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I’m tired.  Like, it’s not even 8 and I am ready to go to bed.  However, because I love everyone so much and, well, mostly because I love this pizza so much, I am staying up to write this post.  So if I start rambling and then switch to something else completely unrelated (which I actually do more often than not), don’t panic.  It’s because I’m lost in my many thoughts and probably half sleeping and dreaming.          

Anyway… the story behind this pizza is the following:  A couple Friday’s ago, we went the First Friday Food Truck Festival downtown Indy.  We hadn’t been before, but I heard great things about it and the cupcake truck from the bakery I work at was going to be there.  Plus, I got free admission passes, so it was pretty much a done deal that we were going.  I was craving pizza that night and was planning on getting a certain slice of New York style pizza, however, the truck wasn’t there!  So as we walked past all of the 20 some food trucks, I saw a grilled pizza one!  And even though they only had 3 or 4 options to choose from, I was sold when I saw the “specialty pizza”.  It had everything I could have ever wanted on pizza.  And it was grilled.  Pesto, artichokes, tomato, ricotta, mozzarella, and spinach.  Rack em up!  If only I bought an entire pizza.  That would have been nice.  However, I had to save room for the nachos and bites of Brad’s tacos and his no-bake cookies and the banana pudding… yea, an entire pizza wouldn’t have made sense.

Ok, so come Sunday, I was trying to come up with dinner ideas and I knew pretty much instantly that I was going to recreate that delicious slice of pizza.  It actually almost didn’t happen though.  I had forgotten that I had to make both pizza dough and pesto.  How I forgot that, I do not know, but I started all of this a little late, but that’s ok.  As long as I was going to get to eat my pizza, I was going to survive.          

Now, let me tell you… this pizza is just incredible.  It’s so delicious and so different.  It has so much going on that you might think there’s too much, but somehow it all works so well together that you don’t even realize there are 6 toppings.  For me, the pesto is what brings the whole thing together.  I like pesto, but I don’t entirely love pesto.  So I tried to go a little light on it.  I accidentally added a little too much basil when I made the pesto and I forgot to add garlic (I guess I was really struggling that day), but overall, it did what it was supposed to do and when it was on the pizza, I couldn’t really tell that I messed it up.

This pizza is perfect for the summer.  You could grill it outside on your grill, or just bake it in the oven on a pizza stone (our choice, we never have good luck cooking directly on the grill).  It’s great for all those extra tomatoes you have growing in your garden that you can’t use for salsa anymore because you already have 3 containers of it.  You can use store bought pesto and it will work perfectly.  I made mine because my mom had given me a ton of basil from her garden and she gave me some pine nuts too.  I skipped the ricotta cheese when I made my pizza only because last time I tried putting ricotta pizza, it didn’t work very well.  I think that’s just one of those things that only works when other people do it… for me anyway.  This is a really fresh pizza and it’s even fresher if you use… well… fresh veggies.  I’m not sure what else to say, I feel like all I’m doing is telling you how awesome this pizza is but really, you just have to make it to fully understand.

Ok… it’s bedtime now!

GARDEN VEGGIE PIZZA
Idea taken from Bryne’s Grilled Pizza Food Truck in Indy!

For the Pizza Dough: (word for word from Eat, Live, Run)
Makes 2 pizzas
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 package of yeast (1/4th ounce)
2 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl, combine the warm water and yeast.

Stir in the salt and flour and mix on medium high speed on your KitchenAid for 5 minutes. While the mixer is going, drizzle in the olive oil.

When the dough is soft and elastic, take out of the bowl, rub with olive oil and then place back in the bowl, cover with a dish towel and let rise for one hour.

After the dough has doubled in size, cut in half to make two large pizza doughs or make mini doughs. You could also do what I like to do and freeze the dough in a plastic baggie for another time! When you are ready for your pizza, roll out the dough, cover with your toppings and bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes.

For the Pesto: (again, word for word from Eat, Live, Run I actually didn’t use a recipe I just threw a bunch of stuff in the food processor, but I think this looks like one of the better recipes I researched)
3 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves

Combine the basil, garlic and two tablespoons of the oil in a high speed blender or food processor. Blend on high until everything is smooth and combined. Then, with the blender on low speed, slowly stream in the remaining oil, along with the lemon juice and the cheese. Taste and then season with the salt and pepper.

To Make the Actual Pizza:
Makes 1 pizza

1/2 of the pizza dough recipe above
2-3 tablespoons of pesto, either homemade or store bought
1 tomato, thinly sliced
Handful of spinach leaves, stems removed and rinsed
1/2 can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 red pepper, roasted in the oven for a few minutes
1/2 green pepper, roasted in the oven for a few minutes (I thought there were peppers on the original pizza, but their menu doesn’t mention it.  I thought they were good on the pizza)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 Fresh mozzarella balls, sliced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Ok… Now that the list is complete… assemble!  Roll out your pizza dough, or mash it down with your fingertips to get a thicker crust.  Bake in the oven for about 5 minutes until the crust is cooked enough to handle ( I like to do this because then the crust is crispier).  When the crust is out of the oven, spread the pesto over the whole thing and sprinkle with just a little of garlic powder.  Then top with tomatoes, artichokes, spinach, peppers, mozzarella and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.  Pop back in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is browned and then cheese is melted.

Warning: this can get soggy with the tomatoes being so juicy and the fresh mozzarella.  It definitely is soggy when it’s leftover.  So just be aware of that.  Other than that, it’s quite a yummy pizza!!

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I need a nap.  No, seriously, I need a nap.  It’s 3:30 on Saturday afternoon and that is usually my nap time.  Instead, I’m laying on the couch writing this post because I feel so bad that it has, once again, been a few days since I’ve graced you guys with my awesomeness.  (Sorry, I went a little overboard, I can’t help it)

We’ve been running all around the surrounding areas of Indianapolis today.  We started 8:30 this morning in Zionsville for their farmer’s market (which I can’t wait to make dinner with the ingredients I got there and even more, I can’t wait to share it with you!), then the wine store, then ran to my work to show everyone the puppy (Cash went with us this morning, he was quite a hit), then to my parents to ride on their new Vespa scooter, then home, then lunch, Petco, Party City and then finally, the grocery store for some milk and cream for dinner.  What!?  It’s ridiculous how much we end up doing with our free days.  Running errands takes so much time.  But it’s been a fun day so far and it’s going to get so much better with what I’m making for dinner.

Speaking of dinner…

Last week I made this incredibly, wonderfully, delicious pasta and tomato sauce.  I’ve made it about 3 times before and every time I eat it, I fall more in love with it.

Now, I’ve never been out of the country.  Oh wait, yes I have, I’ve been to Mexico… but I’ve never been to Europe.  I so desperately want to go to France and Italy one day and it’s because of the food.  I can guarantee when we go, I’ll probably gain a good 10 pounds because all I will do is eat.  Anyway… the point of me saying all of this is that this pasta is what I would imagine you would find in France or Italy.

It’s so simple, has so few ingredients but tastes so fresh and is so unbearably good.  It’s not your jarred tomato sauce or sauce that you make with canned tomatoes… Nope.  This is FRESH tomato sauce.  With whole tomatoes (from our farmstand-style market), garlic, basil and olive oil (and a pad or two of butter, just for good measure).  I think you should be warned that this dish has serious potential to blow your mind.

I’m not kidding.

(I have the prettiest pans ever ^)

While it’s not the quickest meal to make, if you set aside the time to make it, you will forever thank yourself.  There’s nothing technical about it, but I will tell you… there’s a lot of dish washing.  Blah.  But again, it’s worth it.  Just trust me.  If you have never had fresh tomato sauce (which I’ll admit, I hadn’t before finding this recipe.  I usually used canned tomatoes) this is a serious must-make recipe.  I couldn’t believe that I had been missing out for long.

Don’t even bother sending me Thank You notes.  You’ll be too busy scarfing this pasta down.  I understand, don’t worry.

Naked Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen with pretty much no changes at all. 

3 pounds of Roma or plum tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Small handful of basil leaves (I used about 6), some left whole, some sliced for garnish
1/4 cup olive oil
12 ounces of pasta (I recommend NOT using whole wheat pasta.  It just doesn’t work well with this.  You need the real, good stuff)
1 or 2 tablespoons of butter (please, whatever you do, don’t skip this part)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cut an “X” at the bottom of each tomato.  Blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10-30 seconds (I definitely had to go on the longer side).  When the skin starts to peel away at the X, spoon them out and either rinse under cold water or shock them in ice water.  Peel the skins away and discard.  You can use the leftover water to cook the pasta in, however, mine had a lot of tomato bits in it so I dumped it.

Cut each tomato in half and spoon out all the seeds and put in a strainer over a bowl.  Discard the seeds, keep the juices though.

Add tomatoes and salt to a large saucepan over medium heat.  Mash the tomatoes with a potato masher, or by hand to get the preferred consistency of the sauce.  You can always mash more later.

Bring the sauce to a boil, once that happens bring the temp back done and let it simmer for a good 35-45 minutes.  If the sauce looks a little dry, add some of the reserved tomato juices.

In the meantime, in a small sauce pan over the lowest possible heat, pour in the olive oil, garlic and basil leaves.  Heat until it all comes to a simmer.  Remove the basil leaves and the garlic and set aside.

Once the tomato sauce has been simmering for a good 25 minutes, start cooking your pasta to the packages directions.  Once it’s cooked, drain the pasta, but save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water in case you need it later.

Once the sauce has been simmering for 35-45 minutes and is the consistency you would like, stir in the olive oil and pasta.  Let that simmer for just a couple minutes, adding the pasta water if you feel necessary.  At the last minute add the butter and give it one last stir.  Serve immediately with the sliced basil for garnish (I skipped this).  This tastes just as good the next day for lunch too!



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