Fresh Tomato Pizza
July 24, 2012 § 3 Comments
This beautifully imperfect heirloom tomato? I bought it from a grocery store. Tomatoes have hit the farmers’ markets in the last few weeks and I could not be more excited about that, but for the purposes of this post, I purchased this particular tomato from a grocery store.
I recently wrote about the fact that I feel spoiled to live in a city where choices are available and therefore easy. With farmers’ markets, grocery stores and restaurants filled with passionate, knowledgeable people, I can be confident that I have made a choice that lines up with my values. I want to make the local choice, the organic choice, the seasonal choice and the ethical choice. For my health, my enjoyment and for the world around me. And most often, these choices can be made with ease. What I want to address here, though, is that not everyone – everywhere – has this luxury. And what this means is, we need to advocate for these choices everyday.
Wherever you are and whatever choices you have available to you, one thing you can do is advocate for those choices – even in small ways. Specifically, I want to talk more about tomatoes though. Today I am writing this post to raise awareness for the fight against slave-free tomatoes. The Giving Table, a philanthropy/food focused blog that aims to create “food philanthropists” out of everyone, is hosting an event today with which many other food bloggers are participating. Food Bloggers for Slave Free Tomatoes is a simple event which aims to increase awareness of the slavery and human rights abuse happening right in this country. While many of us are aware of modern slavery, it can be difficult to recognize or admit that this problem exists in a country that prides itself on freedom. In the US, though, it is happening. As consumers advocating for choice, we need to make sure the money we spend does not support these practices. We need to ask questions and demand more from our grocers, vendors, supplier, producers, etc. We need to not settle for whatever costs the least to a few privileged folks and do whatever it takes to stand up for human rights. Really, we need to understand the choices we make and and feel good about how they affect the world. More information about what can done about this injustice is available with the International Justice Mission’s campaign for this cause.
So, the tomato you’re seeing here came from a grocery store. Before that, it came from a local farm, harvested by a member of my local community. While I love getting nearly all of my fresh produce from the farmers’ market, occasionally I pick up a thing or two from my local grocer. I can feel good about it though, because I know what questions to ask and I know that this grocery store shares many of my values. To address this, send a message to some of nation’s largest supermarket chains asking that they only carry slave-free tomatoes endorsed by the Fair Food Program.
To see how other bloggers are using tomatoes to spread awareness and affect change, check out The Giving Table on Twitter, on Facebook and on Pinterest. I am using a single Cherokee heirloom tomato to top a pizza. With an olive oil base, slices of fresh mozzarella, a dusting of fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, this is barely a recipe. But today’s post is about the tomato more than the pizza. So there you go.
Fresh Tomato Pizza:
I wrote about pizza almost a year ago so I don’t have much new information here. I have updated the recipe a bit for the dough and added weights for ease and accuracy. Tomatoes are a treat for me, not an everyday (year-round) sandwich topper, so using them in this simple way showcases the simple flavor of the season. Seriously, nothing extraordinary is going on here. I almost feel a bit presumptuous in posting a recipe like this. However, the simple ingredients resulted in the most satisfying pizza I have ever made myself.
One more note: in the photo immediately above, you see a salami/provolone topped tomato-sauced pizza next to the topic of discussion. I made a 1x recipe of the pizza dough, but used .5x the ingredients for the toppings for half of the dough that resulted so that Matt could have his own pizza. I talk about portioning the dough for multiple pizza below.
- 2/3 cup lukewarm water
- 2 g. active dry yeast (3/4 tsp)
- 6 g. honey (1 tsp)
- 4 g. salt (1 tsp)
- 75 g. whole wheat flour (1/2 cup)
- 150 g. bread flour (1 cup)
- 16 g. olive oil (2 tbsp) – plus more for the bowl
- cornmeal (or semolina flour)
- 1 large or 2 small slave-free, preferably local and heirloom tomatoes, slice approximately 1/4″ thick
- 8-16 oz fresh mozzarella (more if you like a super cheesy pizza), sliced very thin for maximum pizza coverage
- olive oil
- a handful of fresh basil leaves – approximately 1 sprig
- balsamic vinegar
Combine lukewarm water with yeast and honey using a whisk or fork in a small container. Set aside for 5-10 minutes so the yeast can bloom. In a larger mixing bowl, combine salt, whole wheat flour and bread flour. Once the yeast has bloomed (see the picture above), add the olive oil to the flour along with the yeast/water. Using a spatula or bowl scraper, combine all the ingredients and then dump the shaggy mess onto a flour-dusted work surface. Before you get your hands dirty, add a drizzle of olive oil to the bowl for when you’re done kneading. Knead the dough into a cohesive mass until it is very supple and forms a ball without much assistance – approximately 10 minutes. Place the ball into the oiled bowl and turn it over so that it is oiled on all sides. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature for about an hour.
Once the dough has almost finished rising, prepare the ingredients. Slice the tomatoes – 1/4″, not thinner or they will lose all integrity in the oven. Slice the mozzarella as thinly as possible – you want to be able to cover every inch of the pizza so that the tomatoes won’t leak juice onto the dough. Pull the leaves off of the basil sprigs, but wait to slice the basil until the pizza goes into the oven to avoid oxidization.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Pull dough from the bowl and knead it for just a minute. If you are making multiple pizzas, portion the dough now by cutting it to pieces with a bench scraper or sharp knife and weighing the portions on a scale, then knead the portions into balls. Place ball(s) on the work surface and top with the kitchen towel. Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Using the backsides of your hands, stretch the dough out to fit your pizza stone (or baking sheet, cast iron skillet, etc). Dust the pizza stone with a bit of cornmeal and place the dough onto the pizza stone. Drizzle a bit of olive oil onto the dough and spread it around with your fingers. Place the sliced mozzarella onto the dough, avoiding in cheese-free gaps. Haphazardly place the sliced tomato on top of the mozzarella. Drizzle a bit more olive on top and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Place in preheated oven and bake 15-20 minutes or until the dough is stiff when lifted with a spatula. Slice basil leaves thinly or leave them whole if you like. Remove from oven and top with basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Allow to rest a few minutes before cutting into it.