Then there’s the feta cheese. I didn’t forget about the feta – I just didn’t want the length of this pizza name to scare you away. Plus, I know how some of you out there feel about feta. If it really does offend you in any way (i.e. remind you of feet) just leave it off. In this recipe though, while it would still be perfectly delicious without it – the salty goodness of the feta is the perfect compliment to the sweetness of all the caramelized onions.
It’s like peanut butter and jelly. Weekends and relaxing. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. You guys don’t mind if I go on a mini Macklemore tangent, do you? No? Didn’t think so. Macklemore is the man. Do I have a celebrity crush on him? Nope. Do I want to dance every time I hear “White Walls?” The answer is a big, fat, booty bouncing yes. Doesn’t matter if I’m sitting in traffic, running on the treadmill or at my desk at work – I can’t help it. Above and beyond the danceability of his beats, he actually seems like a decent dude and there aren’t a slew of celebrities I can confidently say that about.
Miley Cyrus? Here’s lookin’ at you, kid. Someday, in a time not far from now – you’ll look back at what you were doing (and wearing) in 2013 and realize you look like a grade A a-hole. I’m not talking about when you’re an old lady…I’m referring to when you’re, like, 28.
And for the record – 28 does not an old lady make. Trust me, I know. Back to Macklemore. I was hanging around the house on Saturday morning when Eric called me into the living room – he knows I’m a fan a figured I’d be interested to know that Macklemore’s Big Surprise was airing on E! The episode was an hour long and since I have the attention span of a toddler, I didn’t watch the whole thing, but what I did see was nothing short of inspiring. Macklemore and his fiancée – an absolutely adorable blonde named Tricia who came off on camera as equally kind as she is beautiful – surprised Tricia’s mother with a whole home makeover. It was a total transformation – inside and out – that they managed to make happen in just 72 hours.
Oh – and they paid off her mortgage. So, yeah…there’s that. I’m not sure if it’s because the hubs and I are homeowners now – with a mortgage of our own – but I found myself ugly crying into my coffee cup. The thought of that gesture alone is enough to get me emotional, but witnessing it with my own two, teary eyes – seeing someone’s life changed in an instant – was awesome in every sense of the word.
The best part was that Macklemore’s future mother-in-law, Diana, could not have been more gracious. After she saw the makeover and everyone who helped along the way, she said that her home was just “bouncing with good karma.” Love. This. Lady. Okay, so I know I didn’t talk at all about this pizza, but we did enough pizza talkin’ in my last post. Some of you may feel this defeats the purpose of a food blog, but to me, this departure took precedence. It’s not everyday you see something so good on TV.
Honey Boo Boo ain’t got nothin’ on Ben Haggerty.
Pesto Pizza with Spinach, Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions
Yield: One large pizza (serves 4 hungry people)
Hands On Time: 15-20 minutes
Baking Time: 12-14 minutes
1 recipe Foolproof Pizza Dough (or a 16 oz. ball of store bought dough)
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces spinach
1/4 cup-1/3 prepared pesto (I use Classico), more or less depending on personal preference
6 ounces cup feta, crumbled
4 ounces muenster (or other melty cheese, like mozzarella), shredded
Lightly grease a large pan cookie sheet of your choice and then sprinkle cornmeal evenly over the entire surface. The spray keeps the pizza from sticking; the cornmeal gives the crust great flavor and crunch. Place the dough on the prepared pan. Press it over the bottom of the pan, stretching it towards the edges. Your goal is to get the dough to fill the pan as fully as possible. If it keeps shrinking up on you, cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean dish cloth and walk away for a few minutes – then come back and try again.
Preheat the oven to 450°F and prep your toppings so you can assemble everything.
Melt a bit of butter in a large skillet over medium heat – add onions and after a minute or two, the brown sugar. Allow everything to cook down and get caramelized, which should take fifteen minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and let those soften up for another couple minutes before adding your spinach. While it’ll look like a lot of spinach at first, this will cook down quickly it heats up. Once it’s wilted, turn off the burner and set skillet aside.
To top your pizza, start by spreading a layer of pesto on the dough, but be sure to leave an edge all the way around. Since the spinach and other vegetables will have given off some liquid, use a slotted spoon to remove the veggie mix from your skillet. Scatter feta crumbles around and on top of the veggies and then sprinkle on the muenster or mozzarella.
Bake the pizza on the lower oven rack till it just begins to brown around the edge of the crust. This will take about 8 minutes for thinner crust pizza; about 10 to 12 minutes for medium thickness; and 12 to 14 minutes for thick-crust pizza. Move the pan to the upper rack in the oven and broil until the crust and the cheese are nicely browned and bubbly (feta won’t melt like mozzarella). Keep the oven door slightly open and a watchful eye on everything, as it can easily burn.
Remove the pizza from the oven, and transfer it from the pan to a rack to cool slightly before serving. I’m hoping that all you invisible internet friends out there have a great weekend and that you do two things: make this pizza and watch Macklemore’s Big Surprise.
Just consider yourself warned about the ugly cry – it could happen to you, too.
Update: I watched the episode in its entirety last night…and cried all over again. One of my favorite details I missed the first go ’round was that on their first date, Tricia made Macklemore an amazing sandwich and that she’s been cooking for him ever since.
That whole things about men, hearts and stomachs? I swear, there’s some truth to that.