Sometimes it’s just gotta be quick and easy. Delicious dinner doesn’t have to mean a two hour cooking extravaganza. Of course it’s fun to cook your heart out, but on those days when you find yourself bone tired and you still have to make dinner, give yourself permission to create something simple and flavorful. Even if it means getting a little help from the freezer. I have yet to perfect a ‘from scratch’ pizza crust. It’s coming, but when you need something fast- a high quality frozen crust that can be decorated according to your taste is a huge help! Pair it with a fresh salad from your local CSA, and you’re good to go. The girls and I were on our own for a few days and we came up with this together. A little pizza, and a delightful farm-fresh strawberry spinach salad (Thanks for the awesome ingredients Farmer Jill!). It took about 35 minutes total and was deeply satisfying. Enjoy!
Easy Pizza (or bruschetta for the non-dairy folks)
1 8-inch frozen pizza crust (Udi’s is my favorite- I keep these on hand in the freezer for quick creative meals)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, chopped
4 large basil leaves, julienned (this is a fancy word for finely chopping in thin strips- place the leaves on top of each other, roll them up lengthwise and start slicing thinly. The result will be little thin strips!)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan- (optional)
1/2 cup shredded romano (optional)
olive oil for brushing
Pull the frozen crust out of the freezer and allow to thaw on a cutting board.
Take a pizza stone, other stoneware, or a stainless steel cookie sheet and place it on the top rack of the oven. Turn oven to 425 and allow to heat. This will heat the stone and allow the crust to cook from the top and the bottom, creating a crispy, bistro-style crust.
While the oven is heating, chop the garlic and tomato, shred whatever cheese you’d like to use, and julienne the basil.
When the crust is thawed- about 10-15 minutes- brush with olive oil. Sprinkle garlic, tomato and basil over the crust. If you are going non-dairy, I recommend combining the garlic, tomato and basil in a little bowl and drizzling a tiny bit of olive oil over the ingredients and gently blending. This will ensure that the ingredients don’t dry out in the oven.
Sprinkle the cheese on top. When the oven is ready, take the pizza- either on the cutting board or by hand- and gently slide it onto the hot pizza stone. Pull the pizza from the oven when the cheese is bubbly and is just starting to turn golden- about 15 minutes. If you’re cooking without cheese, look to see if the tomatoes are bubbling and the edge of the crust is turning golden- about 10-15 minutes.
While you’re waiting for the pizza to cook, make this colorful and delicious salad.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
4 cups fresh spinach, washed and stemmed (meaning the stems have been removed)
1 lb fresh strawberries, cleaned and diced
1/3 cup fresh goat cheese- crumbled
2-3 tbs olive oil
2-3 tbs balsamic vinegar
Once spinach has been washed and stemmed, rip into bite-sized pieces and place in a serving bowl. Drizzle olive oil over leaves and toss until leaves are evenly and lightly coated. I confess I eyeball this. The leaves should glisten, and if you pop one in your mouth you should just be able to taste the olive oil flavor, but the leaves should not feel oily, nor should there be a pool of oil in the bottom of the serving bowl. If you do this enough, you’ll be able to eyeball it too.
For a lovely presentation, add chopped strawberries to the top of the spinach and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Crumble goat cheese on top of the strawberries. Again, if you’re non-dairy, leave out the goat-cheese and add a little pepper. I’m a cheese head and put cheese on just about everything, but that doesn’t mean you have to!
Serve with pizza and voilà- easy, beautiful, delicious dinner!
Remember, use whatever ingredients you have on hand- out of tomatoes? Use olives or peppers. Don’t have strawberries? Use citrus, other berries, pears or apples!