Flash in the Pan

Never mind the cauliflower crust, here’s zucchini pizza

Posted

At my local farmers market the other day, I was watching the stand of a farmer friend as he made the rounds. I chatted with shoppers, taking their money as if I were the farmer and silently taking credit for all the amazing produce I did not grow.  

One of my customers bought a pile of 8-ball summer squash, a type of round zucchini. “What are you going to do with them?” I asked. “Slice them up and cover the slices with pizza toppings,” she said, “and bake them into little zucchini pizzas.” 

Move over cauliflower crust pizza, I thought. This was a brilliant addition to the arsenal in the never-ending hunt to find ways to use zucchini. 

I returned home laden with zucchini, including the normal ones, long and slender like cucumbers. I also had some of my friend’s 8-balls and a few patty pan summer squash shaped like flying saucers. Once back in the lab, I started experimenting. 

I tried several toppings, including a traditional style pizza with red sauce, cheese and sliced hot dogs, hoping to lure the children on board. I made some with fresh tomatoes rather than red sauce. I made some “white” pizzas without tomatoes, which makes zero sense this time of year, but I gave it a shot in the spirit of research. The best combinations were the aforementioned traditional style with red sauce and cheese and a BLT-inspired pizza — aka BLTizza — with bacon and tomatoes. I served it with a mixture of fresh onions and mayo. But everyone’s favorite was the Caprese salad of tomato, mozzarella and basil. I call it the “Caprizza.” 

It’s mandatory that you salt the zucchini after you slice it. This step, called disgorgement, is worth doing on all watery vegetables, like eggplant and sometimes cucumber, depending on the context, as well as zucchini and other forms of summer squash. The salt draws water out of the plant cells and prevents the dish from becoming a soggy, watery mess. 

To disgorge zucchini, slice it and sprinkle the cut sides with salt. Let sit for 20-30 minutes, then pat the slices dry. 

Using round, 8-ball style zucchini, you can salt both sides of each slice. If you’re using “normal” long, tube-shaped zucchini, slice them end to end into boats, and cut a flat spot on the opposite side of each slice so it can sit flat and not roll over. These slices will then also have two cut sides to salt. If using pattypan squash, slice them through their equators and cut off the blossom and stem ends to create flat spots to keep them from rolling. These will also have two cut ends to salt. 

Normal Pizza (aka pizza margherita)

Zucchini 
Salt 
Olive oil
Tomato-based spaghetti or pizza sauce 
Grated parmesan or Italian cheese blend 
Sliced meat or vegetable for toppings 

Slice the zucchini as appropriate, with no slice greater than 3/4 -inch, and sprinkle with salt. Wait 20-30 minutes and pat dry. 

Arrange the disgorged zucchini on a baking tray. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to each piece and spread it around. Add a few tablespoons of sauce, spread it around, and then sprinkle with cheese. Add the toppings until it looks like pizza, and then bake for 20 minutes at 400. 

BLTizza 

Zucchini 
Salt 
Olive oil 
Sliced tomatoes 
Sliced bacon 
Minced onion 
Mayo
 

Slice the zucchini as appropriate, with no slice greater than 3/4 -inch. Sprinkle with salt. Wait 20-30 minutes and pat dry. Mix the onions and mayo. 

Arrange the disgorged zucchini on a baking tray. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to each piece and spread it around. 

Add the tomato slices and then the bacon slices. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. 

When cool, top with the mayo onion mixture, and serve. 

Caprizza 

Zucchini 
Salt 
Olive oil 
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh tomato slices 
Fresh, sliced mozzarella cheese 
Aged balsamic vinegar (optional) 

Slice the zucchini as appropriate, with no slice greater than 3/4 -inch. Sprinkle with salt. Wait 20-30 minutes and pat dry. 

Arrange the disgorged zucchini on a baking tray. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to each piece and spread it around. 

Add the basil leaves to each piece of zucchini. Cover the leaves with mozzarella slices. Lay tomato slices over the mozzarella. 

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, if using, and serve. 

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here



Connect with us