2/25/11

No Red Sauce Please

The other day I read Alicia Paulson's blog, Posie Gets Cozy where she posted what looks like a delicious lasagne recipe which she dubbed Rozale Lasagna. So nummy looking that I copied and saved it on my computer. Our current weather and temperatures are perfect for a little oven cooking. In Alicia's post, she mentioned how she doesn't care for red sauce. I myself love sauces regardless of color, but it got me thinking about Italian food and just how many recipes involve a red sauce of some sort.
Last year's pot of oregano and thyme 
I remembered a wonderful recipe for a pizza that I haven't made in a while or shared with you. It's a wonderful dish with fresh herbs that hints Spring is just around the corner.

My Pizza Recipe (real original title, huh?)
Pizza dough (I buy the fresh pre-made kind at Trader Joes)
1 jar Prego spaghetti sauce or any kind you prefer
1/2 to 1 onions, chopped (amount based on personal preference)
1/2 c. mushrooms, chopped (cepes/porcini if available, see: *Note)
1 green or red pepper, chopped
Italian sausage, sweet or hot (cooked, casing removed, and crumbled) 
2-3 T. fresh oregano, thyme, and basil, chopped
1/2 lb. Mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 450F (232.25C). Spray a large cookie sheet with sides (like a jelly roll pan) with cooking spray or wipe with olive oil on a paper towel.  Spread dough over cookie sheet pushing up to the sides to create an edge or lip.  Sparingly spoon Prego Spaghetti sauce over the dough, enough to cover but not drown in.  Spread remaining ingredients evenly over sauced dough.  Sprinkle with herb mixture. Cover with Mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese, sometimes I just use Monterey Jack and skip the Mozzarella. You could experiment with an assortment of cheeses. I find that if the cheese is put on  last, the flavor of the herbs blends in better than if they're on top.

Bake at 450 F. for 20-40 minutes until cheese is melted, bubbly and crust is brown. All ovens vary so check periodically. The wide range in cooking times depends too on how heavy-handed you are with the ingredients!


*Note:  For years now I've bought all my dried mushrooms, vanilla beans and saffron from a great company with very reasonable prices, Vanilla Saffron in San Francisco. The mushrooms rehydrate beautifully in a bowl of hot water. Once they're rehydrated, I pluck them out of the water and pat them dry. I put a paper towel in a fine net sieve over a bowl and strain the liquid, saving it for flavoring in many things.


Getting back to the red sauce topic...I've been thinking lately of making the above pizza with some changes. Somewhere in the back of my mind I recall eating a "white" pizza and it goes something like this. Spread the dough in the pan, skip the red sauce and use 3 or 4 cheeses, grated or cut in fine slices. Put these on first followed by the herbs. I have no idea how long to cook it, since I don't want the herbs on top to brown. You could add some rehydrated, chopped porcini/cepes to it, maybe some green onion or chives in a fine dice. You might even try to whip up a cheesy b├ęchamel sauce as a base, if this seems too dry for you. Probably almost anything would work. I just remember it tasting incredible and so light and fresh. 
Which reminds me, I need to start looking for some herb plants for the potted garden. Buying little plastic packs of fresh herbs for $2-3.00 each makes me a wee bit crazy when I know how easy they are to grow!

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