Friday, November 12, 2010

Karina's Falafel Pizza Pie

I love pizza, but rarely part take in it or its cherished convenience due to the fact that I avoid dairy, meat, and when I can- white bread. When I want pizza, it usually means I must find the time to start from scratch and do it myself...

I also love
Mediterranean food. I love falafel, and hummus, and pomegranate seeds- I love it all. I am lucky enough to have a Israeli best friend who can cook as well as her genius and talented mother, and they have both shared with me incredible flavors and recipes I might not be so exposed to otherwise.

A few weeks back I decided to get creative, and combine these two loves by making my very own- Falafel Pizza.

My favorite pizza dough is made with cornmeal, so I looked up a few recipes and started with this one I found on Martha Stewart's website:

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2/3 cups warm water
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface (I used organic whole wheat instead)
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal, plus more for pizza peel or baking sheet
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl

  • I added some extra spices- (cayenne, curry, cinnamon and thyme) for a little extra subtle flavor in the crust.

  • In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water. Let stand until yeast is dissolved and mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.
  • Combine flour, cornmeal, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and add the yeast mixture and oil. Slowly stir ingredients with a wooden spoon just until dough starts to come together. Turn out dough on a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Divide dough into four 4-ounce balls. Place balls in a shallow oiled bowl, turning to coat with oil; cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

  • The next steps of the borrowed recipe called for a pizza stone to bake on, but instead I just spread my dough out in a few baking pans once it had sat and risen for an hour. I used my finger tips and palms and worked the dough until it spread out fully in each dish bottom. I preheated the oven at 500* and set my ready crusts aside for the toppings.

    I thought the most appropriate sauce for this blending of cuisines might be a nice garlicy pesto. In my food processor, I threw in a few cups of washed fresh basil, a handful of pine nuts, several garlic cloves, sea salt, lemon, and olive oil. As usual, I "guestimated" all of the proportions until I had the most desirable consistency and taste possible.

    I could seriously eat this pesto with a spoon. Wait- I did....

    I had a bunch of fresh zucchinis and carrots, so I had the idea to shred them in the food processor and spread them over the entire pizza almost as a cheese replacement...

    I would love to try making falafel from scratch one day soon, but on this occasion I had just purchased an organic falafel mix that you add water to, and fry them in a pan in some light oil.

    I followed the directions (plus added in some extra cayenne for more spice in the mix) and fried each one on each side until brown and almost crispy on the outside...

    I coated each of my crusts with a nice thick spread of pesto, sprinkled on a generous layer shredded zucchini/carrot, tossed on some halved cherry tomatoes, and broke apart bits of falafel to top them off..

    While they were baking for about 8-10 minutes at 500*, I prepared an Israeli-style salad by finely chopping up onion, cucumber, tomatoes, and pomegranate seeds and mixing it with olive oil, sea salt and lemon. When I was visiting in Israel last summer, we literally had a salad similar to this with every meal.

    Once my steaming pizzas came out and cooled for a few minutes, I spooned out dollops of fresh hummus I had made on top, and lastly sprinkled the pies with fresh pomegranate seeds.

    If the marrying of these two dishes couldn't bring about world peace, I know not what else could.

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