive oil and press the dough from the center outward into a 12-inch round with a slightly raised edge.  If the dough springs back, it is not quite ready to work.  Cover it with a clean kitchen towel, pour yourself a glass of wine, and let it rest a few minutes before continuing.  Patience is key here, as the thinner the dough is, the crispier the crust will be.  And the dough will not let you work it until it is good and ready.  It's kind of stubborn that way.

Brush the raised edge of the dough with a light coating of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sea salt.  For this pizza we used Red Alae Hawaiian Kai sea salt.  You don't want to put a lot of salt on the crust, think about how much salt you'd sprinkle on a soft pretzel.  Spread the dough evenly with the tomato sauce, leaving a 1/2 inch border uncovered.   Layer on eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini and red onion, then grind a little black pepper on top.  It should look something like this:

Crumble goat cheese over the top.  Carefully slide the pizza-topped parchment paper from the peel or baking sheet onto the hot pizza stone.  Bake until the edges are golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, 9-12 minutes.

Using the pizza peel or rimless baking sheet, remove the pizza from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board.  Let stand for 1 minute, then slice and serve.

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