Monday, 19 December 2011

Roasted mini-shiitake naan pizza

Eating seasonally and locally can be a challenge, especially in the late fall and winter when the number of fruits and vegetables to choose from drops from the plethora of options available in the summer. It is a challenge I love and it also helps to narrow down the choices for "what to make for dinner". I know that for the rest of the winter I will be making dishes with squash, potatoes, beets, carrots, asian greens, broccoli and apples. I keep my eye on the Vancouver farmers market website if I need a reminder of what my choices are.

My current favorite: shiitake mushrooms. On Saturday at the farmers market I scored the cutest little, baby shiitake which were only $4 for a pint. I mentioned in an earlier post that Mike and I stopped in Seattle on our way home from the Oregon Coast. We went to a pizza restaurant called Serious Pie. I had the roasted cremini and truffle cheese pizza. I usually do not put mushrooms on my pizzas because they are kind of boring raw. I didn't realize how much yummier it is to roast them first and then put them on a pizza. These little shiitakes I found at the market seemed like a perfect roasted mushroom pizza candidate.

On this occasion I did not feel like going through the lengthy pizza dough making process that I usually go through. Also, I am trying to stay healthy for the holidays and pizza is not the best choice for that goal. I decided to try little naan bread pizzas with whole wheat pastry flour to increase the nutritional value and to decrease the sheer bread volume that comes with pizza dough making. 

Naan bread is much faster to make because you do not need to let the bread rise. It just has to rest for 30 minutes which gives you time to prepare your ingredients. Also, it is a lot easier and faster to roll out, and because it is so thin it cooks really fast. My mini-naan pizzas turned out incredible, I think this will become my new go-to for pizza making. In this naan-bread recipe I used yogurt but in the past I have substituted almond milk (for a vegan alternative) and the naan still turns out great.

Roasted mini-shiitake mushroom naan pizza
Autumn seasonal: shiitake mushrooms and thyme
These are mini-pizzas, not deep dish pizzas, so go light on the toppings. I used a variety of cheeses to garnish my pizzas because I had many odds and ends in my fridge but you can choose just one. I also roasted squash, tomatoes, shallots and leeks and mixed and matched the ingredients to make other pizza variations (since I had 5 crusts). The details for preparing those toppings are below but my favorite was the simple roasted mushroom pizza described in detail here.

1/2 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup organic all purpose flour
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp yeast

1 pint mini-shiitake mushrooms (ore regular shiitakes, sliced)
Extra virgin olive oil (herb-infused if you have it)
2 garlic cloves minced
1 - 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt
Gruyere/gouda/comte cheese
Fresh bocconcini
Finely chopped sage leaves 

1 - Start by making naan bread dough. Mix together flour through yeast in a bread machine or in a bowl using your hands, but start with only half of the yogurt. 
2 - Keep adding yogurt until dough comes together into a sticky ball. Depending on the yogurt you use you may have to increase or decrease the amount of yogurt or flour.
3 - Let the dough rest, covered, while you roast the mushrooms.

4 - Preheat oven to 400 C with rack in middle of oven. I always have a baking stone in my oven but this is not necessary.
5 - Mix mushrooms with a tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, minced/mashed garlic, thyme leaves and sea salt.
6 - Roast mushrooms, turning once or twice for about 15 - 25 minutes
7 - If desired you can also roast other pizza toppings like tomatoes and shallots, squash, leeks (see below for some details).
8 - Grate cheeses, chop sage and get ready any other toppings you may want to use i.e. olives, sun-dried tomatoes.
9 - When mushrooms are done cooking, remove from oven. Raise oven rack and pizza stone to the top of the oven and increase temperature to 500F or higher if you can.
10 - Split naan dough into 5 small rounds. Cover and work with one at a time. 
11 - Using a generous amount of all purpose flour, roll out naan to be quite thin.
12 - Transfer naan to a floured baking sheet and top pizza: spread a thin layer of rosemary- or other herb infused extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle gruyere cheese, layer shiitake mushrooms, sprinkle on thyme, add dabs of bocconcini and finish with a little bit more gruyere and grated parmesan
13 - Bake pizza about 3 - 5 minutes; until edges are brown and cheese is bubbling.

Naan pizza ideas
To make my naan pizzas I made the 4 toppings described below and mixed and matched them with the roasted shiitakes described above to make the combinations below.

--> Leek, shiitake mushrooms and roasted tomato sauce pizza
--> Shiitake mushrooms, goat cheese, sage pizza
--> Leek, squash, sage and roasted tomato sauce pizza

Mix and match toppings
Roasted tomatoes, fresh thyme and shallots, blended
Roasted winter squash (i.e. red kuri, acorn, butternut, buttercup)
Sauteed leeks
Goat cheese

1 - A simple tomato topping for pizza can be made by roasting tomatoes with shallots. Chop 4 or 5 tomatoes (roma or on the vine ripened) into 4 pieces each, toss with 4 or 5 shallots cut into 4 wedges. Toss tomatoes and shallots with extra virgin olive oil, fresh chopped thyme or rosemary and sea salt. Roast at 300 F for about an hour. Remove from oven and let cool. If there is a lot of juice in the pan you can drain the tomatoes before blending roughly in a food processor.  
2 - To roast squash, preheat to 400F.  Cut squash into cubes. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, sugar or honey and cinnamon in a roasting pan. Roast about 30 minutes on a pizza stone in the middle of the oven.
3 - Leeks are another delicious pizza topping. Trim the green leaves and the end of the stem off of a large leek. Slice vertically along the middle of the leek and rinse the two halves well with water to remove trapped dirt. Cut leek roughly into pieces. In a pan on the stove, heat oil over medium low heat, add leeks and cook until soft.

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