Veggie ‘Za

VeggieZaVertbfLOSummer has really only just begun (STOP humming that song!) and we keep getting dumped on with the thunder and lightning and wind and rain. Last night’s storm whipped through just after Rich went to bed, so he missed the warning chyrons across The Daily Show and Letterman. He also missed the wall of rain, wicked high winds, thunder, lightning and, just a touch of, hail – my late Aunt Buzz would’ve been in the cellar with her flashlight, bottle of vodka, and deck of cards in a heartbeat.

Even with the storms; we’d had more than our share of meats grilled and roasted this past week, so thought it a good time to have a meatless meal or two. Fortunately, I came across a recipe I used to enjoy for vegetable deep dish pizza in an old book. The original recipe called for adding sausage, but I just added more veggies. I also tossed out the original dough recipe and instead made the pastry from the rustic pizza we had when Rich’s mom was visiting (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!). I’d call this a nice alternative to the far heavier original rustic VeggieZaPlatebfLOpizza, though the next time I will probably add some crushed red pepper to the tomato mixture.

We had it with a bit of warm pizza sauce on top – tho’ marinara would easily work as well. One warning – even though this IS much lighter than the original sausage and ricotta stuffed pizza, it is still one substantial pie. Be prepared for leftovers or have some people over…

•4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
•1/2 cup granulated sugar
•1 tsp kosher salt
•1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
•1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
•4 large eggs

•1-1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
•2 or 3 red, yellow and or green peppers
•1/2 cup pitted ripe olives
•2 cups shredded mozzarella
•6 oz shredded cheese – I used some baby Swiss we had in the cheese bin, but Bel Paese, Fontina, Gorgonzola, or Muenster would also work

Veggie Topping:
•About 3-1/2 cups seeded and chopped tomatoes – I used grape tomatoes and didn’t fret about the seeds
•2 small zucchini, sliced
•2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
•2 small, coarsely chopped onions
•1 tbsp snipped fresh basil
•1 tbsp snipped fresh oregano
•1 tbsp fennel seed (I didn’t use)
•Salt to taste

Egg wash:
•1 egg and 1 tbsp water

Prepare the dough:
Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the flat mixing paddle inserted. Mix on low speed about 30 seconds to mix and aerate. Add the butter and continue on slow for 1 minute. Add the olive oil and mix for 30 seconds (the butter and olive oil should be well incorporated into the dry ingredients). Add the eggs one at a time. Be sure to incorporate each egg before adding the next. After adding the last egg, mix on moderate speed until the dough comes together as a mass, about 30 to 40 seconds. If the mixture appears slightly dry, add water one tablespoon (15 ml) at a time on low speed until the mixture resembles a soft dough. Gather the dough ball and cut in half, forming each half into a disc shape. Wrap each disc and place in refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Shred the cheeses and drain the olives. Set aside. Toss the sliced peppers and ‘shrooms in some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a few herbs and roast for 30 to 45 minutes at 250º.

Drain and let them cool.

Veggie Topping:
Toss the sliced zucchini with salt and set aside to drain in a colander for about thirty minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Mix the zucchini with the tomato, onion, garlic and herbs. Drain again just before using.

To make the ‘za:
Preheat oven to 350°. Roll one dough disc to a round about 16 inches. Carefully transfer to a 9-inch springform pan, trimming the dough so that a 1-inch overhang remains

NOTE: I STILL didn’t have enough dough to get this overhang, which still worked out fine, since the filling didn’t totally fill the pan; I ran the base dough up to the edge of the pan, added the filling, placed the top dough over it and folded the sides down.

Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with mozzarella. Top with the roasted peppers and ‘shrooms, olives, veggie topping and additional cheese.

Roll out second dough disc to a round and place over filling. Cut the top dough to match the existing overhang. Pinch edges together and then crimp to create a decorative edge. Brush the top well with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 70 to 75 minutes.

Let stand about 15 to 20 minutes. Release the pan sides, transfer to a cutting board or platter. Cut into pieces and serve (with warm marinara and additional cheese, if you like).

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