Sometime around two years ago, S and I discovered the joy that is pizza covered in Arugula, and we have never looked back. Whole handfuls of it heaped on top like grassy hills, completely obscuring from view the bobbling hot greasy toppings below, the bottom layer wilting into the hot cheese a bit while the top layer stays fresh and crisp, this is my pizza heaven. We've tried several variations on the arugula pizza, with toppings ranging from gorgonzola, to red onion, to fig, but this is our favourite.
This pizza is utterly perfect, but I do have two confessions- I use store bought dough. Not prebaked, just a bag of dough. I love the whole foods multigrain, but if you want to go totally homemade, this is a great recipe, from Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan St. Baking Company, and the pizza-haven known as Co.
The other confession is evident in the first photo- I don't own a pizza stone, or even a pizza pan. I use a jelly roll style cookie pan. This is Manhattan after all, my pan storage is very limited. And my pizza is delicious, so feel free to improvise on the pan.
Preheat the oven while cooking some bacon. I used five thick maple-cured strips, but pepper bacon would also be delicious with this recipe.
While your bacon cooks chop 3 large shallots into little rings or half moons. You could also use sweet yellow onion for this.
Fry the shallots in the bacon fat. In fact, whenever possible fry things in bacon fat.
Cook the shallots over medium-low heat until they are a lovely golden-brown. I like mine to retain some crispness, but you can fully caramelize them if you're not a fan of onions to begin with just cook them longer, until they're a darker golden color and very soft.
While the shallots cook combine your olive oil, garlic, and some salt and pepper in a heat safe bowl and set it on your stove top, not too near to a lit burner, to warm up and release the garlic flavor.
Spread your dough. Since I have a square pan this is mostly just about careful stretching for me.
Brush with your garlic-olive oil sauce
Cover it well, but not too thickly, I like to leave my crusts bare.
Cover with the fresh mozz. I used smoked mozz because I love just about anything smoked.
Cover the cheese with shallots, then with bacon. Start to salivate with desire as you pop it in the oven.
Look at that. Oh gosh. I want to make another one tonight. Or right now.
Gratuitously heap Arugula and fresh pepper on top immediately after removing from the oven. Let it sit a few minutes, if you can bear it. Then feast.
Caramelized Shallot and Bacon Pizza with Arugula Recipe:
1 Pizza Dough (store bought or homemade)
5 Strips of bacon
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 lb Mozzarella (fresh if possible), grated or shredded
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
2-3 Cups loose Arugula rinsed and dried
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 475º F, and open bag of pizza dough to let rise 30 min near preheating oven, or in other warm place, (or follow rising directions on your pizza dough).
Cook bacon over medium heat until crispy, set aside. While bacon cooks, chop shallots into small rings or half moons, depending on shallot shape. Drain all but 2 tbsp bacon fat, add shallots to pan, and cook over medium-low heat until shallots turn deep golden brown and are fairly soft, about 5 minutes.
While shallots cook, combine olive oil, garlic, and some fresh pepper in a heat proof bowl and place on or near stove top, so the heat from the oven will help release the garlic flavor.
After dough has risen, stretch to fit pan. Since I have a square pan, I find it fairly easy to stretch the dough out as long as the pan and then pull it wider, but there are lots of guides for circular pizza stretching on the internet. Brush stretched dough with garlic-olive oil combo, spreading out the chunks of garlic throughout. Top with mozzarella, shallots, then bacon, and bake in thoroughly preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling.
As soon as you remove the pizza from the oven, heap lots of arugula on top, completely covering the pizza. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, if you can bear to wait that long, then consume with gusto.
Fresh mozzarella- the type that is wet feeling when you unwrap it, and frequently comes in water, is ideal for this recipe, but the drier, more aged, squarer mozzarellas will work as well if you can't find fresh.
Shallots are delicious and perfect for this, but sweet yellow onion would work well too.
You could certainly sub out the bacon for lardo or pancetta.