Exotic pizzas and gourmet pizzas have always been my forte! I like to make interesting pizzas!
Sun dried tomatoes always are nice with gorgonzola cheese. For this recipe, accenting the flavor of the sun dried tomatoes is important, so the sauce is made with tomato paste. Traditionally, tomato paste is sun baked and then passed through a sieve before final reduction. A high quality tomato paste has a similar flavor to sun dried tomato. A bright fresco tomato sauce or a regular Italian pizza sauce is not a good match for the great flavor of sun dried tomato.
Pizza Dough Recipe:
If you have dough making experience, then this will be easy.
High gluten flour is best for this recipe, but bread flour can be used. Pizza dough is focaccia dough or Italian bagette style bread dough. No oil in the mixture will produce a dough that is like many Italian breads that are not enriched with fat or French baguette bread dough. Many pizzeria chefs do not add oil to a pizza dough and that is correct pizza dough too.
Focaccia style doughs require enrichment with fat. Olive oil is a fat! Oil strengthens and elongates the gluten strands of the dough. It only takes a very small amount of oil to produce a nice texture. The elastic gluten strands give pizza dough the ability to be stretched and tossed in the air!
Add 2 tablespoon of fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon of dry yeast to 16 ounces of tepid luke warm water in a mixing bowl.
Place the mixing bowl in a luke warm place like on top of a warm oven.
When the yeast activates, add 2 teaspoons of sugar to proof the yeast.
Add about 2 cups of flour.
Add 2 teaspoons of sea salt.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
Stir the mixture with a spoon, till a very loose wet dough is formed.
Start adding a little bit of flour at a time,while stirring, till a loose dough is formed.
Add a little more flour at a time, while mixing with your fingers, till the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
You will be able to feel when the dough is starting to get elastic. It will stick to your hands when made correctly, but that will change after rising twice.
Add flour, while hand mixing, till the dough can pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Cover the dough in the mixing bowl with a dry towel.
Set the bowl on top of an oven in a luke warm area, with a second towel underneath the bowl to protect the dough from too much heat.
When the dough rises more than double, beat it down with your knuckles and gather the dough like a ball in the bowl.
Cover the dough with a towel and let it rise again.
When it rises the second time, beat the dough down and knead firmly with your hands for 1 minute.
Place the dough on a floured counter top.
Roll the dough into a large ball.
Cut the dough ball in half for two medium size pizzas portions or into four portions for mini pizzas.
Roll and tuck each dough portion with with your hands to make smooth dough balls.
You can cover and refrigerate each dough ball for a few days or freeze the dough portions for later use.
Tomato Paste Pizza Sauce Recipe:
This pizza recipe does not call for much of this tomato paste pizza sauce. Tomato paste pizza sauce has a very strong rich tomato flavor, so it should be used sparingly. This sauce is meant to accent the flavor of the sun dried tomatoes.
Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat
Add 1 1/2 ounces of olive oil.
Add 3 minced garlic cloves.
Saute till the garlic turns a golden color.
Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Add 4 ounces of tomato paste.
Stir the tomato paste into the olive oil with a whisk.
Simmer and stir for 1 minute.
Add a little bit of water at a time, while whisking, till a medium thin tomato sauce is formed.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 1 pinch of basil.
Add 1 pinch of thyme.
Add 1 pinch of oregano.
Simmer the sauce for 2 minutes.
Set the sauce aside.
Sun Dried Tomatoes:
Count out 10 sun dried tomato halves.
Cut the sun dried tomato halves in half.
Heat a sauce pot over high heat.
Add 4 cups of water and bring the water to a boil.
Add the sun dried tomatoes.
Boil the sun dried tomatoes for 1 minute.
Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Gently simmer the sun dried tomatoes, till they just start to become tender.
Drain the water off of the reconstituted sun dried tomatoes.
Set the sun dried tomatoes aside.
Fresh steamed or boiled artichokes are best. For this pizza recipe, canned artichoke hearts are a good choice too. I used canned artichoke hearts for the pizza in the pictures.
It is better to buy good quality canned whole artichoke hearts and then cut them into quarters. Canned artichoke hearts that are pre-cut into halves or quarters are easily damaged in the canning process. You want the artichoke hearts to be pretty looking on this pizza!
Cut 3 or 4 artichoke hearts in half, from top to bottom.
Cut the artichoke hearts into quarters.
Cut the artichoke hearts into eighths.
Place each of the artichoke heart eighths on a plate, so they do not become damaged.
Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the artichoke heart eighths.
Set the artichoke eighths aside.
Artichoke, Sun Dried Tomato and Gorgonzola Cheese Pizza Recipe:
Lightly dust a countertop with flour.
Place a mini pizza portion of the pizza dough on the floured countertop.
Pat the pizza out to a flat round mini pizza shape with your fingertips.
Brush a pizza pan lightly with olive oil.
Place the pizza shaped dough on the pizza pan.
Pat the dough out again, if necessary.
Brush the pizza crust with olive oil.
Par bake the pizza crust, till the dough has risen and so the dough is firm like bread. The crust should only be a white color at this time.
Place the par baked pizza crust and pan on a counter top.
Spread a small amount of the tomato paste pizza sauce on the crust, with a spoon, from the center of the pizza pie out to the pizza crust edge.
Sprinkle a little bit of grated mozzarella cheese on the pizza.
Sprinkle a larger amount of crumbled gorgonzola cheese on the pizza.
Arrange the sun dried tomato quarters on top of the cheese. (Use the pizza pictures up top on this page as a pattern.)
Place each of the artichoke heart eighths between each of the sun dried tomato quarters on the pizza.
Sprinkle a pinch of oregano on the pizza.
Return the pizza to the 450 degree oven.
Bake till the cheese melts. (Do not let the cheese brown! Burnt gorgonzola cheese tastes awful!)
Slide the pizza onto a cutting board.
Cut the mini pizza into 4 pie shaped slices.
Place the pizza slices on a serving platter.
This is a nice gourmet pizza! The tangy rich tomato paste pizza sauce and the deep flavor of sun dried tomatoes is nice with gorgonzola cheese. Gorgonzola has a great flavor on its own. The light flavor of the artichoke slices does compliment the cheese and tomatoes. With only just a few choice ingredients, this gourmet pizza is one of the best tasting! Ciao Baby! ... Shawna