Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tomato's last hurrah

I pulled out my tomato plants this week, looping them like spent Christmas lights over my elbow. After piling them in the compost, I went back and walked over the beds where they grew all summer, with my harvest basket, scapping up fallen cherry tomatoes. Walking dazed towards the sweet lullaby of October I may be, I wasn't ready to give up on fresh tomato-based meals just yet.

We've been making this pizza ALL summer. For crust, use the recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver:

3 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water 
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

The recipe makes enough for two ample crusts, which I love. I also love the partial whole-wheat character-- rustic but not too rustic.

Then, the truly amazing and mind-blowing sauce:

12 oz cherry tomatoes, stemmed
1 tbsp olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1/3 cup chopped basil leaves
1/2 tsp ground fennel seed
enough shredded mozzarella to cover, a little over 1 cup

Get the olive oil good and hot inside a cast-iron skillet, and toss the cherry tomatoes around in there until they blister and start to ooze. Then transfer them to a bowl, and mash them with the back of a spoon along with the garlic, basil, fennel, and a good sprinkling of salt.

Roll out the dough, spread out the sauce, top with cheese. Bake 20 minutes at 450 degrees, then lift off the baking pan using a pizza paddle and lay directly on the oven rack, as low as you can get over the element, for five minutes. That's optional, but it guarantees crisp crust.

Serve with green substance of your choice. We chose kale slaw.

There, now. Now it can be fall.

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