I am glad I waited until the weekend because this one took a while: peach pizza with made-from-scratch ricotta cheese and cinnamon pizza crust.
First up was the crust. Using the Valentino’s Pizza Crust recipe from allrecipes.com, stir one packet (1/4 ounce) of rapid-rise yeast into once cup of warm water. Allow the yeast to dissolve for a few minutes while whisking together 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the water and dissolved yeast into the well. Add about two tablespoons of olive oil to the mixture and stir until combined. Form the dough into a ball, coat it with olive oil, and let it sit covered with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel while the other ingredients receive attention.
Next up was the ricotta cheese. The recipe for ricotta is pretty much the same everywhere, but I will credit the pizza feature in my most recent Country Living magazine for making it jump to mind. Bring 1/2 gallon of whole milk and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil. Reduce the boil to a simmer and add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice (I used the juice from two lemons). Stir the milk mixture about one minute until curds form, then use a small colander or slotted spoon to transfer the curds to a large colander lined with cheese cloth. The large colander should sit above a large bowl that will catch the draining liquid. Allow the curds to drain and wah lah: fresh, creamy, delicious ricotta cheese.
Finally, it was time to roll out the crust and assemble the pizza. I uncovered the dough, gave it a gentle punch or two, and rolled in out into a greased and floured 11 x 17 jelly roll pan. Any type of flat pan, sheet or pizza stone you have on hand is by all means acceptable. Very finely chopped peaches will act as the sauce. It is a good idea to allow the chopped peaches to drain on a paper towel for a few moments to avoid an overly watery pizza. Top the sauce with sliced peaches, onions, sausage, ricotta cheese, cilantro, and cinnamon. Pop it in the oven at 375 degrees, and wait just a few moments for your lunch, dinner or a delicious snack to bake.
The pizza was superb. The crust baked up like a thick, soft pillow, and the toppings had just the right amount of sweet and savory for my tastes. In regards to the ricotta cheese, my initial uncertainty quickly gave way to the a) ease of the process and b) the delicious taste of fresh, rich, creamy ricotta cheese. I hope to never buy the devoid of taste ricotta that lives in plastic tubs in the dairy section again.
While the pizza bakes, you can use any leftover pizza crust to make cinnamon and sugar bread sticks (or knots, if those are a preferred shape). Brush the remaining dough with butter, roll it in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, cut in thin strips and twist to make bread stick appetizers.
Like the peach salsa, pizza is a make-it-your own type dish. You need a crust, sauce, peach, meat, cheese, and combination of herb or spice. For the meat, I considered bacon, but I had sausage on hand. I also really wanted to use basil, but since my basil plant looked like what you see below, I improvised with the cilantro I also had on hand.
After I baked my pizza for lunch, I went dinner at 300 East. I was very satisfied to see they too had a peach pizza on the menu, but with red onion, ham, blue cheese and basil. Pizza really is a make it your own dish, so please, try it and make it your own. You will be off to a great week!
- 1 pizza crust
- 2 medium peaches
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 small onion
- 2 large sausage links
- ¼ cup ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup cilantro
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Very finely chop one peach, and cut the other into thin slices. Allow the chopped peaches to drain on a paper towel for a few moments while you prepare the onion and sausage.
- In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar. Add the onion and sausage and cook until lightly browned.
- Roll out the pizza crust in a greased and floured jelly roll pan or on a pizza stone.
- Top the crust with the chopped peaches, then add the sliced peaches, onions, sausage, ricotta cheese, cilantro, and cinnamon.
- Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes