Yesterday I was in the mood for pizza. I wasn’t sure what kind of pizza I was in the mood for, but I was set on having some combination of dough and cheese for dinner. I usually pick pizza toppings by looking in my fridge for items that need to be used up, but nothing was really jumping out at me. Plus, I was all out of banana peppers, and pizza night without banana peppers is like Christmas without presents. Or Easter without candy. Or movie night without popcorn and Junior Mints if you have a differing view of Christmas and Easter than I do.
I turned to the interwebs for inspiration, and I found it in the form of an Ina Garten recipe for Baked Fontina that I’d recently bookmarked. One day I will work up the nerve to eat a crock of molten, herby fontina for dinner, but until that day arrives, I will stick to eating my slightly less gluttonous pizza version. For my interpretation I kept the fontina, added a few other kinds of cheese and a very thin layer of red sauce, and, in lieu of the herb combination in Ina’s recipe, I made a chimichurri sauce for either dipping or smothering on the baked pizza. I really wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but judging by the fact that my boyfriend went from “not that hungry” to eating 2/3 of this pizza in addition to a couple of slices of another pizza (one with banana peppers!), I think it was a success. The cheese pizza on its own was really good, and the chimichurri sauce added a nice, bright dimension to it. Mmm…chimichurri…
Cheese Pizza with Chimichurri Dipping Sauce
For the pizza:
- Pizza dough
- 1/3 cup pizza sauce
- 2-3 cups grated cheese (I used mostly fontina and farmer cheese with a little mozzarella and parmesan)
For the chimichurri sauce:
- 2 cups flat-leaf parsley, leaves and thin stems only
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp vinegar (optional)
- Olive oil
- All measurements are approximate and should be adjusted to taste.
- Leftover chimichurri is great on eggs, meat, potatoes, sandwiches, and many other things.
Combine the parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, vinegar (if using), and about 1/2 tsp of salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process into a rough paste, then pour in olive oil while the motor runs until it thins out into a sauce. The consistency will be similar to pesto. Season with additional salt. Set the sauce aside, keeping it at room temperature, while you prepare the pizza.
While making chimichurri sauce, you should not let your giant thumb get in the way of your extremely sharp knife while chopping garlic. Because that’s what I did, and it led to the near loss of a considerable piece of my thumb, the utterance of several not nice words, a panicked series of phone calls to my dad, mom, and boyfriend, more panicking when nobody was answering their phones, the application of a lot of pressure and bloodying of several paper towels, and finally a returned phone call from my dad with his doctor’s orders of pressure, band-aids, and, eventually, super glue. The bleeding stopped, the panicking subsided, and the cooking continued (with cleaned surfaces and a new round of garlic cloves, of course). Whew.
Preheat your oven to 450. Stretch the pizza dough on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a thin layer of pizza sauce (just like the one pictured above on the right).
Cover with cheese.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is browned to your liking.
Serve with chimichurri sauce.