Thursday, June 6, 2013

Pizza with chicken, peppers, and spinach

Just in time for summer, I've rekindled my love for our Friday night pizza-making tradition.  There's nothing like cranking up the oven to nearly 500 degrees when it's a sweltering 90 degrees outside.  What can I say?  Nothing can get between me and my love for pizza.  

It seems a bit cruel that the options for pizza toppings increase ten-fold when it's hottest and least ideal for oven cooking of any kind.  Matt loves to point out that the baking/oven bug bites hardest at this time of year.  I love to point out that he doesn't seem to have a problem with it when he's stuffing his face with delicious food.  Agree to disagree, mmkay? :)

The idea for this combination of toppings came from an ill-fated attempt to order pizza.   A few Saturdays ago, we decided to hit the grocery store for a major stock-up trip around 5:00.  Apparently, everyone else in the metropolitan Pittsburgh area had the same idea.  The store was packed, lines were long, and even my seemingly-endless supply of patience for food shopping was waning (so you know Matt's was long gone).

By the time we got home, the growling of our stomachs drowned out even our nonstop grumbling.  Neither of us was in the mood to cook, and ordering pizza seemed like the quickest and most effortless way to satisfy our hunger.  That is until we realized both the pantry and fridge were full, and pizza wouldn't be in our stomachs for at least another 35 minutes.  What to do, what to do?  coughcerealfordinnercough

While cereal did the job then (though a late-night trip to get frozen yogurt proved necessary), my craving for pizza went unsatisfied.  I had already envisioned a pie loaded with my customary toppings when we order in: spinach, red peppers, and chicken.  Maybe it's the vibrant colors or the idea that vegetables and lean chicken instantly make pizza good for you.  For some reason, I'd never tried the combination at home.

Safe to say that this homemade version was a million times better than delivery and easy as (pizza) pie to make.  Fresh juicy peppers, tender chicken, bright spinach, and as much cheese as we wanted.  Plus, we saved some dough by making it at home.  Mmm hmm.  See what I did there? :)

Pizza with Chicken, Peppers, and Spinach
(an original recipe!)
-makes 4 servings

1 pound pizza dough (this is my go-to recipe)
Flour, for dusting
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 cups baby spinach, torn into smaller pieces
2/3-1 cup pizza sauce of choice
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Pizza seasoning (or, dried basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt, and pepper)

Place a pizza stone or sheet pan in the oven and preheat to 475 degrees for about 30 minutes.

On the bottom of a large baking sheet, pizza peel, or large piece of parchment paper lightly dust with cornmeal. On a lightly floured surface, roll out and stretch the pizza dough into a 14-inch circle and place on said surface. Brush the edges with olive oil. Spread sauce evenly around dough, leaving a 1-inch border for the crust.  Top with spinach, then chicken.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over pizza and top with peppers. Finish with a sprinkling of pizza seasoning.

Carefully transfer the pizza to the stone or sheet in the oven. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the toppings are cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to sit 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

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