I am glad I waited until the weekend because this one took a while: peach pizza with homemade ricotta cheese and a cinnamon pizza crust. Very finely chopped peaches will serve as the sauce, with sliced peaches, onions, sausage, ricotta cheese, cilantro, and sprinkle of cinnamon as toppings. The crust bakes up like a thick, soft pillow, and the toppings provide just the right balance of sweet and savory.
Like peach salsa, pizza is a make-it-your own type dish. You need a crust, sauce, toppings (peach, meat, and cheese here), and preferably some combination of herbs and spices. For the meat, I considered bacon, but I had sausage on hand. I also really wanted to use basil, but since my basil plant is practically done for, I improvised with cilantro.
My initial uncertainty about making my own ricotta was quickly diminished by the ease of the process and the completely obliterated by the delicious taste of fresh, rich, creamy ricotta cheese. I hope to never buy the bland ricotta sold at the store again.
The recipe for homemade ricotta is pretty much the same everywhere: milk, salt, and an acid like lemon juice. 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 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 colander should sit above a large bowl that will catch the draining liquid. Allow the curds to drain and there you have it: made-from-scratch ricotta cheese.
While the pizza bakes, you can use any leftover pizza crust to make cinnamon and sugar sticks (or knots). Brush the remaining dough with butter, roll it in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, cut it into thin strips, and twist. Simply bake the dough for a few minutes after the pizza comes out of the oven.
After I baked my pizza for lunch, I went dinner at 300 East. I was please 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. Enjoy!
Peach Pizza with Homemade Ricotta
- For the Crust
- 1 packet (1/4 ounce) rapid-rise yeast
- 1 cup warm water.
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for coating the dough
- For the Pizza
- 2 medium peaches
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 small onion
- 2 large sausage links
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- To make the pizza crust, stir the packet of rapid-rise yeast into the cup of warm water. Allow the yeast to dissolve for a few minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the water and dissolved yeast into the well.
- Add the olive oil to the mixture and stir until combined.
- Form the dough into a ball, coat it with more olive oil, cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel, and let sit for up to two hours.
- To make the pizza, 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 and place 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.
To make homemade ricotta cheese, 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 (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. Allow the curds to drain from the colander into a large bowl. Refrigerate immediately.