I decided today, on the walk home from work, that the month of September may be the best month at the farmer's market. It's where summer and fall collide into a beautiful produce filled mess, where tomatoes and apples and pumpkin and zucchini and peaches and peppers live together harmoniously. It's an epic time.
I've waited for what feels like months to make this pizza. I first saw a recipe for it long before zucchini season arrived and so I filed it away so that when August did arrive I could make it. The thing about August and pizza is that they don't really go together because its too god damm hot to make pizza when your apartment already feels like a sauna. Turning on the oven and then the air conditioner to try and offset the heat radiating out of the oven is just a recipe for disaster. (Unless of course you have a grill or an outdoor pizza oven and if that's the case I would love for you to send me an e-mail so we can schedule a weekend to get together next year since I would love to take advantage of those things. I promise to also bring dessert.)
Thankfully zucchini season extends into September when the weather is cooler (bye air conditioning, hello open windows!), and I can finally have a relationship with my oven again and with pizza! This pizza is a good way to merge the seasons - the pungent pesto and spicy sauteed zucchini reminds you of summer where as the smoky mozzarella is reminiscent of fall. I love serving it with ice cold pumpkin beers (what could be better on a Sunday night?!)
Sauteed Zucchini Pizza with Walnut Pesto and Ricotta
Makes 2 pizzas
So a couple of notes. I tested a new pizza dough recipe since I always love trying new things. The one I used is here (I halved it). As you already know there are more then enough pizza dough recipes on this blog (here, here, and here). Any of these would work well, just depends on what type of recipe you are looking for. Store-bought pizza dough is always an option (no judgement). Any leftover pesto/zucchini can be folded into pasta for a killer lunch.
For the Pizza
2 zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 - 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 balls of pizza dough (see notes above on recipe's for dough)
4 tablespoons creme fraiche, divided
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
2/3 cup walnut pesto (recipe below)
1 (4 ounce ball) smoked mozzarella (if you can't find smoked regular works as well), torn into pieces
1/2 - 3/4 cup fresh ricotta
2 cups of arugula tossed with a pinch of salt
1 cup toasted walnuts
2/3 cup fresh basil
2/3 cup arugula
Juice of half a lemon
1 clove garlic
2 -3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 - 1/2 cup olive oil (depending on your preference, I prefer less oil then what traditional recipes call for)
2 tablespoons heavy cream or half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
Make the walnut pesto: Puree walnuts, basil, arugula, lemon juice and garlic, then stream in olive oil and cream. Puree completely. Transfer to a medium bowl and fold in grated Parmesan. Add salt and peper to taste
If using a pizza stone, place it on the top rack of your oven and preheat at 500°F for 1 hour. Use convection if you have it. If you are not using a pizza stone, preheat your oven 20 minutes before you are ready to bake. Lighly oil a baking sheet or a metal pizza pan.
Sauté zucchini with olive oil and red pepper flakes over high heat until deeply browned in parts, 6–8 minutes.
Form each ball of pizza dough into 12"–14" rounds on a floured work surface. If using a pizza peel dust it with semolina flour or cornmeal. If not prepare the pizza on your oiled pizza pan. Place 1 formed pizza dough on peel/pan and spread with 2 tablespoons crème fraîche, along with thin slices of 1 garlic clove. Top with ⅓ cup walnut pesto, torn pieces of fresh mozzarella, ¼ cup ricotta and a generous amount of zucchini.
Slide pizza onto pizza stone using a swift movement or place pizza pan in the oven and bake for 8–10 minutes until golden brown and darker in some parts. Assemble the next while the previous is baking.
Remove and top each pizza with 1 cups of arugula and a sprinkle of flaky salt.