Friday, July 02, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Flatbread...

Let me start out this post with a bit of a confession... while today is Friday Pizza Night and I do have a pizza to share, we didn't make it this evening. We had picked up a few stunning heirloom tomatoes at the farmers' market last Saturday and it wouldn't have been right to let them just sit around until today to use them. Instead, we decided to go ahead and prepare this Heirloom Tomato Flatbread with Goat Cheese that night, even though we just had that Apricot and Prosciutto Pizza the day before!

You'll need about a pound of dough for the base, whether it be freshly made at home using our favorite whole-wheat pizza dough, a pouch you grabbed at the market on the way home or even a ball of dough from your local pizza joint. To give the bottom of the crust a rough bite, we stretched the submissive dough on a dusting of cornmeal, shaping it into a rectangle slightly larger than a jelly-roll pan. If you're not a fan of the crunch it adds, all-purpose flour works too - just use enough to keep the dough from sticking. To make sure all the ingredients are contained (and besides the fact it wouldn't fit on our pizza stone in this shape anyway), the dough was then slid onto a baking sheet and pressed into the corners for a snug fit.

Why not just plop the dough into the pan and shape it right into place to begin with? I thought the same, but found it was easier stretching (and keeping it at an even thickness) the dough on the counter, rather than dealing with the confinement of the pan - do whichever method works best for you. To give the dough a bit of heft and chew, the pan was covered and left to rest until it became very puffy and almost doubled in size.

While the dough took a break, we didn't - the toppings needed time and attention before they were ready to add on top. The colorful fresh tomatoes are fairly juicy and while that is useful in other recipes, it would wreak havoc on pizza, most likely making for a soggy, drenched crust. However, we still wanted them to keep their sleek, beautiful form in slices... rather than squishing or squeezing out their juices, we laid the rounds on a few layers of paper towels (along with a few more on top) to let them drain. While the tomatoes drain, be sure to give them a loving press once in awhile to help the process along - by the time the dough is ready, enough liquid will have been absorbed by the paper towels.

With the tomatoes arranged on top of the risen dough, we followed them up with a generous helping of creamy goat cheese crumbles and a light sprinkling of salt and fresh ground black pepper. Baked to crisp the crust and give a golden hue to the tangy cheese, once the pizza was done, we took the slab out of its metal carriage and let it cool briefly before adding the final touches - fresh chives, parsley, small whole basil leaves and an extravagant drizzle from a bottle of quality extra-virgin olive oil.
Would this still be as good with regular tomatoes? I think so, as long as they are fresh and in-season, since much of the flavor of this pizza is banked on what you use on top - I wouldn't make this in the middle of winter. Jeff questioned the indulgent olive oil drizzle as a condiment at first, but we found its fruity notes were able to compliment and lift the tomatoes more when added as is, rather than baked into the crust with a blase of heat. And for those wondering, we did still have pizza tonight, though it wasn't a new recipe - we had those Individual Ham and Egg Pizzas again, using prosciutto instead of the ham.