CSA Week 6, and Zucchini, Basil & Goat Cheese Pizza
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have to say again this week: more surprises in our CSA share! But I suppose my delight at the changing produce in our share each week gets right to the heart of what I love about eating seasonally: especially during the summer, every few weeks there’s a new vegetable or fruit to revel in, to welcome back into your mouth and belly after having waited since last year to taste it again. It’s easy to get excited about zucchini, for instance, when I haven’t tasted one since last summer — memories of too! much! zucchini! are long gone, and the taste is like an old friend, come back to stay for a little while once again.
Our CSA share last week included: zucchini, yellow squash, purple kohlrabi, broccoli, garlic, napa cabbage (love this kind of cabbage), field greens, scallions, a cucumber, and collards.
And in our fruit share: a doozy! Sweet cherries and black currants – which I was super excited to see, and taste, having never had them before! They’re like tiny, inky purple-black jewels, bursting with tart flavor. There’s a great article on black currants in the Summer issue of Edible Finger Lakes — which just came out! — and I was really interested to read that for over 50 years, there was a federal law banning them from being grown (as some older cultivars were hosts to white pine blister rust), with New York only lifting the ban in 2003. I haven’t decided yet what I’d like to do with them: maybe make jam, or I’m toying with the idea of a tart, with a layer of jammy black currants covering a creamy custard base. I also have a whole duck, for roasting, in my freezer and I’m thinking the currants could be part of a terrific sauce for it. If anyone has a way they like to use black currants, please let me know in the comments!
While my gears still turn on the currants, let’s talk about zucchini: specifically, as a topping for pizza. I love zucchini paired with basil — something about that flavor combination really works! — and the pair also goes fantastically well with goat cheese. So zucchini, summer squash, basil and goat cheese were the focus of our pizza last Friday, and wow, was it a hit!
One of the things I’ve learned through trial and error in our years of Friday night pizzas is that many vegetable toppings are even better when they’re cooked a bit before being laid on top of the pizza. This rule doesn’t necessarily apply in all situations — thinly sliced mushrooms or peppers take kindly to being scattered across a pizza before baking in their raw state — but things like dark leafy greens and summer squash taste so much better when you’ve cooked them just a bit, separately, before using them as a topping. For raw zucchini and summer squash, at least, the heat of the oven isn’t enough to cook them enough before the pizza’s done, so you end up with a pizza topped with half-cooked, bland, steamed versions of what the vegetables really could be.
So an easy solution: grill or roast your thin slices of zucchini and summer squash before topping your pizza. The flavor is so much more pronounced, and it doesn’t take that much extra prep time (you can grill or roast a bunch up in advance, or while you’re prepping the other ingredients for the pizza.)
I made this as a white pizza, and the layers went as follows: a little shredded mozzarella and cheddar, just enough to cover the crust; 1 clove of minced garlic; a shake of hot pepper flakes; slices of roasted zucchini and summer squash; torn basil leaves, then crumbles of fresh local goat cheese to top it off.
Zucchini, Basil & Goat Cheese Pizza
an Eggs on Sunday original
view printable recipe
1 lb. pizza dough (my favorite recipe or yours)
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
a pinch of hot pepper flakes
a small handful of basil leaves, torn or thinly sliced into chiffonade
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 ounces fresh goat cheese
If you’re roasting the squash, preheat the oven to 425. Lay the slices of squash out on a sheet pan, brush them with olive oil on both sides, and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast until the bottoms are brown, then flip and continue roasting until the tops have started to brown as well. This usually takes me about 20 minutes total. (Alternatively, you can grill the squash.) Set aside.
When you’re ready to make the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, preferably with a baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven. Roll out your pizza dough onto a peel or the back of a sheet pan (dust the peel or sheet pan with flour or cornmeal first, or you can roll the dough out onto parchment first before transferring it to the stone.) Top with the shredded cheeses, then the garlic, hot pepper flakes, roasted/grilled squash slices, torn basil leaves, and crumbled goat cheese.
Bake pizza until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, about 8-10 minutes.