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Archive for Pasta-Pizza

TIP OF THE DAY: Fideo, “Mexican Spaghetti” & Soup Pasta

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Fideo

Barilla Fideo

[1] Sopa de Fideo, a popular Mexican comfort food (photo courtesy http://BudgetBytes.com). [2] A bowl of plain fideo (photo courtesy CookDiary.net). [3] Barilla makes fideo, as well as Hispanic specialists like Goya (photo courtesy Barilla).

 

October is National Pasta Month, an occasion to explore and try different types of pasta. May we suggest fideo?

What is fideo (fee-DAY-yo)?

Fideo spaghetti tagliati means fideo-cut spaghetti. Fideo is a Spanish word for noodle, so essentially, the spaghetti is being cut like noodles (i.e., short strands).

The actual pasta used is short-cut vermicelli: thin strands of pasta available in one- or two-inch lengths, depending on manufacturer. Vermicelli is a round strand pasta slightly thinner than spaghetti but thicker than angel hair.

Fideo is popular in Mexican cuisine, where it is also called fidelini (and “Mexican spaghetti” by Americans).

You can also break up your own from spaghetti, vermicelli or other thin strand pasta, including including ribbon (flat) pasta like linguine. Some people prefer the eye appeal of the irregular, hand-broken shapes.

What makes it extra-special in savory recipes is quickly toasting the noodles in a bit of olive oil. It produces a nutty, toasty extra depth of flavor that’s another reason to enjoy fideo.
 
WAYS TO USE FIDEO

Fideo is a Mexican comfort food that can be served as a starter or a main dish ingredient. It is perhaps best known as a toasted soup pasta, popular in Sopa de Fideo, a classic bowl of comfort.

As a stand-in for rice, it versatile to be used in anything from fideo “risotto” (recipe below) to fideo “rice pudding.”

What could be more comforting than tomato soup with fideo? Here’s a recipe from. .

  • Fideo Con Carne, a beef and potato stew with crunchy fideo noodles
  • Fideo Paella: exchange the rice for toasted fideo and your choice of mix-ins: clams, chorizo, green peas, mussels, sausage, shredded chicken, shrimp, etc. The dish, which originated in Spain, is called fideua (FID-a-wah).
  • Guisado, the Spanish word for stew, can take many forms, including a classic Mexican beef stew of beef and potatoes with fideo.
  • Tomato Soup With Fideo.
  • Crispy Pan-Fried Shrimp and Chorizo Fideo Cakes, a fusion of a Spanish classic with Japanese grilled sticky rice cakes from chef Ilan Hall.
  • Quick casseroles—check out this classic with chickpeas, kale, jalapeños and olives (i.e., toss in anything you like).
  •  
    MIX AND MATCH

    Put together your own fideo recipe with:

  • Base: broth (beef, chicken, vegetable), tomato sauce
  • Herbs and spices: chiles/chili powder/hot sauce, cilantro, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Proteins: chicken, fish/seafood, ground meat, stew meat, tofu
  • Vegetables: bell peppers, capers, carrots, celery, chickpeas, chiles, corn, lima beans, onions, olives, peas, potatoes, squash, tomates
  • Garnish: shredded cheese, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raisins/dried cherries or cranberries
  • After you pick your ingredients, the recipe cooks quickly:

    Preparation

    1. HEAT cooking oil in a skillet; when the oil shimmers, add the pasta and stir to coat. Sauté, stirring frequently, until toasted and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.

    2. ADD the sauce or other base, vegetables, spices and herbs. When all vegetables are cooked to the desired tenderness, add in the cheese.

    3. STIR in the cooked protein (cubed, diced, shredded) or use the cooked fideo as a base for the protein.
     
    RECIPE: FIDEO RISOTTO

    “What’s not to love about toasted noodles infused with a pinch of cumin and a hint of rich tomatoes?” asks Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog, who developed this recipe.

    “Typically served dry as a side dish or flooded with broth as a soup, my preference falls somewhere in between; a thick stew of vegetables and pasta that could be eaten either with a spoon or a fork, depending on how long the noodles are cooked.

    “Taking that concept just one step further, you can make a risotto—just without the rice.”

    Fideo takes on a uniquely nutty taste thanks to a quick sauté before cooking. Hannah mingles the flavors of roasted peppers, smoked paprika and cumin “to render a wholly warming, revitalizing bowl full of edible comfort” that she finds even more satisfying than a bowl of risotto.

    Hannah developed this as a vegan recipe, using nutritional yeast instead of cheese. We added the option of grated parmesan cheese.

     

    Ingredients For 3-4 Main Servings

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups (1/2 pound) broken or cut spaghetti
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted, seeded, and diced
  • 1 Red or Orange Bell pepper, Roasted, seeded and diced
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoons tequila
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup corn kernels, canned and drained or frozen and thawed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: 1/4 cup toasted pepitas, grated parmesan cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE half of the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Once shimmering, add in the pasta and stir to coat.

    2. SAUTÉ the noodles, stirring frequently, until toasted and golden brown all over, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the noodles from the pot and set aside.

    3. RETURN the pot to the stove and add the remaining oil. Cook the onions and garlic together until softened and aromatic. Introduce the tomatoes and both roasted peppers next, stirring periodically. Continue to cook until the onions are lightly golden.

    4. ADD the vegetable broth, tequila, lime juice, nutritional yeast, paprika, and cumin. Bring the liquid to a boil before returning the toasted noodles to the pot. Stir well to incorporate, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low.

    5. SIMMER gently until the pasta is tender and the liquid mostly absorbed, 9 to 11 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and add the corn and cilantro.

    6. TASTE and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls with optional garnish.
     
    WHAT IS NUTRITIONAL YEAST?

    Nutritional yeast is—as the name implies—a form of yeast that can be used on foods and in recipes. It is a vegan product.

    It’s an inactive form of the same yeast strain—Saccharomyces cerevisiae—use to leaven bread. It has also been pasteurized to dry out the yeast and concentrate its nutritional benefits.

  • Find it at health food, natural food and vitamin stores.
  • It can be labeled yeast flakes, yeast seasoning.
  •  
    These golden flakes add flavor as nutrition, and are used by people seeking dairy- and cholesterol-free options to conventional cheeses.

    You can add savory, cheesy, nutty flavors by sprinkling nutritional yeast on pasta, salads, vegetables and other foods (popcorn, anyone?).

    Or use it instead of cheese in cooking and baking.

     

    Fideo Risotto

    Fideo Recipe

    Fideo & Shrimp

    Nutritional Yeast

    [4] Fideo risotto from Bittersweet Blog. [5] Toasting the fideo is a snap (photo courtesy BudgetBytes.com). [6] Fusion fideo: Fried shrimp cakes combine Spanish and Japanese concepts, using fideo instead of rice. Here’s the recipe from Chef Ilan Hall on FoodAndWine.com. [7] Nutritional yeast. You can buy it locally or online. Bragg’s, is also OU kosher.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: What To Use When You Don’t Have Pasta Sauce

    Pasta No Sauce

    Pasta Primavera

    Garlic Noodles

    Primavera Pasta

    [1] Got pasta but no red sauce or items that can be turned into it? Just check the pantry and the fridge (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [2] Check for fresh, canned or frozen vegetables and make Primavera with olive oil (photo courtesy Melissa’s). Bonus: some leftover chicken. [3] No veggies? No problem! Garlic, olive oil, chili flakes and some celery and cucumber from the fridge created this tasty dish (photo courtesy P.F. Chang’s). [4] This Primavera contains canned artichoke hearts and some strips of grated carrot (photo courtesy Grimmway Farms).

     

    October is National Pasta Month.

    Most of us have dry pasta in the pantry, an easy-cook dinner.

    But what if you have no pasta sauce—at least, no go-to red sauce, or the ingredients* from which to quickly make one?

    Recipes evolved because people used what they had on hand. You can do the same.

    These alternative sauces for pasta also work with grains and vegetables.
     
    SUBSTITUTE FOR PARMESAN CHEESE

    No parmesan or other Italian grating cheese? Use any other grated or shredded cheese, ricotta or cottage cheese (these latter often used to stuff pasta). Even those that may seem and unusual pairing—Stilton or Gouda, for example—work.

  • Crumbled cheese, such as blue, feta or goat, work with a simple oil or butter dressing.
  • Or leave cheese out entirely. Pasta/noodle dishes are served the world over without grated cheese. In Sicily, a mixture of bread crumbs and chopped herbs (oregano, parsley, thyme, etc.)
  •  
    SUBSTITUTE FOR RED SAUCE

    You can use any type of sauce you do have, from cheese sauce to salsa. Adding whatever vegetables—from sundried or cherry tomatoes to onions to any herb or spice on the shelf—gives added dimension. Check out these new Recipe Ready Tomato Paste Pouches from Hunt’s, and keep them in the pantry.

  • Asian sauces such as hoisin or ponzu or hoisin sauce create Asian-style noodles. You can also make Asian vinaigrette with sesame oil and rice wine vinegar; feel free to substitute the oil or vinegar with what you do have. You can also make a quick Asian dressing with soy sauce, vinegar and vegetable oil, a dash of garlic and/or ginger.
  • Butter, with cracked pepper or red pepper flakes, melts nicely on hot pasta. Just toss it for an instant sauce. Optional flavors include lemon zest, herbs or spices: ingredients found in any kitchen. If you have compound butter, great: Situations like this are exactly what it’s for.
  • Other dairy products provide additional options. You can use cottage cheese or ricotta straight or blended into a sauce; or make an herb sauce from milk, cream, sour cream or yogurt with whatever herbs or condiments you have on hand. You can also go international, flavoring these dairy products with anything: cumin, curry, dill, flavored salt, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, sage, tarragon, thyme, etc.
  • Meat, poultry and fish leftovers can be combined with any pasta or noodles. Leftover bacon? Sausage? Turkey? Just slice, dice and toss.
  • Olive oil or other oil is a substitute in many recipes. If you have a can of anchovies, clams, escargots, tuna or other seafood, it becomes both your topping and sauce. For a tonnato (tuna) sauce, pulse the tuna to the fineness you like.
  • Flavored olive oil makes an elegant sauce. You can add any ingredients you like, from capers and olives to garlic, jalapeño or lemon zest, chopped nuts or hard-boiled eggs.
  • Peanut sauce, the kind served on the popular Chinese appetizer, cold sesame noodles, can be made with only peanut butter Just dilute peanut butter with enough vegetable oil to the desired consistency. Season the sauce with sesame seeds, garlic and/or heat (hot sauce, chile flakes). Sprinkle with chopped green onions, chopped peanuts, and/or fresh herbs.
  • Salad dressings, whether olive oil and vinegar, mayonnaise, sour cream and bottled dressings, are used in different pasta salad recipes. So why not with hot pasta?
  • Vegetables—canned, fresh, frozen—combine with olive oil or melted butter into a primavera sauce. Use garlic or other seasoning as you prefer.
  • White sauce can be made in just 10 minutes. The recipe is below.
  •  
    More?

    Check the fridge and the pantry. You may find adobo, barbecue sauce, chili sauce, chimmichurri, chutney, pesto, piri-piri, sriracha ketchup and so on.

    Turn them into a pasta sauce by blending with oil, sour cream, yogurt, etc.

     
    RECIPE: QUICK WHITE SAUCE

    You can make a classic white sauce in just 10 minutes. Use it as is, or add whatever seasonings you like, from olives to nutmeg.

    With grated Parmesan, it would be Alfredo Sauce.

     
    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of white pepper (substitute black pepper—white is used simply so there are no dark flecks in the sauce)
  • 1 cup 2% or whole milk
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter over medium heat in a small pan. Add the flour, salt and pepper, whisking until smooth.

    2. SLOWLY WHISK in the milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until thickened. Use immediately or refrigerate, tightly covered.
     
    HOW MANY TYPES OF PASTA HAVE YOU TRIED?

    Check out the different types of pasta in our photo-packed Pasta Glossary.

     
    ________________
    *You can turn the following into red sauce: canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, tomato paste.

     
      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Cracker Barrel, The Best Boxed Mac & Cheese

    Why do so many American households make macaroni and cheese?

    It’s easy, cheap, fast (9 minutes!) comfort food—at least in modern packaged form. But in the many centuries before boxed mac & cheese, it was as laborious as most other cooking.

    THE HISTORY OF MACARONI & CHEESE

    The first written known record of pasta and cheese casseroles dates to medieval cookbooks of the 14th century.

    The first modern recipe for the dish was published in Britain, in Elizabeth Raffald’s 1769 book, The Experienced English Housekeeper.

    Raffald’s recipe calls for a mornay sauce—a secondary mother sauce that’s a béchamel sauce with cheese—in this case, cheddar cheese. The sauce is mixed with cooked macaroni, sprinkled with parmesan, and baked until golden.

    The recipe from scratch requires cooked macaroni (now referred to by its Italian name, pasta); plus milk, butter and flour and cheese to make the cheddar or parmesan sauce.

    Almost a century later, in 1861, the popular Victorian cookbook Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management offered two recipes for the dish, one topped with the bread crumbs still used today. Both books are available in reprints: Just click the links.

    Thomas Jefferson encountered pasta in Paris while Minister to France (1885 to 1889), and in his travels to Italy. Back in the U.S., he imported both macaroni and parmesan cheese in order to enjoy cheesy macaroni.
     
    Mac & Cheese Gets Its Name

    The first recipe called “macaroni and cheese” was published in the U.S. in 1824, in Mary Randolph’s influential cookbook, The Virginia Housewife. More American “macaroni and cheese” recipes followed, in the 1852 Hand-book of Useful Arts, and the 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book.

    By the mid-1880s, midwestern cookbooks included recipes for macaroni and cheese casseroles. Labor-intensive, the dish was enjoyed by the more affluent [source].
     
    Mac & Cheese Gets A Box

    Once it became available in dry packaged form in the first half of the 20th century, mac and cheese became affordable to the masses—and thus less interesting to the affluent. Launched in 1937 in the midst of the Great Depression, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese advertised that a family of four could eat for 19¢, the price of a box. Consumers bought eight million boxes in the first year [source].

    A whopping 50 million boxes were sold during World War II, when meat and dairy were in short supply, and one food ration stamp could be exchanged for two boxes of macaroni and cheese.

    Today, the original packaged form is joined by frozen heat-and-eat versions and cheddar cheese sauce is sold in jars. The dish can be cooked on the stovetop, in the oven or in a microwave.

    In the United States, July 14th is National Macaroni and Cheese Day. Now that we’re up to date…
     
     
    WELCOME, CRACKER BARREL MACARONI & CHEESE

    Up-front disclosure: We’re really picky about our food, and have never enjoyed powdered cheese sauce. Our mom made mac and cheese from scratch, grating cheddar, gruyère or parmesan into her béchamel.

    She used bricks Cracker Barrel cheddar, her brand of choice. Back then, specialty cheese stores were few and far between; and even today, it’s not easy for many people to find the finest farmhouse (artisan) cheddars (and if you found them, the best use would not be grated into a cheese sauce).

    So we were more than interested to see what Cracker Barrel would present as a packaged mac and cheese.

    It’s the cheese that makes the biggest difference in preparations, and Cracker Barrel does not disappoint. Its cheese sauce is not mixed from powder, but is ready to eat, squeezed from a package onto the cooked elbow macaroni.

    Smooth, creamy and full of flavor, it has a distinctively superior taste, creating what you’d expect from a casual restaurant instead of a boxed product.

     

    Macaroni & Cheese Breadcrumbs

    Macaroni & Cheese Broccoli

    Lobster Mac & Cheese

    BLT Mac & Cheese

    Cracker Barrel Macaroni & Cheese

    [1] A bread crumb topping was suggested in Mrs. Beeton’s 1861 cookbook. [2] Sneaking in broccoli and riced cauliflower. [3] Go upscale with added shellfish; here, lobster (photo courtesy Blake’s). [4] BLT mac & cheese (photo courtesy WMMB). [5] The best boxed mac and cheese, new from Cracker Barrel.

     
    And while it comes in a box, Cracker Barrel is not meant to compete with other boxed mac and cheese (Kraft owns Cracker Barrel as well as the number-one brand, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese) but with prepared dishes from the refrigerated section of the grocery store, and with restaurant dishes. (Kraft, which owns the Cracker Barrel trademark, has no relation to the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.)

    People with sophisticated palates will notice the quality. Yet, the price is not much more than other boxed meals.

    There are four varieties of Cracker Barrel Macaroni and Cheese, featuring different cheese options:

  • Cheddar Havarti
  • Sharp Cheddar
  • Sharp Cheddar & Bacon
  • Sharp White Cheddar
  •  
    You can dress up the dish with anything you like. We enjoy it plain with fresh-cracked pepper and some grated parmesan, but also loved:

  • Bay scallops and toasted crumbs—shades of Coquilles Saint Jacques.
  • BLT-style, with a topping of bacon, baby arugula and diced tomato.
  • Ham and cheese—we had some baked ham as well as serrano ham. We julienned the former, shredded the latter and snipped some fresh herbs on top.
  • Veggie supreme, made with all our leftover vegetables. Tip: put the veggies on the bottom and they’ll be coated with cheese sauce.
  •  
    DOES MAC & CHEESE REQUIRE ELBOW MACARONI?

    No: You can use any pasta. Elbow macaroni most likely became the standard because it was easy for children to eat with a spoon.

    We heard one of our favorite chefs—Gordon Ramsay—chew out a chef on TV for making mac and cheese with penne, insisting that it must be made with elbows.

    Not so, chef!

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Pizzeria Pronto Stovetop Pizza Oven

    September 5th is National Cheese Pizza Day, honoring the original modern pizza, the Margherita. It was named after Queen Margherita, consort to Umberto I, King of Italy from 1878–1900.

    As the story goes, during a visit to Naples, she asked the best pizza maker in town, Don Raffaele, to make her a pie. He made it in the colors of the Italian flag, a simple but delicious pie of basil, mozzarella and tomatoes. Here’s the history of pizza.

     
    WHAT’S A STOVETOP PIZZA OVEN?

    Simply this: a steel case that sits on top of a gas burner and cooks your pizza atop pizza stones. There’s no electricity, no wood chips, no nuthin’ but the Pizzeria Pronto and your gas range.

    We love it: from the pizza stones that create an oh-so-delightful crust to the top quality ingredients we used. As long as we have dough in the fridge, we can have a pizza anytime we want, better than anything delivered. efficient new way to make pizza at home.

    Pizzeria Pronto is made by Companion Group, a company that began more than 30 years ago with the original Charcoal Companion charcoal chimney starter. The line now includes other grilling tools and accessories, and the Pizzacraft® line of artisan-quality pizza stones, pizza ovens, tools and accessories.

    In 2013 the company launched the first propane-fueled outdoor portable pizza oven, which pre-heats in 10 minutes and cooks the pie in 5 minutes. In 2016, the indoor Pizzeria Pronto® Stovetop Pizza Oven was released nationwide—the first gas range-powered indoor oven.

    Small but mighty, Pizzeria Pronto transforms your favorite dough and toppings into perfectly-cooked pizzas in just minutes (after all, the name means “pizza in a hurry”). With its heat-efficient design, it traps and reflects heat to harness the power of your gas range, creating an optimal cooking environment of up to 600°F. Yet, the room is no warmer than if you used your oven.
     
    How To Use Pizzeria Pronto Stovetop Pizza Oven

  • Simply place the round oven over a gas burner and turn on the flame.
  • The inside of the oven reaches 600°F, much higher than a conventional oven.
  • It preheats in 15 minutes and cooks a personal-size pizza in 6 minutes. TIP: If you want to keep the first pizzas hot while you cook more, keep them warm in a conventional oven preheated to 500°F.
  • You also need a personal-size pizza peel to insert and remove the pizza from the oven. The company sells one separately.
  •  
    The electric plug-in pizza ovens we’ve tried can’t hold a candle to it.

    It’s well worth the space it requires if you’d like to make pizza weekly or more often. We don’t have extra room in our kitchen so we did a bit of housecleaning. So long, old backup food processor and biannually-used waffle iron.
     
    WHERE TO FIND IT

    Pizzeria Pronto is available at major retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and online. Williams-Sonoma carries a gray-top model instead of the standard red-orange model shown in the photos.

    Prices vary but it’s currently $106.27 on Amazon (a deep discount off the MSRP of $179.99).

     

    Pizzeria Pronto

    Pizzeria Pronto

    Pizzeria Pronto

    Pizzeria Pronto

    [1] Place the oven on the stovetop and turn up the flame to preheat. Add the pizza. [2] Close the oven door. [3] Cook for six minutes. [4] Remove the pizza, fragrant and bubbling. Photos courtesy Pizzeria Pronto .

     
    Before buying, take a minute to look at the bottom of this page to see if your gas burners will work.

    OUR FIRST PIZZERIA PRONTO PARTY

    We invited the crowd over for a pizza party and bought (or over-bought, as is our won’t) the ingredients: regular and whole wheat doughs, sauces and cheeses for red and white pies.

    We provided lots of toppings: anchovies, garlic, jalapeños, mini meatballs, mushrooms, olives, onion and zucchini. But the crust (dough purchased from Fairway), sauce (the Classico brand Riserva line [not Bertolli Riserva]), mozzarella and ricotta (Bel Gioso) were so good that most people opted for a plain pie.

    We personally, however, had anchovies from Cento: not salty, just right.
     
    FEATURES & TIPS

    Features

  • Steel casing with a heat-efficient design (you won’t feel that it’s 600° of heat).
  • Ttwo Cordierite baking stones diffuse the heat and deliver a perfect crust.
  • Very little assembly required. You need no technical skill whatsoever.
  • The built-in thermometer tells you when it’s time to add the pizza.
  • A moisture vent on top prevents the crust pizza from becoming soggy.
  • Dimensions: 16.93 inches x 14.25 inches x 6.69 inches. Weight: 14.7 pounds, which we (non-athletic female) had no trouble lifting.
  • Not for use with electric or induction stoves.
  •  
    Tips

  • You’ll need cornmeal (semolina), so the bottom of the crust doesn’t stick to the stone plate.
  • Be sure to have a good pizza cutter and a brush to clean the pizza stone afterward.
  • One package of store-bought dough (we bought the fresh dough that comes in a plain plastic bag), meant for one large pie, makes two personal pizzas.
  •  
    HAVE FUN WITH IT!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ratatouille Pizza

    Ratatouille (rah-tah-TWEE) is a vegetable side dish that originated in the Provence region of France. The classic recipe consists of sautéed eggplant, onions, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini plus garlic and herbs.

    It is traditionally summer dish, when tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash are plentiful and at peak.

    Ratatouille is delightfully colorful when you use red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers and tomatoes/cherry tomatoes. To make ratatouille as a side dish, check out this recipe.
     
    RECIPE: RATATOUILLE PIZZA

    Ingredients For 1 Large Pizza

    You can save time by purchasing the dough or a prepared crust (we sure did—and saved half the steps in the preparation). But Lisa, of Flour De Lisa made hers from scratch, using a pizza dough recipe from Bobby Flay. She adapted the ratatouille from Smitten Kitchen; we further adapted it.

    This can be a vegan recipe; but we adapted it by adding both ricotta and mozzarella. We put the mozzarella under the vegetables to showcase the colors. We also created a breakfast pizza version by adding eggs, which bake on top of the pizza.

    Without the cheese, the recipe is dairy free and low fat. Use a whole wheat crust and skim-milk cheeses and you have a pizza that’s on the “better for you” list.
     
    Ingredients For The Dough

  • 1-3/4 to 2 cups flour (bread flour for a crisper* crust, all-purpose for chewier)
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water (around 100°F)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  •  
    For The Ratatouille

    Slice the vegetables to a width of 1/8 to 1/16th inch.

  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 Japanese eggplant
  • 1 long red bell pepper or 6 mini red bell peppers
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 yellow or red onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Red pepper or chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Optional Garnishes

  • Capers and/or olives
  • Small or medium eggs
  • Herbs: fresh basil*, rosemary, thyme, other
  •  
    For The Optional Cheese Layer

  • 2 cups whole or part skim ricotta
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 handful† flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella or provolone
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup, shredded
  •  

    Ratatouille

    Fried Egg Ratatouille

    ratatouille-theformerchef-230r

    Tian Recipe

    [1] Ratatouille pizza (photo courtesy FlourDeLisa.Wordpress.com). [2] Bake eggs on top of the pizza, or fry or poach them in a pan to turn a ratatouille side into a main (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers. [3] courtesy TheFormerChef.com. [4] A tian, also from Provence, is another way to enjoy ratatouille ingredients (All-Clad gratin pan photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.)

     
    ________________
    *You can scatter 10 medium basil leaves or 1/2 cup shredded basil atop the pizza when it comes out of the oven.

    †A handful is one of those imprecise measures that says: Use how much you want. More or less of the ingredient is not critical to the recipe’s outcome.
     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the pizza dough: Combine 1-3/4 cup flour with the yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the oil and water, i.e. slightly warmer than your body temperature. Mix until the dough starts to form a ball. scraping down the bowl. If the dough is too wet, slowly add more flour. If dough becomes too dry, slowly add more water.

    2. TURN out the dough onto a lightly floured or oiled surface. Knead for a few minutes until it is smooth and elastic. When you poke it, the dough should spring back readily; when you hold the ball of between your palms, it should hold its shape. Lightly oil a clean bowl, place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Set aside in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. While waiting for the dough to rise…

    3. MAKE the ratatouille. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, minced garlic, sliced onion and a dash of red pepper flakes on the bottom of a 8- or 9-inch diameter springform pan. Alternatively, you can cook the ratatouille on top of the rolled out pizza dough, but the vegetables won’t be as tender or flavorful due to the significantly less cooking time.

    Optional cooking method: We steamed the vegetables separately to al dente, and then were able to pick them up with fingers and layer them perfectly, as in the photo.

    4. LAYER on top of the tomato paste mixture the zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and bell pepper, alternating the colors. Start with the inside perimeter and move inward. If you have extra vegetable, save them for a salad, omelet, etc. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the assembled ratatouille. Season with a dash of salt and pepper and thyme or rosemary. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes, increasing the temperature of the oven to as high as possible (450°F or 500°F on most ovens) within the last 5-10 minutes. While the ratatouille is baking…

    5. TURN back to the pizza dough. When the first rise is completed, turn out the dough onto a large sheet of lightly floured or oiled parchment paper. Punch out the air and form a disk. Roll out the dough into a circle about 10-12 inches in diameter. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

    6. MIX the ricotta with the garlic, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

    7. REMOVE the finished ratatouille from the oven, uncover the pizza dough and place it on a baking sheet. Parbake the pizza dough for a minute or two and remove from the oven. If using ricotta, spread it over the crust, followed by the mozzarella. If you prefer, use the mozzarella to top the pizza.

    8. RELEASE the springform pan carefully—it can be hot! Use one or two spatulas two to gently slide the ratatouille onto the center of the pizza. If you can do it evenly, great. If not, it will still taste delicious. Lightly brush the exposed pizza crust with olive oil.

    9. BAKE the pizza for 8-12 minutes, until the pizza crust is a golden brown. Slice and serve.
     
    CRISPER VS. CRISPIER

    Many people use the adjective crispier when they mean crisp.

  • Crisper is the comparative of crisp, i.e., “The crust is crisp but I’ll make it crisper next time.
  • Crispier is the comparative of crispy, i.e., the crust was nice and crispy but could have been even crispier.
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    It’s a small difference, but a difference nevertheless.

      

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