I can imagine eating this pizza at a trendy modern Italian restaurant with high ceilings and fun drinkware. It's simple and relatable, yet it's also new and surprising. When you take a bite, you experience each element, first separately, and then together.
The first flavor I taste is lemon zest. Then I notice the crunch, then the heat. As I chew, all of these elements become one. It's spicy, but not enough to make you reach for your drink, and just spicy enough to leave you craving more. And since most of the spicy chili oil is served on the side, each person can adjust the heat to match their palate.
Elements of an excellent white pizza
The Ricotta Mixture
A rule of thumb when cooking, most of the time, is to season each element of the dish. There are some exceptions to this rule, but pizza is not one of them.
Since ricotta is one of the main ingredients in this pizza, and is also a fairly mild creamy ingredient, it is absolutely imperative that it is well-seasoned and delicious. Adding lemon juice and zest, along with nutmeg, black pepper, herbs, and parmesan cheese helps to create a more flavorful cheese mixture that could stand alone as a dip or spread if it had to.
The crust is the second most important part of the pizza-eating experience, and even store-bought dough can be made into a delicious crunchy vessel if cooked properly. I like to use a fairly high temperature- 450F, which helps the bottom of the pizza, which is coated in olive oil, to crisp nicely.
You need both the high temperature and the olive oil to create this crunch when using a sheet pan to make pizza. It's as if you're frying the bottom side of the dough. 450F is hot enough to do this without burning the pizza.
Instead of the usual dusting of crushed red pepper flakes, you know the ones in the clear plump jar with the metal shaker top, this pizza gets its spice from a delicious Calabrian chili pepper oil, which is made by combining jarred Calabrian chili peppers with lemon and olive oil. The spice is perfect, and the color is truly gorgeous.
Calabrian Chili Peppers
I wrote about Calabrian chili peppers in a recent post, which provided 7 Ways to use Calabrian Chili Peppers in Everyday Cooking. You can add this pizza to the list.
I also highly recommend Trader Joe's "Italian Bomba Sauce. Bomba is simply an Italian style sauce made from fermented vegetables, in this case, Calabrian chili peppers that are then packed in olive oil. Fermentation gives the peppers, and therefore your whole pizza, deeper flavor.
- Stretch the dough rather than rolling it. You'll be more successful with getting it as big as you want it, plus it will stay nice and tender rather than getting tough in the center.
- Cut the pizza with scissors. I mean, you can use a pizza cutter too, but if you don't have one, kitchen shears work incredibly well, if not better than a pizza cutter.
- Cut the pizza in all different directions for some square, some triangle, and some middle pieces. The haphazardness of it is endearing and is sure to please everyone's tastes.
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