Chef’s Notes: You could make a phone call and have a pizza at the door in thirty minutes. Or you could take the time to create this pizza that is bursting with herb flavor in every layer and features a tantalizing array of toppings – balsamic thyme chicken, maple bacon, minted pineapple, red bell pepper rings, and a gouda/provolone cheese blend. It’s worth every second.
Tantalizing Tropical Pizza with Herbed Wheat Crust
1 T. olive oil
2 T. onions, minced
2 T. bell pepper, minced
1 T. garlic, minced
2 medium very ripe tomatoes
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. fresh basil, minced
1 T. fresh oregano, minced
1 T. fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp. salt (more or less to taste)
1 pkg. yeast
1 C. warm water
1/2 C. canola oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 C. fresh herbs (such as basil, oregano, chives, thyme, rosemary, parsley), minced
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
Balsamic Thyme Chicken
1 T. canola oil
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 T. thyme, torn into small pieces
1/2 C. white wine
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 slices thick cut bacon
1 T. real maple syrup
1/2 C. fresh or canned pineapple tidbits
1/2 T. fresh mint, torn into small pieces
Red Bell Pepper Rings
1 red bell pepper
1 C. smoked gouda cheese, grated
1 C. smoked provolone cheese, grated
Garlic-Butter for Crust
4 T. butter
1/2 T. garlic
1. Make the sauce. In a small sauce pan, sauté the onion, bell pepper, and garlic in the olive oil. Peel and core the tomatoes, then coarsely chop and add to sautéed vegetables. Cover the pan and cook over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, or until most of the tomato juice has cooked away (about 10 minutes). Turn the heat down to medium-low, stir in the tomato paste, basil, oregano, parsley, and salt, and heat through (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and cool completely. While sauce is cooling, continue with the remaining steps.
2. Make the dough. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Add oil, salt, sugar, the half cup of assorted fresh herbs, and mix thoroughly. Stir in 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Mix until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Spread remaining flour onto counter; turn dough out onto counter. Knead dough, working in the additional flour, about 5 minutes, until dough is “bouncy” and not sticky. Place dough ball in lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover with towel. Place in a warm draft-free place to rise, about one hour. While dough is rising, prepare the toppings.
3. Make the chicken. Dice the chicken in bite-sized pieces. Heat canola oil in small cast iron skillet. Add chicken and thyme. Cook until chicken is done, about 5 minutes. Add white wine and balsamic vinegar, turn heat to medium-high, and cook until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
4. Make the bacon. Put bacon slices in small cast iron skillet and cook over medium heat. When bacon is browned on one side, turn over and drizzle with maple syrup. Cook bacon on second side, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate. When cooled, crumble.
5. Toss the pineapple tidbits with fresh mint.
6. Cut the red bell pepper into 8 or 10 thin slices.
7. Mix the cheeses in a bowl.
8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
9. When the dough has doubled in size (after about an hour), punch lightly to remove air bubbles, then let rest for 5 minutes. Punch dough lightly again, then shape dough on an oiled 16-inch pizza pan. Spread the pizza sauce over the dough, almost to the edges. Sprinkle cheese over sauce. Layer the toppings over the cheese – chicken, bacon, pineapple, and red pepper slices.
10. Place pizza on middle rack of oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned on bottom. When pizza is cooking, combine butter and garlic to make spread. After removing the pizza from the oven, spread the garlic butter on the outside edge of the crust. Cut the pizza into ten slices and serve.