Roasted Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Pizza
Roasting is a great way to introduce the sweet element into a sweet and savory dish. By cooking vegetables or fruit low and slow, you're caramelizing the juices and extracting moisture, thus concentrating the flavor.
Tomatoes are fanastic right now. Let me repeat, tomatoes are the candy of summer and you should find all opportunities to put them in your mouth.
A couple of weeks ago, I had some beautiful tomatoes sitting on the counter that were close to their demise. In such situations my solution is to roast the food and then figure out a recipe later. The great thing about roasted vegetables and fruit is they can usually be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. On this occasion, I added a head of garlic and three red onions figuring I would make pizza of some sort.
I already had an heirloom tomato and herb goat cheese recipe, but the crust didn't always crisp up right because the tomatoes weren't roasted. Once you introduce tomatoes to any form of salt it's a big wet mess. Roasting is a easy way to get the flavor but avoid the moisture. If high ion concentration and cellular walls are your thing, here's an article you might like on salting vegetables.
I did my best with measurements in this recipe but not everything is exact. Pizza is excellent because you can play with ingredient portions without doing too much damage to the final product. Go crazy.
Heirloom tomatoes at Tutti Frutti Farms - Santa Monica Farmers Market
- 1 ball of pizza dough Note: Buying dough from a pizzeria makes this meal easy enough for a weeknight, or you can try Nancy Silverton's pizza dough recipe.
- 10 medium heirloom tomatoes Note: The picture above is of Early Girl tomatoes from Peacock Family Farms, but for this recipe I used Cherokee heirlooms from Tutti Frutti. Also, if you have leftovers they're excellent for bruschetta, eggs, or a quick pasta lunch.
- 1 large head of garlic
- 3 medium red onions
- 1/2 cup goat cheese (approx - to taste)
- 16 oz mozzarella
- Parmesan block for shaving
- 10-14 sprigs of thyme
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat to 350.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then lay a piece of parchment paper on top of that. Note: The parchment paper is important. Roasted tomatoes are delicate and even with olive oil they stick to foil.
- Slice about 1/4 inch off the end of your garlic (not the root end). It should look like this. Leave the skin on to hold the cloves together, rub the garlic with olive oil to prevent burning, and then seal it up in aluminum foil.
- Thinly slice the red onion.
- Slice your tomatoes.
- Transfer the tomatoes to the baking sheet and make sure they're in a single layer, leaving room on one side for the onions. Note: Since I usually roast extra tomatoes everything doesn't fit on the pan. If you don't have room for the red onions just put them on a separate baking sheet and adjust your oven racks accordingly.
- Drizzle a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil over the tomatoes and red onions. I use my hands to spread the oil around, flipping the tomatoes to get both sides covered. Same goes for the red onions. Note: Don't be shy with this step. At the end of roasting you'll have some delicious olive oil that's infused with thyme and tomatoes - perfect for homemade vinaigrette.
- Pour some olive oil on the thyme. This will keep it from drying out too much.
- Scatter the thyme over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the red onion and tomatoes with kosher salt and fresh black pepper.
- Roast the tomatoes, red onion, and garlic for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Check on things periodically to see if anything needs to come out. I find that the tomatoes and onions usually finish around the same time. Your tomatoes should be wrinkly and dehydrated (but not burned) and the red onions should be caramelized.
- This is the point at which you can stop and put everything in the refrigerator. I often roast the veggies/fruit and then make my pizza the following day.
Finishing the Toppings
- When the garlic is cool gently press the cloves out of their skin. Mash with a fork and set aside.
- Mince some fresh thyme and add about 1 teaspoon to the goat cheese. Mash with a fork and set aside.
- Slice the mozzarella into 1/4 - 1/3 inch pieces.
- Make a basil chiffonade.
Make the pizza!
- Preheat oven to 475, then move your oven rack and pizza stone (if using) to the lowest position.
- Stretch the dough. If you want to read about stretching dough and see a quick video visit this page.
- Brush dough lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Getting the dough/pizza in and out of the oven can be tricky. If you're using a baking sheet you can simply stretch the dough, put it right on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and then pop it in the oven. If you're using a pizza stone (the preferable cooking surface), flip your baking sheet over, lay a piece of parchment on top, stretch the dough, and then carefully slide the parchment and dough onto the stone. The baking sheet helps you guide everything into place.
- Smear the mashed garlic on the pre-baked dough.
- Add mozzarella, shaved parmesan, tomatoes, red onion, and then finish with goat cheese. Note: I think of parmesan as a salt element so the more I add the less salt I use. This goes for any dish that includes parmesan or salty cheese.
- Melt the butter in the microwave and then add some olive oil (roughly 50/50). Brush the edges of your pizza with the mixture.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Note: When it comes to salt most recipes suggest too little. If you don't have health reasons to limit your sodium intake this is a good article on why salt/seasoning matters. "Correct seasoning, to a chef, is as much salt as you can get into the dish without it tasting too salty." True that.
- Slide into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. You want the crust to be nicely browned and the toppings to bubble.
- Remove the pizza, let it rest for a few minutes, then slice. Sprinkle with basil before serving and enjoy with some red wine if you're so inclined.