Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spicy Spinach, Ricotta and Sausage Pizza

This bad boy's another restaurant appropriation. My husband and I frequent a wine bar across the street called Toast. It's super convenient for us, it has an excellent wine list with frequently-changing wines by the glass, it's fairly inexpensive, and we are quite fond of its modest but yummy menu, which includes like twenty kinds of crostini, a handful of pizzas, and a couple salads and sandwiches. It also has an amazing dessert menu, but that's neither here nor there as far as this post is concerned. What this post is concerned about is the pizza. Specifically, the spinach, ricotta, chile pepper, and provolone pizza. (Which will change to the zucchini, ricotta, chile pepper, and provolone pizza in a few short weeks, I imagine, when things start to grow here other than asparagus.)

I've made this a couple of times now. The first time, I made it exactly as I imagine they make it at Toast, except with a lot less cheese because, well, you know you can't ever use the amount of cheese in your at-home cooking as they use at restaurants. I'd like to. But neither my waistline nor my wallet can afford it. (Seriously. They must use three or four times as much provolone as I used.) The second time, I used a store-bought pizza crust and added smoked andouille sausage. It was even better, not only because, duh, it had sausage, but also because we have not yet mastered the art of homemade pizza dough, so something was lacking in that first go, something besides the sausage. (Plus the Rustic Crust pizza crusts are super tasty and often on sale at our co-op.)

If you live in Minneapolis and like a good flat-crust pizza, I highly recommend trying the original version of this pizza at Toast. (It's good. Good enough for me to copy and have in the comfort of my home not once but twice in the last month.) But if you aren't so lucky, or even if you are but sometimes just need a homemade version of a restaurant-style pizza with a fraction of the cheese, this little recipe will serve you well.

Spicy Spinach, Ricotta and Sausage Pizza
Yield: one 12" pizza, to serve 2-4 people (but let's be honest 2 people)

1 store-bought or oven-ready homemade pizza crust, 10-12 inches in diameter
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1/4 to 1 teaspoon dried red chile pepper flakes (or, heck, more if you really like spice)
2 big handfuls spinach (about 5 ounces, I'm guessing)
1/4 of a sweet onion (I used Texas 1015) or 2 shallots, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/4 pound smoked andouille sausage (1-2 links), thinly sliced
2-3 ounces grated provolone cheese (about 1/2 cup)

Pictures above sort of show the process. Dollop ricotta cheese evenly over pizza crust. Top with garlic and red chile flakes. Next cover the whole pizza with a huge tower of spinach (it will flatten once cooked). Layer the onion or shallot rings and sausage before finally covering the provolone on top. Bake according to your crust's package instructions, or until the cheese and sausage are starting to brown (in my house, this meant about 10-12 minutes in a 425 degree oven). Let cool for about 5 minutes before slicing. Try not to eat the whole thing yourself.

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