Arugula pizza!

A couple of weeks ago, Chef Nick posted some culinary reviews and photos from his recent trip to New York. One thing in particular stuck with me – a description of the arugula pizza from Luzzo’s on 1st Avenue in Manhattan, which he followed up with a photo.

Saturday was pizza day at chez nous, so I checked Nick’s description again and went shopping for the proper ingredients. (Tip: tread lightly when you go into your friendly neighbourhood Italian charcuterie and say “give me your best prosciutto!” At $60 per kilo, it gets pricey!)

As usual, we started with a pizza Margherita – zen-like in its delicious simplicity. That worked out quite well, so I was psyched to try the arugula pie.

I stretched out the second dough and spread it with my home-made sauce – a simple sauce of San Marzano tomatoes, a pinch of salt, a small scattering of basil, and a touch of garlic. I let it cook for no more than five minutes, and when it cools down I pour in a big slug of extra virgin olive oil.

Then I scattered on a handful of grated Friulano cheese (not too much), then some chunks of fresh mozzarella. I slid the pie into the oven (hot as I can make it; 550° F) and sat back to watch. The dough rose instantly and things in the middle were bubbling madly. When using a well-heated pizza stone, it takes only about six minutes to make a pizza in a 550° oven, so I had to be vigilant. When it was almost done, I pulled the pie out, scattered on some torn strips of prosciutto, and put it back in the oven for another minute.

Then I pulled the pie out of the oven and scattered a bunch of raw baby arugula across the top, followed by a handful of shaved parmiggiano cheese. The idea is that you don’t want to cook those last two ingredients, but the heat from the pizza warms them and releases their delicious aromas.

Here it is:

pizzaNot bad for a first attempt. It even looks a bit like Luzzo’s except that it’s way smaller and not so uniformly round. (My pizzas almost always take an odd shape.) It uses pretty much the same ingredients, except for the Friulano, which was my idea (I’ve used it before – it mixes nicely with mozz.)

And it tasted great! What an interesting combination of flavors. I will definitely make this one again. Thanks to Chef Nick and Luzzo’s for the inspiration!

11 thoughts on “Arugula pizza!

  1. Blork,

    Awesome!!! I made pizza last week freshly inspired from my Luzzo’s visit and somehow I was infected with their knowledge, because the pizzas turned out great! (I glommed a seriously great trick from this blog.)

    The only reason I didn’t do the arugula was because when I showed my 5-year-old son the picture I’d taken of the Arugula that night he said “Those green things were yucky, Daddy! Were they weeds?”

    Yes, son, mighty tasty weeds! Your effort looks pretty damned close; I shall have to remind myself to invite me over to dinner on your next pizza night.

  2. I read that “broiled pizza” hack as well, and I’m integrating it into my method. I don’t go as far as using an inverted iron frying pan as a stone, but I’m experimenting with bringing the oven up to temperature with the regular elements, then switching to the broiler when I’m about to put the pie in the oven. The oven stays at temperature, and the stone does its job the same way, but you have the added advantage of direct heat coming from above.

    I will report more as the experiments continue.

  3. My favorite arugula Pizza comes from Terroni in Toronto. The restaurant is owned by southern Italians and serves some classic, rustic Italian snacks. My favorite are the toasts: two thinly sliced pieces of white bread with ham and cheese, grilled. I was amazed when I had this as it tasted exactly the same as when I had it in Parma 16 (yikes) years ago. Anyhow, when you walk in Teroni it feels like Italy and the food tastes as close to the real thing as I’ve experienced in North America.

    Terroni’s arugula pizza ‘Li Pecuri’ was one of my splurges when I was young and broke. Their version starts with a basic margherita pizza (minus the basil) and they add a combo of mozzarella and goat cheese with sun dried tomatoes, arugula and parmigiano reggiano. Mmmm…just talking about it now makes me miss it.

  4. You shouldn’t be cooking your pizza sauce. Big no-no. Other than that it sounds great. Now just start working on the wood fired oven in your back yard.

  5. Mmmm. That Terroni’s pizza sounds great!

    Gideon, I know that some people don’t cook it, and some do. I compromise by *barely* cooking it.

    Although in retrospect, with the San Marzanos I probably should have gone raw.

    OK, I’ve decided: next time I go raw.

  6. There is a CNY beer out of Ithaca that tastes like arugula – Ithaca Beer Co. Flower Power.

  7. I’ve been using a 12″ or so pizza peel–not enough for my dream pizza (I buy the frozen dough from Pain Doré–can’t be bothered these days to make it myself.) So when I went to enter “pizza peel” in eBay’s search engine, I came up with the one at Super Peel. I’m a shameless kitchen gadget fanatic, but this time I really think I’ve struck gold. No more misshapen pizzas! And I can make one giant 14″ instead of two 10s! Arugula special here I come.

    With Friulano . . . and truffle oil.

  8. That “super peel” certainly looks interesting!

    I’ve got a 14″ peel, which is great. But my stone is only 12 inches (specifically, a 12×18 inch rectangle). So I get this nice 12 or 14 inch round pizza on the peel, always forgetting that the stone is smaller, and I always end up scrunching it when I put it in the oven.

  9. After watching that Luzzo’s dude spin that perfectly round pie, I despair. But it sure doesn’t help when your oven only goes back 18″. My present stone is only around 14″ so it’s not optimal when I try to deposit a pie that’s around 14″ precariously in the blazing oven, laden with toppings. Disaster is only seconds away, usually.

    I have that kinda stupid kitchen gadget, the Hearthkit, so I’m thinking of shanghaiing the bottom part as a massive pizza stone with my next effort.

    Will report with pics and maybe video when I decide to make the Arugula.

    Friulano. Shall have to find some.

  10. […] in the event of a disaster, I whipped up a couple of antipasto plates of prosciutto (leftover from Saturday’s pizza adventure), some nice old Cheddar cheese, some spicy sun-dried tomato and olive tapenade, some white […]

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